Psalm 43

Psalm 43 is a prayer for rescue, from wicked men and an ungodly nation.

Like Psalm 42, the psalmist takes his questions and emotions to God in prayer. He addresses God as my stronghold, my protection. And in the safety of that relationship, he is able to ask “Why?”

You are God my stronghold.
Why have you rejected me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy? (v. 2)

In the midst of his dark and oppressive circumstances, the psalmist asks God for light and truth to guide him into God’s presence where he can worship.

Send forth your light and your truth,
let them guide me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you dwell.
Then will I go to the altar of God,
to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God. (v. 3-4)

When we are oppressed by the enemy, when we feel rejected, when all seems dark, we too need God’s light and truth.

We need light to see ourselves and our circumstances clearly, to look for God’s presence and find a path to worship.

We need truth to remind us that God is still who He says He is. No matter how dark things appear, He is still my God, my stronghold, my joy, my delight, and my Savior.

We need God’s light and truth to guide us.

And like the psalmist, we need to speak the truth to our emotions.

Emotions are like warning lights on a car’s dash: they alert you that something is wrong, but they do not give solutions.

Truth is the solution.

When all is dark, we may feel rejected. We may feel oppressed and weighted down. When our difficult circumstances do not change, we may feel hopeless.

We need to speak the truth to ourselves.

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God. (v. 5)

When you are downcast and disturbed, remember the truth.

With God, hope is never lost.

Put your hope in God.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,to the one who seeks him.
Lamentations 3:25

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.
Micah 7:7

Father, send your light and your truth to guide me today. I place my hope in You. I will praise You, no matter what my circumstances hold. You are my joy and my delight, my Savior and my God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

psalm 43

Psalm 42

Water is life.

Its molecular shape and physical properties make water uniquely able to sustain the biochemical process that support all living things, from one-celled organisms to giant sequoias to you and me.

So great is our need for water that it covers more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and makes up around 70 percent of our bodies.

We can live only three days without drinking water. Dehydration has negative effects after a matter of hours, not days. Weakness, headaches, and confusion are some of the symptoms of a body that lacks water.

The water levels in our bodies are constantly changing. We lose water when we sweat and every time we exhale. So our brains have neural networks that constantly monitor our body’s water levels. When levels are too low, the brain sends out emergency signals that we register as thirst. The message from the brain is “Drink water now”.

Thirst is the body’s signal to find water, to replenish, to preserve our very life.

Psalm 42 uses thirst as a metaphor for intense longing for God.

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God? (v. 1-2)

The psalmist says soul thirst causes him to seek the living God, like physical thirst drives a deer to search for streams of water.

The psalmist is in the midst of troubled times. Tears flow day and night. Others around him are questioning the goodness of God. His soul is downcast, thirsty for time with God to replenish his worn emotions.

As he pours out his soul before God, the psalmist does two things: he remembers, and he speaks.

He remembers happy times when he joined others in corporate worship, participating in a multitude of praise and worship.

These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
How I used to go with the multitude,
leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving
among the festive throng. (v. 4)

And the psalmist remembers past times of intimacy with the sovereign God.

My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you…
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers have swept over me. (v. 6-7)

In addition to remembering, the psalmist speaks.

He speaks to his own soul, reminding himself of the truth that with God, hope is never lost. He reminds his soul to praise in spite of his circumstances. He reminds his soul that the living God is a personal Savior – my Savior and my God.

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God. (v. 5)

And the psalmist speaks to God. He pours out his soul before the Lord, confessing that his feelings tell him he has been forgotten by God even though he knows truth that God is with him. Again, the living God is personal – my Rock. His “why” questions are safe with God.

By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me –
a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?” (v. 8-9)

Psalm 42 closes by speaking again directly to the soul, to the emotional center.

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God. (v. 11)

Spiritual thirst drove the psalmist to God.

Having spent time in God’s presence, remembering God’s love and salvation, the psalmist is able to redirect his “why” questions. With so great a Savior, the only question that remains is “Why are you downcast, O my soul?” And he has the answer: Turn to the living God, your Rock, and put your hope in Him, not in changing circumstances. Praise Him while you wait.

Physical thirst drives us to find water.
Spiritual thirst can drive us to find God.

Spiritual thirst differs from physical thirst, however. We will die if we go three days without water. We can exist without meeting with God.

But can we truly live?

Just like a lack of water can cause the body to become weak and confused, we are spiritually weak and confused by our circumstances when we do not spend time with God. We need to meet with God each day to find strength and wisdom. We need to be replenished daily with living water from the living God.

Jesus spoke of this living water we need.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:37-38

The living water that Jesus provides cannot be diminished by drought or changing circumstances. Living water is a never-ending spring accessed by faith. And when our hearts are satisfied, filled to overflowing in the presence of the Savior, we can face whatever the day holds.

Father, I want to thirst after You like my body thirsts for water. I want to long for time in Your presence each day. Make me thirsty for You. Thank you for living water that satisfies the soul. When I feel forgotten, I will remember You, my Savior and my God. I put my hope in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

psalm 42

 

 

but as for me…

The Bible tells it like it is.

In particular, the Psalmists and the prophets unflinchingly record the troubles that afflict all people, even God’s people.  Attacks from enemies, betrayals by friends,  loss of resources, unexpected disease…all are documented in honest detail.

Why not just record the blessings, the good stuff?  Because life holds both blessing and trouble.  God knows that while we find it easy to celebrate blessings, we desperately need help in knowing what to do when troubles come.

Amazingly, grammar can point us to the help we need.

In the English language, “but” is a conjunction, a striking word that both connects and contrasts ideas or events.  So as we read the Bible, the word “but” often signals a crucial turning point, an opportunity in the midst of devastating trials to choose between despair over circumstances or hope in God.

But as for me…

Psalm 55 records a litany of David’s trials – enemy attacks, fear of death, oppression, fraud, betrayal.  David calls out to God, unafraid to describe his troubles.  In chaos of his circumstances, he chooses to trust God and reject despair.

But as for me, I will trust in you. Psalm 55:23b

Psalm 71 describes a time of physical weakness which leaves the writer vulnerable to attack.  Even when his strength was spent, the psalmist clings to hope and chooses praise, directing his focus to God’s faithfulness instead of his circumstances.

But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.  Psalm 71:14 

Micah was a prophet who wrote to God’s people of a coming attack, of the ways their sin had separated them from God, and of God’s faithfulness to forgive.  He shows us that even though some troubles are of our own making, we can still have hope in our God, the Savior who redeems all things.

But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.  Micah 7:7

Troubles reveal our focus.

When we focus on our circumstances, despair takes root.

When we focus on God and His faithfulness, hope flourishes.

The good news:  faith makes it possible to choose our focus.

What troubles are you facing?  Shocking diagnosis, family turmoil, betrayal, uncertainty, injustice, unforeseen consequences, loss of income?

Do what David, Micah, and the Psalmists did…

Bring your troubles to God. List them in detail, confident that He hears you.

Then, make the contrast.  Shift your focus.

But as for me…

Choose to focus on the faithfulness of God.  Take refuge in His steadfast and unfailing love. Praise Him while you watch and wait for Him to act on your behalf.

But as for me…I will always have hope.