Psalm 3:3 (NLT)
But you, O Lord, are a shield around me;
you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
When my wife graduated from high school, their graduation song has been met with some criticism from school heads because their setup did not include a minus one. There was a guitar player, and someone was striking a beatbox to maintain a rhythm. Their batch chose the song High by The Speaks featuring Barbie Almalbis, which was pretty famous during that time.
I have not attended her graduation since we were not in a relationship during that time, but I attended some of their practice sessions before their ceremony. They were really into the song. Aside from being an ear candy one-hit-wonder with easy notes and chords to follow, the message of the song was simple and precise: holding each other’s head up high, that is, to help others overcome their sadness, their challenges, and their problems.
Our teachers said that one of the principals then was furious as it seemed to have been a rock concert in the formal venue at school. For other batches, it was said that the school heads started to check the lyrics and the genre of the songs that graduates would choose.
For me, the song struck a familiar chord as I would often hear the words “lift my head high” in church. Unfortunately, I often mistake this as similar to the phrase “lifting my hands,” as if the action of lifting one’s head is an act of worship or piety before God.
I would only understand the real meaning of this metaphor in later life, especially in the third Psalm, which was written by David when he was being hunted by his son Absalom to kill him. Prior to the text cited above, David writes, “O Lord, I have so many enemies; so many are against me.” So many are saying, ‘God will never rescue him!’ (Psalm 3:1-2, NLT)”
Yet he got his resolve as he acknowledged that God was a shield around him, and in his deepest moments, God is able to lift up his head. Oftentimes, when we are crying in desperation, we tend to bow and sometimes even bury our faces in our hands. We cry and sob, our heads lowered, and at times when fatigue subdues us, we sleep to forget the sadness.
While crying or being in despair is not a sin, God is there to hold our heads up when it is necessary. But sometimes, we expect a giant hand to be the one to lift our heads up. During these moments, we often question if God really does care and when His help will come.
But we do not need to wait for the supernatural hand of God to come down from heaven and save us. As he felt helpless awaiting death from his son’s hands, David was led to sing to God. In verse 4, we see how he declares that God hears him before the interlude. And afterward, in verses 5 and 6, David emphasizes that he woke up in safety.
What was God’s way of lifting his head up? It might have been his soldiers. It might have been nature that halted the way of his killer. It might even be something supernatural. Yet the clear thing is that God is there to lift his head high, rescue him from his sadness, and preserve his life.
One of the modern contemporary songs that I enjoyed these past years is the short chorus of Surrounded (Fight My Battles). It is a simple song emphasizing two things: worshipping God is how we should fight our battles, and even though it may seem that our enemies surround us, we are abundantly surrounded by God’s presence.
Perhaps in my high school, there will be no other graduation song similar to that of High in the years to come, by the message of the song remains. We can be the ones to surround our friends to help them in their need, as a sign of God’s surrounding power, lifting their heads up high.