I love you, Lord, my strength. (Psalm 18:1)
What More Can I Say?
A couple of weeks ago, we had our whole family together—not only for a Thanksgiving dinner, but also to celebrate the Rose family Christmas. As our children have gotten older, finding ways to celebrate these holidays together has become more and more challenging. We represent multiple families with multiple jobs living in multiple cities. Once upon a time, Christmas was predictable. We were able to plan when we would celebrate, where we would celebrate, how we would celebrate, and even how long our celebration would last. Because of that kind of predictability, we could “save up” every bit of our time, goodwill and resources for December 25 and then download it all in one massive, hours-long festivity!
Of course, WHY we celebrate Christmas is the one thing that will never change. All of those wonderful details and side-benefits of our celebration are great, but like the bumper sticker says, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Truth be told, maybe sometimes more is less and less is more.
Psalm 18 is David’s great “download of praise.” It’s the longest psalm attributed to David and the fourth longest of all of the 150 Psalms. To this point in the book we haven’t encountered anything like it. While the previous 17 psalms feel like specific, prayerful songs composed and sung “in the moment,” Psalm 18 enters in like a full-blown life testimony. The ancient inscription at the beginning of this psalm says, “For the director of music. Of David, the servant of the Lord. He sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.” If David sang this song in that moment, he must have been referring to all of his journal notes!
Psalm 18 reflects beautifully on several attributes of God and aspects of God’s relationship to His people. God hears and responds to us (v. 3-6); God is awesome and powerful (v. 7-15); God is loving and intimate (v. 16-19); God is righteous, faithful and just (v. 20-29); God is perfect and flawless in all He does and says (v. 30-31); God empowers, equips and enables us (v. 32-40); God is worthy of all our praise (v. 46-50). As we read through David’s poetic praise, we get the sense he has been saving it all up for just such a celebration. But as majestic and awe-inspiring as Psalm 18 ends up, it begins just as simply: “I love you Lord, my strength.”
Psalm 18 may go out like a lion, but it comes in like a lamb.
Sometimes, our careful, deliberate reflections on the greatness and attributes of God cause us to burst into a powerful song of praise (even if we’re not as skilled at composing them as David was). But sometimes the profound realization of our simple, child-like love for Him compels us to respond—in actions as well as words—moving us from songs of praise to sacrifices of praise. When we come to the point of “what more can I say?” we are in exactly the right place for God to use us for His glory.
At the end of the Gospel of John, Jesus interacts in a powerful way with his faithful, but deeply flawed disciple Peter. After Peter had denied knowing Jesus at all on the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion (John, chapter 18), the resurrected Jesus confronts Peter on the beach (John 21:15-19). Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” And each time Peter answers, “Lord, you know that I love you.” This is Peter’s simple song of praise. What more can he possibly say? But each time Jesus gives his disciple a place to go further with his praise, “feed my lambs.” Jesus is saying, “Your words are nice, Peter, but let your love for me spill over into love for others.”
During this holiday season, I find myself longing for the profound, days-long celebration of praise that every Christmas warrants—the great outlet for my “stored-up” praise. But where I find Jesus leading me is toward the continuous, daily “spilled out” praise that begins with a simple confession, “I love you Lord,” and pours out in a life that gives God endless glory in countless ways. This season, when you come to the point of “What more can I say?” don’t forget to ask “What more can I do?” Drink in deeply the life-giving blessing of God this Advent season, and then let those blessings spill out in a life of praise. Stay thirsty.