The Fourth Floor Smells Like Dirty Socks or Something
One semester while I was in college, I did a volunteer internship at a local hospital as a chaplain. Every Sunday afternoon, I would stroll the fourth floor with my guitar and Bible singing and sharing Scripture and encouragement with folks who needed to smile. The fourth floor was reserved for senior citizens, so as a 20-year-old college junior, I felt right at home. That was sarcastic. The emanating smells were beautiful and fragrant like lilies in the spring. No. The sights were glorious and majestic like the pristine waters of the Caribbean Sea. Not quite. Some days it was really hard to drive out there and do my thing. Some of the folks were bitter and hard. Life had dealt them a bad hand and they wanted me to know all about it. They wanted me to taste a small dose of the bitter cup that they drank from each and everyday. But others were different.
There were some folks on the fourth floor who had tasted of that same bitter cup of life and yet had a different perspective. They frequently recollected to me many of the wonderful memories they had with their families – about children and grandchildren and great-grand children born into the world who were making something of their lives. Many would sit there with tubes running from every limb in their body and boxes and machines blinking and beeping without end declaring the goodness and faithfulness of God. They looked tired. They looked worn out. Life had taken its toll on them. But they had maintained confidence in their God even until the very end.
In Psalm 71, we find David at the end of his life. No doubt he was tired. He was worn out. He was bruised and battered from living the life of a warrior-king. He was tired from endless pursuits from enemies. He was sick of seeing his children suffer some of the cruelest forms of death and torture because of unwise choices they had made. He was just tired. From the perspective of some, David had every right to curse God. He had every right to blame God for the death of his children and the rape of his daughter. He had tasted a bitter cup. But he had also tasted a glorious cup – the cup of forgiveness from a forgiving and loving God – a God of second chances. David had brought a lot of his pain on himself, and he knew it. But when he came to the end of his life, David was able to declare these words, “For You are my hope, Lord God, my confidence from my youth. I have leaned on You from birth; You took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is always about You” (Psalm 71:5-6).
Wow! Here’s a man who, from the world’s perspective, had every right to be confident in his own abilities as a king – to be confident in his own successes. Or, on the other hand, he had every right to be bitter toward God for his heartaches. But David came to the end of his life and said that his confidence was, and always had been in Jehovah God.
The word confidence here is often used throughout the Psalms to contrast the validity of trust in God as opposed to the folly of confidence in any other thing, especially pagan deities. In the pagan religions, they always made sure they had some kind of good luck charm on them at all times so they would feel that they had some element of control over their deities. David knew this and so he declared that the totality of his confidence was in the one true God. He had surrendered everything to the Lord.
I love how David ends verse six, “My praise is always about You.” That should be the attitude of our hearts, no matter the situation we find ourselves in – no matter the hand that we’ve been dealt. God must always be the confidence from our youth. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re young. Or young-at-heart. You’ve got a lot of years left ahead of you. Make a fresh declaration to God today that He will always be your confidence and your praise will always be about Him.
- What things have happened in your life that you have made you bitter? Has a boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse cheated on you? Has a really close friend stabbed you in the back?
- What steps can you take to forgive those people who have hurt you?
- How will you move forward by making God your confidence and the object of your praise?