In Psalm 138:3, David writes, “On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.”
Life is heavy. There is a weight in situations and circumstances that cannot be measured with a scale. There is no physical mass to a hard day, but still you feel and weight of it.
How heavy is the soul?
Can you imagine going through the day, walking up to friends, acquaintances, and strangers and asking them a common question, “How much do you weigh today?” Talk about getting personal!
And so, I will start the day with you, how much do you weigh today? I can ask because I am at a safe “no slap” cyber-distance from you through the blog. Yet, I can also ask, because I am not speaking of the weight of your body, but the weight of your soul. How about the weight of your day? Perhaps the weight of your situation? The weight of the body, you and I mindlessly carry it around day by day. I think very little of 211. I’m so used to it, I don’t feel it. I am what I am! But, weight of soul, I feel it. So do you.
How do we increase the strength of our soul? From Psalm 138 we can draw some solid principles.
- Thankfulness from the whole heart (v. 1) – The Psalms are not trite songs and prayers that mindlessly look for the good in every situation. If anything, the Psalms are honest songs and prayers. They are the anthems of heavy souls. In fact there is a small collection of them that in Latin are referred to as misery Psalms. The foremost of them being Psalm 51. Yet even in Psalms of hopelessness there is thankfulness. In Psalm 138:1 he sings praise to his God before the gods. Our soul is strengthened in the song of thankfulness. The situation may not change, but a burdened soul finds resolute strength when we take a moment to enter into the equation of our situation who God is.
- Bowing the body in prayer, daily (v. 2) – Notice in the second verse David bows toward the Temple. It is the same as saying, “I bow before God.” The posture of our body reflects the posture of our heart. When we bow before God we are not only expressing reverence, but humility and vulnerability. When arresting someone a policeman says, “Hands up where I can see them.” If the hands are up, it is assumed there will be no defense. Bowing is the “hands up” of the soul. It is the posture of total surrender. How often do we pray a pithy prayer, a token word to God as we walk, or before we eat, or even as we drive. There is no surrender in religious ritual. There is no strength of soul in mindless habit. But have you taken time in prayer today to bow before God? Bowing requires that you stop what you are doing. It requires that you get on your face. Bowing is breaking the back, cracking open the soul, laying down before the Lord. Bowing before God not only says, “God, you are holy” but it also says, “I can’t do this.” The soul is strengthened in holy vulnerability.
- Remembering the plans, purposes, and promises of God (v. 4-8). I will admit, it is difficult for me to pray for long periods of time. The digi-brain is easily distracted. Smartphones are the death of meditation and of the attention span. Yet when my mind is stayed on Scripture I can concentrate. What I am writing this morning is due to my time praying through Psalm 138; my strength of soul has been increased – and so I blog. In verses 4-8 David is citing what he has found to be true of God by experience, but for the most part, he is reciting back to God what he knows to be true of Him from His Word. The thought that all the kings of the earth will give God praise is an eschatological hope. The world is unwound right now, but we know how the story ends. Truth strengthens the soul. Verse 6 reflects God’s character. “Though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly.” You and I need to remind ourselves of this – it strengthens the soul to know God cares. He is with me in my times of trouble (v. 7). His promises do not fail (v. 8). The weight of the day threatens to crush me, but in these truths there is a new reality that strengthens my soul.
It cannot be measured on the scale, but you feel the weight of the day. The situation may not change, but the soul has the potential to be strengthened. Prayer, singing, bowing before God, staying the mind on truth – these are the things that increase the strength of the soul.
How much do you weigh today?