A little gloomy, kind of damp, shorter days - autumn is here. I love the changes in colour, and even the rain and clouds on a fall day. Tthere is something cozy about the whole thing. Assuming, of course, it only lasts a day or two. After that I'm ready for some sunshine and warmth!
On what some may perceive as a gloomy day (at least this morning is), we may console ourselves with the reminder, "This is the day the Lord has made," exhale a big sigh, and resolutely decide to get on with our day.
Psalm 118:4 is the source of this verse, "This is the day the LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." What we may not realize is the psalmist is not thinking about the weather forecast. Contextually, he has expressed his lament because of the external pressures bearing down on him. We don't know the exact circumstances, but the psalmist references taking refuge in God (v8) because the nations were surrounding him (v10 - presumably some kind of military aggression). In fact, he wonders if God is disciplining him (v18).
From our perspective we could read verse 18 (and some English translations do) as a negative statement, perhaps even as a commentary on punishment. However, that isn't the emphasis the psalmist is giving this text. Within the context of their covenantal relationship with the LORD (YHWH), the God of Israel, there was the understanding that this God would make Himself known and would teach and instruct Israel. Having a God who was knowable and relational was unique in the ancient world! Proverbs 1:7 uses similar language to Psalm 118:18, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." The instructive process of acquiring knowledge and wisdom is part of "discipline."
The psalmist's call to celebrate the "day the LORD has made" is, then, an expression of thanksgiving to God for His faithfulness to sustain and care for the psalmist in his moment of stress - in THIS moment, in THIS day - to redeem him from the threat, and most importantly, to instruct the psalmist in the nature and character of God. The curriculum used by God was sourced in real-life events, but none of the threats or struggles were greater than, or independent of, the loving God who cares for His people.
This is not to suggest that the psalmist could expect all rainbows and unicorns. Clearly, the threat was real, the stress was overwhelming. In spite of those stressors, he knows God is walking with him; he is living in the presence of a living, active and engaged covenental God. And God has not changed. Nor has the reality of living in a world contaminated by sin. Whatever the events of today, of this week, remember, it is a day (or week) that God has made. Let us rejoice, for He will walk with us.