We may not have David’s certainty that our gruelling circumstances, our painful illnesses, our losses and setbacks, are evidences of God’s disfavor. But we must at least consider it, we must at least pray with David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!”
It is a hard truth, but also an intuitive truth: God disciplines the ones he loves and chastises his children. After all, what father does not at times have to correct his son, for what son does not at times need correction? In this way discipline is proof of a father’s concern for his child, evidence of his paternal affection. No good father leaves his child to run rampant according to his own whims, according to his own folly. No good father withholds loving correction, patient discipline, from the child he loves.
King David once fell under God’s chastening hand. For reasons left unrecorded, he had become ill and was near to death. It was in this desperate condition that he cried out for help. And when he cried out, God reached down and lifted him up from the gates of death. God drew him up from the depths of suffering like a man draws up water from the depths of a well.
With his life preserved and health restored, David sang of God’s kindness, God’s love, God’s comfort. “His anger is but for a moment,” he said, “and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” There are encouraging contrasts here: Anger is set against favor and moments against lifetimes. Weeping contrasts joy and night contrasts morning.
“His anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime,” exclaimed David. God’s righteous anger toward his people is real, but lasts only as long as necessary; his favor toward his people is equally real, and never ends. God’s anger is like the pre-dawn mist that gives way before the morning sun, like the spring frost that settles to the ground in the night and melts with the first light of day. God’s favor, though, is like the mountains that stand strong forever, like the seas that never run dry.