But what he asks is that he may have more of the gladness of praise in him. Not prayer but praise is the higher spirit of devotion. Prayer is the utterance of sin, of weakness, of need, of the soul's look up, or struggling or through tears. Praise is the soul telling to God the gladness of deliverance, of new life, of heavenly vision, of divine assurance of hope. Now, while, as I have said, the soul may be hindered from praise by bonds in itself, it may be hindered by its surroundings.
The frail body may so hinder. Healthy people cannot know how much people who suffer from disease of body in some form or other find themselves clogged in life and their souls depressed within them. What a reason for praise they would find it if only they could get well! As when day breaks, or clouds disperse, and the sun shines out, singing birds resume their songs, so does the soul of one long sick feel that it would praise God if only He would give good health.
Harassing world affairs too, have often a depressing imprisoning effect on the soul. People are quite warranted in praying for brighter times and opening ways, that they may be more in the spirit of praise.
Then, as this psalm suggests, a good man may find himself among unsympathetic or hostile people. They find his piety and principle a reproach and offence, and so they try to trip him up, and give him pain and hinder him. His soul cannot go out to them. They shut it up as in a prison. When God removes these adversaries and sets His servant in a congenial place, his soul goes out of prison and sings.
Further, many Christian people have to learn that, with all their faith and piety and rejoicing in salvation through Christ, "one thing is yet lacking" in them that they may praise God with fullness of joy and of acceptance. They are still more or less in a prison of self and the world. The Spirit of God has to bring them out of it into a life of complete filial self-devotion. Only when we live wholly in purpose unto God in Christ are we entirely emancipated from the world and self. To get salvation for ourselves only, as you may see, leaves the soul in a wrong because self-seeking attitude. It must go out of itself into the living, self-giving Christ, whose symbol is the cross, the altar not merely of propitiation, but of self-consecration.