Praises of a Madman
by Mary Alice McGinnis
Have you ever had circumstances in your life when you felt like you were on top of the world? But then suddenly the circumstances shifted, and you found yourself in utter turmoil? How did it feel?
Let’s talk about King David. When he was just a young man, a lowly shepherd boy, he went up against the Philistine giant, Goliath, with only a sling and some rocks.
When he came into the service of King Saul, he was a mighty warrior. God granted David so much success that Saul appointed him a high rank in his army. Soon the people called out David’s praises: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”
This caused King Saul to become filled with intense jealousy. Consumed with hatred, Saul began trying to kill David. With God’s direction, the prophet Samuel, privately appointed David King, yet he spent YEARS fleeing from Saul's evil attempts to kill him.
On one such occasion while fleeing Saul’s deadly pursuit, David goes back to the land of the Philistines. (Check out 1 Samuel 21:10-15). He went to the city of Gath, the same city that Goliath was from. He also takes Goliath’s sword with him. What made him think that was a good idea?
David’s reputation of being a mighty warrior reached Gath, to King Ashish (also known as Abimelek).
But the servants of Achish said to him, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands’?” 1 Samuel 21:11
David knew his life was in jeopardy. So, what does he do? He acts like a madman! Talk about utter humiliation! He went from being a warrior hero to being a mad man zero.
Yet in today’s Psalm, David cries out to the humble and afflicted in this midst, and he is calling to us too!
“Extol the LORD at all times.”
Extol in the English dictionary means to enthusiastically praise.
When David wrote these words, his circumstances were dire. He had to retreat to a cave, and four hundred other downcast, dejected, and distressed men joined him.
(Check out 1 Samuel 22:1-2)
I like verse 2 in the ESV: “My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.”
The Hebrew word “boast” here is the word “halel.” It can mean to boast or bring glory. This word is the root word of “Hallelujah,” which literally means bring glory or praise to God (Ja- as in Jehovah or Ya as in Yahweh). Boast loudly of God. Halel also has a connotation of “to make a fool of” or “to act like a madman.” Foolishly and humbly praising God like a madman. Sound like David? He had just acted like a madman before Achish, the King of Gath. But now he BOASTS in the GLORY of God and PRAISES HIM in the middle of hiding in a cave with a bunch of humble, destitute men, while a powerful King is hunting you down.
Next David says (verse 3 from the ESV): “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!”
What does a magnifying glass do? It makes things look bigger!
God is already BIG my friends. But sometimes our perception of Him is so small. We think He could not possibly change our situation. We doubt His ability to bring something good out of the worst circumstances.
David is calling us to get a BIGGER perception of God and WHO HE IS!
Where is God tugging on your heart today? Where is He asking you to extol (enthusiastically praise) Him, to boast in Him even in your humbling places? Where is He inviting YOU to MAGNIFY Him and perceive His limitlessness? Where is He leading you to be an encouragement to others who are feeling downcast and dejected?
“Magnify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together.”
Lord, I want nothing more than to magnify YOU! When I look to You, may my face radiantly reflects Your infinite Glory, and I will never be put to shame. When I have called upon you, you have rescued me. Even when I cannot see it, You protect me; You have said the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear You. I have tasted and seen that You are good, Lord!
I lift my heart in praise to You through this song! "Magnify" by We are Messengers.