OCTOBER 9, 2023
I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
As to why David wrote this psalm and for whom, there is much discussion in rabbinical works. The reason for this diversity of opinion revolves around the phrase seen at the heading of this psalm — “To the Chief Musician. On the Death of the Son.” In Hebrew the last of the phrase is translated from the words, mut (death) l'van (to the son). Some commentators surmise the son in question may have been Absalom, but most conclude that the son referred to is the one born to Bathsheba who died as a seven-day old infant. You will recall this is the child born as a result of David's scandalous and adulterous affair.
Others suggest the word l'van may have another meaning, while remaining connected to the thoughts above. They argue that the Hebrew word l'van should not be translated as “to the son” but as the “to whiten.” The word laban does in fact mean “white” and, therefore, this idea is not to be considered as farfetched. But why would David compose a psalm about being whitened one might ask? That is, in fact, the very thing that connects the two ideas together. In other words, the death of his young son was, in part, a consequence of his sin, meaning that God allowed him to endure a great trial that was engineered to render repentance. God allowed David to go through a great trial, at the end of which, David arose, washed himself and changed his clothes. He realized that God was putting him through the process of repentance and forgiveness. In short, l'van has a double meaning: it was the “death of the son” that caused David to be “whitened.”
Instead of being melancholy and composing a dirge, David went before the LORD with song and with adoration saying, “I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.” How many of us could do this under such circumstances? Admittedly, it is difficult to come out of such a distressing situation and immediately burst forth into praise, and yet, David did so, and in so doing, challenges us to do the same. All of us have grappled with remorse over our failures and grief over our losses, still in spite of those how we feel at the moment, it behooves us to praise Him with our whole heart and sing praise to His Name. That might be just the thing to pull us out of our grief and despair.