IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES
TOPIC: GARMENT OF PRAISE INSTEAD OF A SACKCLOTH
Rev. Innocent Chukwudi Peace-Udochukwu
President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM
” Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;”
THE Lord turned the captivity of Job.” So, then, our longest sorrows have a close, and there is a bottom to the profoundest depths of our misery. Our winters shall not frown forever: summer shall soon smile. The tide shall not eternally ebb out: the floods must retrace their march. The night shall not hang its darkness forever over our souls: the sun shall yet arise with healing beneath his wings. “The Lord turned the captivity of Job.” Thus, too, our sorrows shall have an end when God has gotten His end in them. The ends in the case of Job were these, that Satan might be defeated, foiled with his own weapons, blasted in his hopes when he had every thing his own way. God, at Satan’s challenge, had stretched forth his hand and touched Job in his bone and in his flesh; and yet the tempter could not prevail against him, but received his rebuff in those conquering words, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” When Satan is defeated, then shall the battle cease.
The phrase garment of praise is a metaphor for the gladness and thanksgiving God’s people feel when they are filled with the joy of the Lord. In ancient times, it was customary for a grieving person to wear sackcloth (see Esther 4:1). The garment of praise is the opposite of sackcloth; it is brightly colored raiment indicative of celebration. The Christian Standard Bible translates it as “splendid clothes.”
Isaiah speaks of a garment of praise in a prophecy that the coming Messiah would “provide for those who grieve in Zion.” The Lord promises that He would “bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3).
God created human beings to worship and glorify Him (Jeremiah 13:11; Isaiah 43:7; Ephesians 2:10). Jesus came to atone for our sin, to make a way for us to be restored to fellowship with God. He longs for us to turn to Him in faith and let Him fill us with His joy (Acts 13:52; 1 Thessalonians 1:6). When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, and we cannot help but praise Him Ephesians 5:18–20
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever”
David faced many problems and confronted many enemies. He battled sickness and discouragement. At times, his burdens were so heavy that he wept all night. He felt “dismayed” as he made mistakes and experienced God’s anger. And he knew how it felt when God hid His face.
But everything changed when he humbledhimself and called on the Lord. David asked God to hear him, to “be gracious,” and to be his “helper.”
David discovered that God could change his circumstances. He could turn the moments of mourning into times of celebration. He could lift darkness and replace it with light.
He could change hopelessness into hope.
Because of this, David could be confident instead of fearful about his circumstances. He could become so radiant that he sang songs of praise. Instead of cursing his circumstances or wallowing in anguish, he could be filled with thanksgiving.
How easily we can become absorbed in the emotions of the moment. Reacting to daily events, we can become saturated with anger or bitterness, fear or worry.
But everything can change when we commit these situations to God. He can give us victory, no matter what the issue…no matter what adversaries and obstacles we face…no matter what is going on in the world…no matter how hopeless things may appear to our natural minds.
Instead of being worried and afraid, we can trust in the Lord. He can turn around any situation.
God takes away the mourning of his people; and what does he give them instead of it? Quiet and peace? Aye, and a great deal more than that. Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing. He makes their hearts to dance at the sound of his name. He takes off their sackcloth. That is good. What a delight to be rid of the habiliments of woe! But what then? He clothes us. And how? With some common dress? Nay, but with that royal vestment which is the array of glorified spirits in heaven. Thou hast girded me with gladness. This is better than to wear garments of silk or cloth of gold, bedight with embroidery and bespangled with gems. Many a poor man wears this heavenly apparel wrapped around his heart, though fustian and corduroy are his only outward garb; and such a man needs not envy the emperor in all his pomp. Glory be to thee, O God, if, by a sense of full forgiveness and present justification, thou hast enriched my spiritual nature, and filled me with all the fulness of God.
It would be a shameful crime, if, after receiving God’s mercies, we should forget to praise him. God would not have our tongues lie idle while so many themes for gratitude are spread on every hand. He would have no dumb children in the house. They are all to sing in heaven, and therefore they should all sing on earth. Let us sing with the poet:
“I would begin the music here,
And so my soul should rise:
Oh for some heavenly notes to bear
My passions to the skies.”
O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.
“I will praise him in life; I will praise him in death;
I will praise him as long as he lendeth me breath;
And say when the death dew lays cold on my brow,
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, it is now.”
Something of the joy of victory we know even here. Have you ever struggled against an evil heart, and at last overcome it? Have you ever wrestled hard with a strong temptation, and known what it was to sing with thankfulness, “When I said my feet slipped, Thy mercy, O Lord, held me up?” Have you, like Bunyan’s Christian, fought with Apollyon, and after a fierce contest, put him to flight? Then you have had a foretaste of the heavenly triumph—just an imagining of what the ultimate victory will be. God gives you these partial triumphs, that they may be earnests of the future. Go on and conquer,and let each conquest, though a harder one, and more strenuously contested, be to you as a pledge of the victory of heaven.
The Psalmist thanks the Lord for the great transformation. Earlier he was wailing, he was mourning. Even when he was going through the situation that demanded sorrow, the psalmist decided to offer sacrifices of praise unto God.
Only on Earth can you make a choice to offer sacrifice of Praise. When you offer praise even when you do not feel, it becomes a sacrifice of praise. As you do this, you will see the transformation.
The reason you can do so is that your God is unchanging. He’s good all the time. Sometimes its not easy to understand his goodness because your pain overwhelms you. But when you offer praise beyond understanding, it becomes a sacrifice of praise. It’s so precious. God transforms you as you offer this.
Be on this thought throughout the day and night!
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