My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad. --Psalm 34:2
I don't much like praising God. It doesn't seem to come naturally to me, and besides, I'd much rather wallow in self-pity. So I skim over verses like this. As a result, it didn't occur to me until recently that this is much more than just another way to praise God. It describes something that the vast majority of us don't do. The reason humble people are glad when they hear it is because they're the only ones who really get it.
You might boast in all sorts of things. Your looks, your money, who you know, your kids. Or more insidiously, you might boast in your moral behavior. If you'll allow a little semantic slippage here, I think of this as the thing you draw sustenance from, the thing that makes you alright with the world, that justifies you being here. For me, that's my recent track record. I can face the day because of late I have met my arbitrary definition of the appropriate amount of hard work, faithfulness, and kindness.
There is no room for God in that scenario. My behavior determines whether I'm up or down on any given day. Getting my strength from this does not just set me up for a bumpy ride. It actually precludes the possibility of Christian living because "good" days inevitably lead to judgment and pride, while "bad" days produce self-absorption and pity. All the while God has not changed, nor has the way he feels about me.
Humble people get this. When God justifies our existence instead of us trying to do it there are no bad days, and good days come by without bringing a spirit of pride and judgment in their wake.