Day 48 | Andrew Simon
When I sat down to write about these Psalms, I couldn’t help but reflect on one of my favorite rap lyrics of last year. Chance the Rapper in his song “Blessings” reminds us: “When the praises go up, the blessings come down.” I think that the psalmist is thinking along these lines in Psalm 86:
“For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.” (ESV, 5-7)
While the language here is wonderful and the sentiment seems straightforward, this is something that I struggle with. I get so caught up in the day-to-day life that I forget to regularly praise God for the things I’ve been blessed with; I focus so much on the negative things happening around me, that I often fail to recognize my blessings as they come down at all. This happens so frequently that when I am faced with trouble, temptation or trial, I forget to do the one thing that is sure to make an impact, which is to thank God for what he’s done, and call upon him in the day of my trouble.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Psalm 85 contains a beautiful example of how this might look, right in its opening lines. The psalmist recognizes the ways in which God has acted mercifully towards his people and their land:
“Lord, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. Selah. You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe that Praises and Blessings work on some kind of exchange system. We aren’t trading God compliments for favors. What I do believe is that when we quiet the noise inside ourselves and in the world around us for a moment and pay attention to what God has already done, we will be in a better frame of mind to receive what God is currently doing on our behalf and will do on our behalf in the future.
This intentionality in receiving blessings is mentioned later in Psalm 85:
“Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints but let them not turn back to folly. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.”
I believe that one way or another, God is always moving, speaking, and working in and for us. We just need to take a moment, take a breath, and let the Blessings come down.