“By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life” Psalm 42:7
One of the difficult aspects of Christian doubt is reminding yourself of the truth in a moment of paralyzing uncertainty. You know the moment, don’t you? The one where all the Scripture you knew leaves your mind like mist in the morning sun; your trusted friend isn’t around and you’re more alone than you care to admit; you’re trying to pray, but you don’t know how to articulate the struggle in your soul. When things are black as night, what resources has God given us to illuminate the path?
In Psalm 42 David is in deep despair. He crying all the time (v. 3), he’s surrounded by those who reinforce doubt (v. 3), his experiences of God are only memories (v. 4), he’s cast down and in turmoil (v. 5), and feels like he’s drowning (v.7). These are the lowest depths in the deepest valley with no light. And it is here that he tells of a weapon against the darkness: a song.
Songs are shelters in the tempest – a lighthouse in the hurricane. Often times a fortification of hope is built around our fainting hearts by the sturdy truth of hymns, songs or poems. David seems to find great comfort in a song in his dark night of the soul. Interestingly enough, he views this song as a “prayer” Biblical songs are deep reservoirs of prayers for the speechless saint struggling for faith. Here are a few examples of prayers or encouragements found in hymns that the Holy Spirit has used to anchor my soul:
“Jesus, Jesus, how I trust You!
How I’ve proved You o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust You more!”
-Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus
“Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.”
-Rock of Ages Cleft for Me
“When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see You there
Who made an end of all my sin”
-Before The Throne of God Above
“AH, my dear angry Lord,
Since Thou dost love, yet strike;
Cast down, yet help afford;
Sure I will do the like.
I will complain, yet praise;
I will bewail, approve:
And all my sour-sweet days
I will lament, and love.”
-Bitter-Sweet, George Herbert
“How long wilt Thou conceal Thy face?
My God, how long delay?
When shall I feel those heav’nly rays
That chase my fears away?
How long shall my poor laboring soul
Wrestle and toil in vain?
Thy word can all my foes control
And ease my raging pain.”
-How Long Wilt Thou Conceal Thy Face?
These small snippets are ammunition in the trenches as we wait for God; they are an arsenal of words for your stammering tongue. They are a song to keep you through the night. When Israel faced their opponents, often times they faced the bewilderment of their plight with songs of God’s steadfast love (see 2 Chronicles 20:20-30). Let it be so for you. Learn some songs, and sing them with mustard seed faith through the dark.