I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me.
O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not down to the pit.
We lift up the name of the Lord. One approach of doing so is by way of intentionally praising Him, as individuals or as a congregation, expressing His goodness and glory, sharing of His power and His peace. If we aren’t making the conscious effort of extolling God, our lives themselves are literal expressions of His endless love and everlasting peace, testimonies of how Christ saved all of us, including the active and the idle; Our literal existence shines His great glory and amazing grace.
I didn’t think much of the phrase of any line in any song that says we ‘lift Him high’. Sometimes I would cringe when we sing lines where we lift His name up high, especially if I get the feeling that those singing with me are placing more emphasis on the ‘we’ part of that phrase. Like it’s ‘from my heart to the heavens’ all over again. Another thing that goes through my mind is that I get that we lift praises to Him, but isn’t that also saying we recognize Him only as far as Him being literally up in heaven?
No, by going through these first verses, I realize there is no accident to the composer saying each time that God lifts us up: We lift the name of the Lord because He raised us up. Through Christ’s finished work we have been healed and delivered, lifted from sin and sickness. Christ was sealed in the tomb so we would be brought up, lifted up from the grave.
And since we were kept alive, there would be no reason for us to be cast into the aforementioned pit… and anyone who proclaims us as their foes, well, they have no cause to rejoice.
Because we understand how we have first been lifted by our God, it gives us reason and motivation to overflow with joy and to lift others. We bear one another’s burdens because Christ Himself has taken our burdens. But it doesn’t stop there, because in our awe and wonder, we lift God’s name up, as our entire beings have been lifted, from the grave, and from the pit. Truly, God, we lift each other up!
Sing praises to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
We extol God, and we do sing praises to His name. We remember His name, and we do give thanks… for as the Psalmist writes, it is the Lord’s favor that is “for life”, far longer than His anger.
That’s something, isn’t it? I am reminded that our God is no stranger to anger or any other emotion or feeling that His creation is capable of feeling. But all the same, we are thankful. We ARE full of praise, for, see, not only are we rescued and redeemed by way of God literally lifting us up, but we are saved by a God, beyond emotions just as He is beyond time.
What am I trying to point out when I say that God is beyond emotions, just as He is beyond time? I mean that God can and does get angry; But we should never bring it beyond the truth of His favor towards us, seen through his eager lifting of our souls – He knows all there is to know about You, and in response, surely He has all sorts of emotions to choose from. But the thing is He chose to lavish us with His everlasting love – in terms of emotion, I imagine it isn’t one-dimensional at all: He’d be angry at the sin and death that removed all meaning to our existence, He’d feel compassion over the toil and trouble we as a species would go through. But throughout all that our God feels, we know that it is His everlasting love that is the foundation, the prevalent motive on His mind. How can we make such assumptions? Well, we can say all of this because we know of the Good News – Through His finished work, Christ has guaranteed that not only are YOU lifted, but, if we take from the Aaronic blessing, so He also lifts HIS countenance, and is gracious towards you.
I guess the same thing applies with us. Once we recognize who God is in the short term versus the long – eternal term, our own perspectives change. We are not so shaken by the immediate because we know that in the eternal point of view, we are secure, safe, and saved. Another way to see this is that we recognize setbacks, discouragements, and all else that constitutes as darkness only as temporary: It will all have an end, versus the everlasting light, the unspeakable joy that will always rise, sure as the sun would rise in this finite reality.
Our absolutely good and absolutely great God absolutely looks at us with favor, and we know this through Christ, whose redemption and ministry of reconciliation has been bestowed upon us, for now, until the end of time, and beyond. Again, we lift His name on high, because He has lifted us up from the grave… and as Christ has lifted the lost sheep on His shoulders, so we are raised as well.
Forever in His favor. What a beautiful thought!
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.