WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU AROSE AT MIDNIGHT TO PRAISE THE GOD WHO SAVED YOU?
“At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto Thee because of Thy righteous judgment!” [Psalm 119:62]
The ardency of his devotion, or his earnest desire to praise God: “at midnight,” when sleep doth most invade men’s eyes, then he would rise up. His heart was so set upon the praising of God, and the sense of his righteous providence did so affect him, and urge and excite him to this duty, that he would not only employ himself in this work in the daytime, and so show his love to God, but he would rise out of his bed to worship God and celebrate his praise. That which hindereth the sleep of ordinary men, is either the cares of this world, the impatient resentment of injuries, or the sting of an evil conscience: these keep others waking, but David was awaked by a desire to praise God.
No hour is unseasonable to a gracious heart: he is expressing his affection to God when others take their rest. Thus we read of our Lord Christ, that he spent whole nights in prayer ( Luke 6:12 ). It is said of the glorified saints in heaven, that they praise God continually: “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them” ( Revelation 7:15 ). Now, holy men, though much hindered by their bodily necessities, will come as near to continual praise as present frailty will permit. Alas, we oftentimes begin the day with some fervency of prayer and praise, but we faint ere the evening comes.
His sincerity, seen in his secrecy. David would profess his faith in God when he had no witness by him; “at midnight,” when there was no hazard of ostentation. It was a secret cheerfulness and delighting in God: when alone he could have no respect to the applause of men, but only to approve himself to God who seeth in secret. See Christ’s direction: “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” ( Matthew 6:6 ). Note also Christ’s own practice: “Rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” ( Mark 1:35 ): before day he went into a desert to pray; both time and place implied secrecy.
We learn hence the preciousness of time: it was so to David; see how he spendeth the time of his life. We read of David, when he lay down at night, he watered his couch with his tears, after the examination of his heart ( Psalms 6:6 ); at midnight he rose to give thanks; in the morning he prevented the morning watches; and seven times a day he praised God: morning, noon, and night he consecrated. These are all acts of eminent piety. We should not content ourselves with so much grace as will merely serve to save us. Alas! we have much idle time hanging upon our hands: if we would give that to God, it were well.
The value of godly exercises above our natural refreshing. The word is sweeter than appointed food: “I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” ( Job 13:12 ). David prefers the praises of God before his sleep and rest in the night. Surely, this should shame us for our sensuality. We can dispense with other things for our vain pleasures: we have done as much for sin, for vain sports, etc.; and shall we not deny ourselves for God?
The great reverence to be used in secret adoration. David did not only raise up his spirits to praise God, but rise up out of his bed, to bow the knee to him. Secret duties should be performed with solemnity, not slubbered over. Praise, a special act of adoration, requireth the worship of body and soul.