Change My Attitude
(21) When my heart was embittered and my inner man pierced, (22) I was brutish and ignorant. I was like a beast before you, (23) yet, I am always with you. You grasp hold of my right hand. (24) You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me to glory. (25) Whom have I in heaven (but you)? And apart from you there is nothing in which I delight on earth. (26) My flesh and my heart may fail, but God (is) the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (27) For, behold, those who are far from you will perish. You will put an end to all those who betray (their love for) you. (28) But as for me, (it is) good to be in God’s presence. I have made the Lord Yahweh my refuge so that I may declare all your wondrous works.
This concluding segment of the psalm contains one repetition and two clusters of related words. First, we find “heart” used three times (once in vs. 21 and twice in vs. 26). At the beginning of the segment, the psalmist describes his attitude with five striking descriptives: “embittered...pierced” (vs. 21), “brutish...ignorant...like a beast” (vs. 22). The second set of terms refers to our eternal existence with God: “always” (vs. 23), “afterward” (vs. 24), and “forever” (vs. 26).
I. My experience: God has always been there for me. (21-24)
II. My reasoning: God is my strength and portion. (25 & 26)
III. My conclusion: I want to remain close to God. (27 & 28)
God's faithfulness through all our struggles should convince us that our relationship with him is our greatest treasure.
Several years ago a worship leader from South Africa wrote and then taught our international church in Milan a song that has ministered to the congregation ever since. Although never published, its message is a powerful reminder that each of us needs to become more like Jesus. The chorus contains a memorable pair of lines: “Change my attitude. Change my gratitude. / Make me more like Jesus every day.” That change of attitude from griping to gratitude, from complaining to contentment, is precisely what we see taking place in the heart of Asaph in this psalm.
In the final segment the author describes his bitterness with these strong words: “Brutish and ignorant, I was like a beast before you” (vs. 22). He felt desperate, trapped, and ready to lash out with fangs and claws. But then, in the sanctuary (vs. 17) where he could meditate on God’s faithfulness, his attitude was transformed from the instinctive ferocity of a cornered animal to the grateful confession of a devoted worshiper: “God is the trength of my heart and my portion forever” (vs. 26). In the closing verse, Asaph shows us how we can maintain an attitude of gratitude no matter what life may bring our way: “But as for me, (it is) good to be in God’s presence” (vs. 28). The closer we walk with God the sweeter our diposition will be.