“He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth – Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, and will trust in the LORD.” Psalm 40:2-3
I was sitting in the exam room at the doctor’s office. The nurse had already been in and out. Two small windows each about 2’ by 2’ separated by a little partition sat up high on the wall opposite from me. They bordered the ceiling of the room. Then I noticed the strangest thing. From my exact viewpoint, the window on the right boiled with nasty gray and black clouds. The window on the left, just inches away, showed me a crystal clear blue sky bathed in perfection. It created a “Wow!” moment for me.
I continued to think about the contrasting window scenes after my appointment. My mind conjured up different word pictures to associate with the dreary clouds and the cheerful clarity side by side. The Psalms kept popping up their heads. The pastor had just preached on Psalm 73. Asaph begins by looking outward at the world. What did he see? – Injustice, inequality, unfairness, lack of reward for his faith, and, well, clouds, lots of dismal wretched clouds. Then what did Asaph do? He went into the sanctuary of God. Those dispiriting clouds were still in the sky, but now, in the presence of God, his attention became fixed on the other window. Asaph regained clarity. He declared, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.” (v.25)
In Psalm 40 David finds himself in a very hard place. He says, “For innumerable evils have surrounded me; my iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head; therefore my heart fails me.” (v.12) Here we find the shepherd/king looking mostly inward and seeing only joyless depressive clouds. Then what did David do? He cried out to God. We see the results in our opening Scripture. God brought him up from his muddled bed, set his feet on firm ground and redirected David’s gaze to the other window. David regained clarity. In his new song he sang, “Many, O Lord God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; And Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; If I would declare and speak them, they are more than can be numbered.” (v. 5)
The book of Psalms teaches us about those two windows. They repeatedly speak of the real-world’s oppressive cheerless clouds in this fallen-down life. We can look outward and see them everywhere. We can look inward and find them there as well. But these Hebrew songs sing of another reality too. When we look to the Lord, keeping our focus on Him; when we come into His presence, there is only blue. It is there we can find His perspective and can walk in clarity.
The choice is ours to make. Day by day. Moment to moment. Which window will be our focus; where will we set our minds?