QUESTION: Why does the Bible, and the psalms in particular, mention “morning” so often?
The Old Testament employs two main Hebrew terms for “morning”: boqer, referring mainly to a moment of time, the daybreak; and shachar, designating the first reddish light at early dawn. A quick study of each is both spiritually and theologically enriching.
1. Associated With the Dynamic of Life: The dawn transitions us from rest to action, as if at daybreak there is an explosion of life on the planet. Nature is renewed (Ps. 90:6; Isa. 17:11); humans work the fields (Eccl. 11:6), build (Neh. 4:21), go on journeys (Gen. 24:54), go to war (Joshua 8:10), and sub-mit to God’s will for them (Gen. 22:3). In the morning human life is energized, re-activated; it is a new beginning. But this is possible only because God is also fully active in the morning. His love and compassion “are new every morning” (Lam. 3:23).* The New Testament tells us that something glorious and unique happened in the morning: Jesus walked out of the tomb alive (Matt. 28:1; Luke 24:1-3)! Because of Him the morning is ever associated with life and light.
2. Time for Worship: Since the morning is associated with life, it was considered to be the time when God’s people were to worship Him. Hence we read: “In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” (Ps. 5:3; cf. 88:13). The psalmist praises the Lord and proclaims His love “in the morning” (92:1, 2) when the Temple priests offered the morning sacrifice and the nation collectively worshipped the Lord (Lev. 6:12). But the morning was also a time for worship at home (Job 1:5). New beginnings were moments for the rededication of the family to the Lord.
3. Associated With God as Judge: It is in the morning that God reveals His justice. He commanded the king to “administer justice every morning” (Jer. 21:12). The oppressed suffered during the night, but they looked forward to the morning when the king would judge and vindicate them. This image is applied to God as the universal judge who “is righteous; he does no wrong. Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail” (Zeph. 3:5). The morning is, therefore, the time when God examines and judges us in order to vindicate and deliver us and to grant sinners what they legally deserve (Num. 16:5; Joshua 7:14, 16).
4. Ends the Darkness of the Night: Evil could rule during the night, but it comes to an end in the morning. In darkness immoral behavior is practiced (Prov. 7:18; Judges 19:25) and God’s enemies plot against His people (Isa. 17:14). But it is also during the night that God defeats them, thus identifying the morning as the moment when His saving power is revealed (2 Kings 19:35; Gen. 19:27, 28).
Of course, biblical writers knew that “weeping may remain for a night,” but they also understood that “rejoicing comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5). They were acquainted with the complexity of human existence, yet they could still say, “I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble” (Ps. 59:16). The phrase “in the morning” became an expression of hope and trust in the Lord in the midst of trials (see Isa. 33:2).
The phrase “in the morning” points toward a time when there will be a new beginning, made possible through the resurrection of Jesus, when life will flourish in all its beauty and glory; when humans will be able to sing praises to the Lord and to worship Him as the very source of life. It also points to the time when the night of sin and death will end as the dawn of the consummation of our salvation becomes a reality. It will be a morning when God’s work of judgment will vindicate His people and renew His creation. This will happen when Jesus, “the bright Morning Star,” appears (Rev. 22:16).
*Bible quotations in this article are from the New International Version (NIV).