TO CHEW ON: "But I am like a green olive tree
in the house of God;
I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.
I will praise You forever,
Because You have done it;
And in the presence of Your saints
I will wait on Your name for it is good." Psalm 52:8-9
When I journal, I often find myself using David's method of writing the psalms. He starts with troubled thoughts, spilling them all onto the page—the distress, the anger, the outrage, the desire for revenge. (When he wrote these, I wonder if he had any idea that thousands of years later people would still be reading and finding comfort and enlightenment.) Then he writes his way back through his feelings to faith in God.
Psalm 52 is such a cathartic entry. According to an epigram in my Bible, it is a "Contemplation of David when Doeg the Edomite went and told Saul and said to him, 'David has gone to the house of Ahimelech." The story, (found in 1 Samuel 21 and 22) is of the time David was running from King Saul. Saul, jealous of David's popularity and fearful that the people would want him to be their king, was trying to kill him.
David went from his hideout to the town of Nob to get food for his men from Ahimelech the priest. Doeg, a servant of Saul's, saw him and reported to Saul that Ahimelech had helped David. Saul summoned Ahimelech and his sons, scolded them for helping his enemy and ordered them all killed. Doeg did the deed. He even went so far as to kill the families of Ahimelech and his sons.
Is it any wonder David cries, "God shall likewise destroy you (probably referring to Doeg) forever. He shall take you away and pluck you out of your dwelling place and uproot you from the land of the living"?
But his focus doesn't stay on the villain. Instead, he writes his way back to mental and spiritual tranquility as he expresses his trust in God. He reminds himself of his position as God's responsibility: "I am like a green olive tree in the house of God," and the attributes of the God he worships: "I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever. I will praise You forever…. I will wait on Your name, for it is good" (vs. 8-9).
Are you troubled and distressed about something that's going on in your life? Try David's way of talking yourself down from whatever ledge you're on by writing about it. Any ordinary scribbler will do as a journal. As you diarize your path from feeling to faith, you may be writing your very own psalms. They may someday encourage someone else. Even if they don't, looking back on the experience of finding your way back to faith in God will buoy you up
PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for the writings of David that show me it's normal to experience the gamut of emotions and okay to express them. As I do this, please help me, by Your Spirit, to find my way to truth and trust. Amen.
MORE: Spiritual Journals
If journaling, or the thought of keeping a spiritual journal is new to you, here are a few links to give you ideas of how to go about it:
"How to Develop a Spiritual Journal"
"Journal for You" (page contains links to more resources)
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.