From Psalms 40-45
There is extensive agreement among the majority of interpreters that Ps 42 and 43 should be interpreted as a single psalm. Psalm 42 is described as a lament. It is easier to be outgoing and positive in good health and happy times. Times of distress however can lead to despair. Despair destroys the positive, outgoing view of life and turns a person in upon himself. Today we look at Psalm 43. The Psalmist starts praying to the LORD. This is where his salvation begins.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
The Psalmist is in trouble and calls out to God.
43 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!
2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? (Ps 43.1-2)
Like several other Psalms his is in danger from his enemies. He calls out for vindication.
Vindication is a public display of his righteous status before God and the defeat of his enemies.
His current situation suggests he might have fallen out of favour of the LORD.
He calls out to the LORD for protection because he takes refuge in Him. He calls out because he believes in God. Trusts that he will look after those who call out to him in faith and trust.
3 Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
4 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. (Ps 43.3-4)
He wants the LORD to lead him to the ‘holy hill’ and ‘dwelling’. The tabernacle. There he believes he will be saved from his enemies.
He makes a vow to the LORD to declare his praises after he is delivered. He will rejoice and praise the LORD in song.
Those who sing the LORD’s praises at his dwelling have been saved by the LORD.
Yet his faith is not perfect. The Psalmist recognises a struggle within himself.
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. (Ps 43.5)
A bit of positive self talk. He addresses the part of himself that needs encouragement in his current situation.
“As a prayer the “lament” consists of two basic elements, namely, a plea or petition and praise. One of the main characteristics of the “laments” is that they do not merely lament. At the end of a “lament” there is normally a section that deals with praise. The lament does not end on a “negative note,” but something changes in the course of the psalm so that it often ends in praise after the “I” has been assured of being heard by the LORD.
A “lament” expresses a person’s deepest needs. It is essentially a prayer addressed to God by a person afflicted by some calamity or by someone who is in a disastrous situation, expressing sorrow about the situation and appealing to God for deliverance.
The “laments” reflect the totality of life and describe life as it really is. Psalms of “lament” acknowledge that life does not consist of prosperity only, but that it also has pain, grief, darkness, and evil. The laments illustrate that it is not wrong or an act of unbelief to complain to God about misfortune and to even hold him responsible for it. The psalms in general, and the “laments” in particular, are timeless and universal in that they ask the same questions, refer to the same things, and experience the same problems and disasters that humankind has experienced throughout the ages. These psalms should not be interpreted solely as historical prayers, but they should rather be seen as examples that can serve as models for the modern reader.” (Prinsloo, W.S., 2003. The Psalms. In J. D. G. Dunn & J. W. Rogerson, eds. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, pp. 366–367.)
In the gospel, there was a woman who had spent everything she had to try and get herself healed of an ongoing discharge of blood. According to the Law of Moses this would render her continually unclean before God. Eventually she heard about Jesus and approached him for help.
As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. 43 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. 44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. 45 And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” 47 And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (Lk 8.42-48)
The Psalmist expressed his despair and lament. He had given up on his own power to make things right. But in Psalm 43 he turns to the LORD for help. Like this woman his salvation began when he turned to the LORD.
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