Psalm 43: a continuation
Psalm 43 (1) Vindicate me, my God, and plead my cause against an unfaithful nation. Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked. (2) You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? (3) Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. (4) Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. (5) Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Some Bible scholars believe that Psalms 42 and 43 are in fact one poem or song, and that the two might have been separated within a later Greek translation. The reason the two seem to be the same song is the similar language, but also in the three lines or refrains that link the whole:
Why, my soul are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed Irwin me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my savior and my God. Psalm 42:11 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 43:5
Refrains! Like the chorus in a song.
However, other commentators warn against claiming theories of error or misplacement in the Bible: like suggesting that somehow these two psalms should be one and someone made a later choice to change it. Charles Spurgeon suggests that maybe the author of this psalm added an appendix or another stanza in the song later in life.
Divine inspiration placed this psalm where it is. No errors. No misplacements.
The third stanza of this poem, or the appendix, whatever we want to call it, is a call to God as divine judge and deliverer from unjust and evil people.
Declare me innocent, O God! Defend me against these ungodly people. Rescue me from these unjust liars. For you are God, my only safe haven. Why have you tossed me aside? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies? Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. Psalm 43:1-3 NLT
The author has been treated unfairly by people who do not know or have rejected the Lord. We have seen this theme in other psalms, the call on God as Divine Judge to rain down judgment and vengeance against those who harm His children. The author isn’t taking vengeance into his own hands, he is laying it at the base of the throne of his God.
I can laugh at human misrepresentation if my conscience knows that thou art on my side; thou art the only one I care for; and besides, thy verdict will not sleep, but thou wilt see practical justice done to thy slandered servant.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. Psalm 43:3 NLT
What a beautiful verse. The author sees only darkness and depression around him, so he calls to God to lead the way.
Oh, that we would lift this prayer to God every morning. “Father, send me your Light and Truth, so that they can brighten my path and show me the way home to you.”
And, by the way, God answered this prayer in an amazing way, didn’t he?
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." John 8:12 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
When we needed help, God, Himself, showed up! He is the Light of the world, and He is the way and the truth and the life. God is all that we need. When we cried out to God for help, He came Himself!
This verse, this request for God’s presence as Light and Truth turns the tide of the psalm from pleading to praise. God had arrived and strengthened the singer. And all it took was submission, the author submitted himself to the need for the Light and Truth to see his way home.
Common light is not strong enough to show us the road to heaven, nor will mere moral or physical truths assist to the holy hill; but the light of the Holy Spirit, and the truth as it is in Jesus, these are elevating, sanctifying, perfecting; and hence their virtue in leading us to the glorious presence of God.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
There I will go to the altar of God, to God- the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God! Psalm 43:4 NLT
Other translations say: my joy and my delight, my exceeding joy, the source of all my joy!
What is the source of your joy?
The author says: “Lord show me the way to you, you are the source of my joy that I have lost, lead me with your truth and your light to your throne, and there I will praise you.”
God is not just the maintainer of our joy or the giver of joy- He is our joy.
To draw near to God, who is such a joy to us, may well be the object of our hungering and thirsting.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
Once the author had found his way to God by the Light and Truth, what does he do? He will offer praise with music and song upon the altar.
As Jesus became the Lamb on the cross, covering our sins centuries later, the blood sacrifice is over. Believers are still required to sacrifice on the altar of God though. The sacrifice of worship, praise, song. When God is the joy in our hearts, then our souls will sing back to him.
Worship comes in many different ways, but its purpose is always a sacrifice on the altar of God. How do you worship God?
worship: (Mirriam-webster dictionary) to honor or show reverence for; to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor or devotion.
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise- the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:15-16
The author of this psalm was lost, and then he was led by the Light and Truth to the throne of God. There, he offered praise and worship to the One who saves.
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again- my Savior and my God! Psalm 43:5 NLT
Nothing had changed for the author of this psalm, except for his attitude. His circumstances were still the same: he was in exile, he was far from home and far from the temple, he was persecuted and alone. But through prayer and praise and worship, the Lord had lifted his heart. The Lord had given hope to him again.
The more terrible the storm, the more necessary is the anchor.William S. Plumer, American Theologian, 1802-1880
The hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads through the curtain into God's inner sanctuary. Hebrews 6:19 NLT
God’s deliverance had not arrived yet. But he hoped for it. He waited for it. The author would not allow fear to overwhelm him. He brought his worries to God, cast them at His throne, and believed. He trusted in God.
When we wait for an answer to a prayer, or we wait for healing, or we wait for redemption, may we remember that God has always been faithful.
He will provide. He will answer. He will arrive and save.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8
Father in heaven, you are our strength, you are our joy, you are our savior. Give us these things that we need today. We praise you and worship you today. You are faithful. We thank you that you are present always and that you never leave us. You alone are Light and Truth. Give us the strength to wait and to hope and to trust in you. We love you. Amen.