A number of psalms discuss being faced with enemies and relying on God. Some of these topics may be familiar to us, but others are much less so. For myself, I cannot relate to being violently oppressed by enemies. Even though this is the case, there is still much that we can learn from Psalm 43. It begins with the words,
Vindicate me, God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation. Oh, deliver me from deceitful and wicked men. 2 For you are the God of my strength. Why have you rejected me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?Psalm 43:1-2
From the above, we may initially relate to the idea of an ungodly nation. After all, injustices of all sorts are discussed on our news media on a regular basis. Examples of other forms of wickedness may also be found rather easily online. Some of these may be related to the actions of our nation. However, we shouldn’t impose our current situations into the text.
Instead, it would probably be wiser to remember the ungodly nations that were around the People of Israel. They were wicked, and some of them oppressed the Jews. This is essentially said as such when the author of the text describes his mourning at the oppression of the enemy.
When I read that, it makes me think of the Philistines and their fights with the Israelites. They were regular enemies of the Jews, and in the first book of history they are spoken of as still remaining in the land (Josh. 13:1-3). Multiple battles between them and Israel are also reported in First Samuel (1 Sam. 4, 7, 17). Even if Psalm 43 is not in the context of the battles between the Philistines and the Israelites, I do believe that military control is in the background for this text. With mention of these men being deceitful and wicked, I believe that violence was also a possibility.
While these situations are unlikely to be the kinds of things we are dealing with today, the principles found in the author’s response are applicable. Some of us may wonder, “If God is so strong, why is He not delivering me? Why am I rejected?”
The man in this psalm asks very similar questions. The way that he responds to them is much of what we can learn from this passage. One thing that is important to remember is that when we are going through periods of suffering, it doesn’t mean that God has rejected us.
A long study could be prepared that discusses different times that godly men and women suffered during times of obedience. The prophets Jeremiah and John immediately come to mind. As do the apostles Peter and Paul. I would assert that they were faithful to God, and yet still suffered at the hands of ungodly people.
Nonetheless, God didn’t abandon them. Likewise, when we suffer at the hands of ungodliness, this isn’t a sign of Him rejecting us either. This key lesson is one reason why we can still learn from this psalm today even if many of us are not dealing with violent oppression.
A Request for Direction
After the author asks his questions of God about rejection and oppression, the direction in the passage begins to change. The man asks God to send out His light and truth so that they lead him.
Oh, send out your light and your truth. Let them lead me. Let them bring me to your holy hill, to your tents.Psalm 43:3
This is another instance of the psalm sharing a truth that is readily applicable for us. Both light and truth are spoken of throughout the Bible.
For instance, the apostle John teaches that God is light (1 John 1:5). In the Psalms it is said that the word is a lamp to one’s feet and a light for one’s path (Psa. 119:105). Concerning truth, both the apostle Paul, and the writer of Hebrews tell us that God cannot lie (Tts. 1:1-2; Heb. 6:17-18). All that He says is truth, and Jesus affirms the same concerning the Word of God (John 17:17).
From these passages, and Genesis 1, we understand that God is the source of both light and truth. This is worth pointing out because, again, the author pleads with God to send these things to him. Without light and truth, he would be in darkness and lies like the wicked who were mentioned earlier. As the verse continues, we understand that light and truth can bring the author to a place where God dwells. His holy hill (as taught in the Old Testament). I already explored some of that terminology when I studied Psalm 15.
The next verse tells us what he plans on doing once he is at God’s holy hill.
Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my exceeding joy. I will praise you on the harp, God, my God.Psalm 43:4
This verse is fascinating to me because of how the writer changes the subject. Initially he speaks of going to the altar of God. A physical place. Then to the God of Israel. Finally, he mentions “my exceeding joy.” His statement has become personal. This man who is being oppressed by his enemies has now fully changed his focus. He has moved from his immediate physical circumstances to God and what He means to him.
He is looking forward to what will be his again. The joy of God Himself. A great blessing that is not available to those who are oppressing him. He plans on praising God with the harp. Not just God, but his God. Again, personal.
This realization of the joy of God, and being able to praise Him in worship is magnificent. By its inclusion in the Scriptures, it demonstrates a similar change that can be done for ourselves in our own lives. When we face challenges or rejection by others, we can also turn our gaze to God and worship of Him. Having fellowship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Questions for Oneself
Why are you in despair, my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God! For I shall still praise him: my Savior, my helper, and my God.Psalm 43:5
In the last verse the author asks two more questions, but this time to himself. Remarkably, he doesn’t actually answer them. Instead he shares a proper perspective. He tells his soul to hope in God! His words continue. He will praise His Savior, Helper, and God. May we all do the same!
Praising the Almighty can be done at all times, and in all circumstances. For He is our Savior, Helper, and God. There is no one who is above Him.
Light Shining Through a Foggy Forest by jplenio from Pixabay.