I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
So, thinking about this psalm and planning to post something about it today, I searched the iTunes store for a happy hit about Monday. Surely, I thought, some artist’s recorded one. None turned up at glance. The bona fide hits were all downers—“Rainy Days and Mondays”, “Stormy Monday”, “Blue Monday”, “Manic Monday”, etc. Hang on, I thought. There’s “Monday, Monday” by The Mamas & The Papas. “Monday morning, it was all I hoped it would be.” Then I fast-forwarded to the refrain: “Every other day of the week is fine. But whenever Monday comes, you can find me crying all of the time.”
Apparently, optimistic Monday songs don’t sell, which says more about us than the music business. It’s locked in our heads that Monday means returning to drudgery, back on the wheel like gerbils running furiously to nowhere. And that’s where Monday mourning takes us—nowhere. But I wonder if we begin the week singing a new tune, will it end in better places? We can greet Monday as either a return to the pits or a fresh start. Psalm 40 says a new beginning and a new song go hand-in-hand, which suggests changing our tune changes a lot of things.
On Hold and In Holes
David opens with two frustrations common to work and life. He’s stuck, indefinitely on hold and bogged down in uncertainty. “I waited patiently,” he recalls in verse 1 and the second places him in a “slimy pit” of “mud and mire.” Surely we can relate. When we need answers, nothing’s worse than hanging on the line as a recording assures us we’re “important.” And when we need to get something resolved, nothing’s more disheartening than feeling sunk in a slippery hole, unseen and unable to get a grip. On the job, both scenarios unnerve us by eating up time. In life, the implications are more serious. We suspect our prayers and problems aren’t gaining God’s attention. We start thinking we’re insignificant to Him, and doubting our importance slides into doubting His omnipotence. In other words, losing faith in ourselves—in who we are, how we’re made, and why—is the first step to losing faith in our Maker.
Although David claims he waited patiently, it’s tough to imagine he escaped fears and exasperations that plague all of us when we fall into filthy pits and worry we’re in too deep for anyone, including God, to hear our cries for help. Skipping the ugly details in retrospect might in fact indicate David’s desperate sense of dislocation, giving us just enough to know things were bad without reliving the whole ordeal. He’s all about cutting to the happy ending—or, more accurately, the fresh beginning that starts when God comes on the line, as it were, and goes to work. With one sweep, He lifts David out of the pit and puts him on rock to stand firmly and unafraid. Then, having raised him so prominently, God gives David a new song. His tune changes from “Monday, Monday” to “Beautiful Day.”
As David bursts into song, he realizes what God does for him is nothing compared to what He’s doing through him. He lifts David and changes his tune for others’ sake. Now that he’s up on this rock, singing his heart out, “many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.” (Psalm 40.3b) When God raises us and gives us a new song, “a hymn of praise,” He’s looking for more than glory out of our mouths. He also expects to receive glory out of our lives. The witness is in the singer, not the song. Our new tune sparks interest, particularly from those aware of how long we’ve waited and how stuck we’ve been.
That’s why coming unglued is absolutely necessary. The muck and mire that bogged us down and proved too slick to climb become things of the past. When God sweeps us up to be seen and heard for His glory, no force holding us—no thought, habit, or desire—can withstand the power of His hand. Yet we’ll stay stuck if we’re content to sing the blues and too fondly familiar with our slimy surroundings to trust Him to change our situation and tune. Only after we’re lifted and singing a new song will we fully recognize how low we sank and how sorry we sounded. Then, once we’re placed where others notice we’re making a fresh start and singing a fresh song, we see why we had to wait for God. Before releasing a new tune, He always takes the time He needs to assemble an appreciative audience.
When we fall into a muddy hole, God raises us to sing a new tune so others will see and hear what He’s done.
(Tomorrow: Say the Word)