Have you ever been in a dark pit? One where you feel stuck and every time you try to climb out you keep slipping back down? Can you imagine singing in the bottom of a swamp?
Psalm 40 shows David in a slimy pit crying out to God for deliverance. In faith he declares that he will sing God’s praises when he’s been delivered.
What kind of trouble is he in? More than he can count. More than the hairs on his head.
That’s why I shave my head so I don’t have to worry about counting my problems. (Dad joke)
Humor aside, David faces enemies who attack him and seek his ruin. In addition, he combats his personal sin and shame, which he knows is enormous.
He calls on God’s mercy to rescue him and acknowledges that God not only heard his prayer, but stooped down into the pit. David believes God will place him on a rock above all the crowds. He promises to sing new songs and trusts that many will hear this “good news” and also put their faith in God.
What can we learn about thankfulness from the David, the Singing King?
6 ways to turn our pits into reason for singing
#1: Describe the pit
Have you ever been scolded for talking about how bad things are or what they could become? That doesn’t help, especially when you’re stuck in a pit. Counselors encourage us to put words to our feelings, experiences, fears, and desires. It’s in the description that the pit starts to lose its grip on us.
It’s like shining a light on the walls of a cave. Suddenly you see handholds that you couldn’t feel in the dark. You may even discover God already lowered a rope for you.
We know David is in a dark pit because of the words he uses to describe it. It’s slimy, muddy, and like a boggy swamp. The NASB calls it the “pit of destruction.” That sounds like a place where people die. In Psalms 38 and 39 David described being deathly sick and under intense attack. Whether he’s in a physical pit or emotional, it’s dark and he feels stuck.
#2: Cry out to God
When David cries out to God for help, he uses the Hebrew word qavah which means to eagerly wait or expectantly wait. There is intense longing in David’s cry and a sense of urgency.
When you’re in a dark pit, does it feel hopeless and like things will never change?
I have a friend we’ll call Richard who has a difficult marriage. His wife stopped trusting him to provide and lead their home years ago. They remained married, but were emotionally separated. He started crying out to God, meeting with a counselor, and doing a lot of soul searching.
Recently I spent time with Richard and reflected back to him my thankfulness for the growth I’ve seen in the last couple of years. He’s stronger, more confident, more present, and more attractive.
God heard his prayer and is slowly lifting him out of the pit. My friends and I get to watch a miracle in action. Sometimes God’s answer comes slowly and other times it’s sudden and “miraculous.”
#3: Anticipate his answer
King David models one of the habits of highly grateful people we discussed on Day 15: he anticipates God’s answer to his prayer. How can he do this? He knows God’s character. God is a good shepherd, a rock, a refuge, and a strong deliverer. And if this is who God is, David knows he can trust God to come through.
#4: Remember his past faithfulness
He also remembers God’s past deliverance. When David fought Goliath he was trusting God to fight for him, just as he had done when David fought lions and bears. By the time of this psalm, David had likely seen God defeat tens of thousands of his enemies.
Based on God’s past faithfulness, David doesn’t despair. That doesn’t mean he enjoys being stuck in a pit.
#5: Know God is singing with you
In Psalm 22 David glimpses Christ singing in the midst of the congregation. In Psalm 40 David knows God has joined him in the pit.
You might miss this if you only read the english. The Hebrew word for “inclined” is natah which pictures someone bending down or stooping down. So while it doesn’t necessarily mean God got into the pit with David, he reached down and got messy.
It reminds me of the theophany, God sighting, in the fiery pit with Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego. Most believe Jesus was the one walking with them.
I imagine David heard God singing with him as he wandered the hills as a shepherd. Likewise, he knows God is close and likely hears God singing over him.
All this points me to Jesus, the one who became one of us, embraced our sin, and paid the price so we could ascend out of the pit into the heavenly courts with the Father!
#6: Proclaim God’s faithfulness in the community with singing
There’s a classic hymn called, “How Can I Keep from Singing?” A group of New York City artists created an amazing virtual arrangement of it during the peak of the 2020 pandemic. Imagine! Finding a reason to sing in the middle of the worst recorded pandemic in recent memory!
David says, “I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, Lord, as you know.” He will not remain silent. How can he?
How can we? When God answers your prayers, big or small, tell the world. Sing it out.
Find a song to sing. This playlist includes over 50 songs of gratitude to choose from. I’m starting my day by listening to a few as I go about my startup routine.
Or perhaps you could write your own song. I recently shared a rough arrangement of my version of Psalm 40 on Facebook (see it here). If you create one, please share it below.
Lord, I thank you for always hearing my prayers and lifting me out of the pit. I confess I don’t like being stuck in these pits, especially when I dig them. I pray you will release my voice, and let many hear of your faithfulness through my story. Even when I don’t feel like singing, I pray I would hear you singing over me. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.