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Psalm 43: Hope in God

As I pointed out in the lesson Psalm 42 most scholars will agree that Psalm 42 and 43 were originally one song:  They point to three strong signs supporting their view:

  • The common theme and continuous flow of both psalms.
  • The lack of a title or heading to Psalm 43.
  • The repeated refrain in both psalms (42:5, 11; 43:5).  

Both Psalms give us some insight into the heart and life of David. He was going through some exceedingly difficult times in his life but because His heart was set on serving God, he looked to Him for help. Both Psalms give us practical steps to take when we feel that we are distant from God and wonder if He has forsaken us.

Verse 1 explains what was going on in David’s life: He had enemies and they were mistreating him.  Then in verse 2 he describes what is going on in his soul in response to the problem: “You are God my stronghold.  Why have you rejected me?  Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?  His heart is divided between saying “You are the God in whom I take refuge,” then also saying in the next line, “Why have you rejected me?” I believe David was struggling with the promise of God in Psalm 84:11: “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”  He was perplexed as to why God would allow his enemies to get the upper hand and persecute him. When he says, “Why have you rejected me?” he seems to mean, “Why do you turn your back and let the enemy make me miserable?  To David it seems that God had given him over to the scorn and threat of his enemies.   With boldness and staunch conviction, he asked God to judge or vindicate him, to determine that he was innocent of his enemies’ accusations.

At various times in our lives, we find ourselves trapped in situations over which we have no control. Like the psalmist, we may be victims of slander or false judgment by people who want to hurt us. Or, we may be facing grave illness, marital or family problems, financial crises, or the death of a loved one. At some point in time, we will all know the feeling of being powerless to change an extremely grievous situation.  You can see it in the words of the man in Mark 9:24, “I believe, help my unbelief.” You can see it in Paul’s struggles in Romans 7:19, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”

When or if we reach such a state of being that we do not have the ability to handle the situation we need to remember that God can do what we cannot do.  Thankfully, He invites us to come boldly to His holy throne, seeking grace and mercy to help us in our time of need (Heb. 4:16).

“Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us” (2 Cor. 1:10).

“Let your conversation [conduct] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Heb. 13:5-6).

“And he said, The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior; thou savest me from violence” (2 Sam. 22:2-3).

“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Isa. 43:2).

David pled for two things that were more significant than the mere desire to be vindicated:  The first is that he speaks to God (in verse 3 and 4) and asks for God to “Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.”  The other is that he speaks to his own soul (in verse 5) and calls on his soul to hope in God.  David knew that his heart was divided, and he was in the dark and needed the {spiritual} light of God and His truth to lead him to the altar of God to worship Him.  Authentic joy in God will overflow with praises. In fact, as C.S. Lewis says in his book on the Psalms, “we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.”

His first strategy was to speak to God. His second is to speak to his own soul. Verse 5: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

Here are the steps we can take when we feel we are suffering for whatever the reason.  First pray to God and seek His help and second preach to ouselves and ask why we are cast down and in the state of turmoil.  Realize we need to hope in God because we will come out of the difficulty and praise God for our salvation.