Bless the Lord at All Times

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The author, M. Scott Peck, MD, starts his book, ʺThe Road Less Traveledʺ with this sentence: ʺLife is difficult.ʺ There is not one of us who does not nod our head in complete understanding of those three simple words. We know that it is difficult, sometimes overwhelming, but we know that there are times, too, that are full of unspeakable joy. David, the psalmist knew this too. He had known the difficulties of life, many of which he had brought on to himself, just like us. But he also knew the joy that comes from finally submitting one’s will to the will of God. Listen to the uncontainable joy that he expresses in his Psalm 34:

ʺI will bless the Lord at all times;
Praise of him is always in my mouth.
In the Lord my soul shall make its boast;
The humble shall hear and be glad.ʺ

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He can not keep it to himself either. He says to the people, and to us:

ʺGlorify the Lord with me;
Together let us praise his name.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
From all my terrors he set me free.ʺ

David was a man just like us in all ways, including his capacity to sin against God. He had committed terrible sins in desiring Bathsheba, and having her husband, Uriah, sent to the front in battle where he would be killed, so that he could possess the beautiful Bathsheba for himself. He had fallen about as low as a human being can go. And, yet, he also came to know the forgiveness of the Lord. He knew it personally because, in his sorrow, he turned back to the Lord, contrite of heart, with all of his being. And the Lord answered his prayers and made him well in all that he did.

It is in that spirit that he continues his psalm of joy:

ʺLook toward him and be radiant;
Let your faces not be abashed.
This lowly one called; the Lord heard,
And rescued him from all his distress.ʺ

Finally, David’s joy is so complete that he can even ‘taste’ it. He literally shouts:

ʺThe angel of the Lord is encamped
Around those who fear him, to rescue them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Blessed the man who seeks refuge in him.ʺ

David knew by experience that, ʺLife is difficult.ʺ He experienced the truth of this, because of his choices, just as we do. He understood that ʺthe truth hurts.ʺ And, yet, David discovered, just as we can, that the Lord’s goodness and forgiveness are also true. And, like it did for David, that truth ʺwill set [us] free.ʺ (John 8:32) Can you not feel your heart surging along with Davids? Can you not hear your soul shouting, ʺOh, what joy!ʺ?

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.