Separated? No, connected through worship
Psalm 42 and 43 are part of the same prayer. The sense is of a priest or Levite who has been separated from the place of worship (perhaps captured, or exiled?) but is going to call on God’s light and truth to be His own ‘Temple presence’ as he will worship anyway. This psalm reminds us that the walk of faith in God always brings a spiritual battle – sometimes one that is painfully apparent. However, we are responsible for our walk: being spiritually discerning, trusting God, and being led by God’s light and truth.
1 Give judgement for me, O God,
and defend my cause against an ungodly people;
deliver me from the deceitful and the wicked.
2 For you are the God of my refuge;
why have you cast me from you,
and why go I so heavily, while the enemy oppresses me?
- The psalmist was referring to physical, and often armed, enemies. However our spiritual enemy, Satan, does much of his work through people he is able to deceive and use for his ends. There is also the oppression of negative and fearful thoughts he puts in our minds – the battle of the mind.
3 O send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me,
and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling,
- *let them lead me… let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell (NIV rendering)
4 That I may go to the altar of God,
to the God of my joy and gladness;
and on the lyre I will give thanks to you, O God my God.
- It is not just about the blessing of receiving light and truth from the Lord. it is also the release into praise despite circumstances which is powerful.
5 Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul,
and why are you so disquieted within me?
6 O put your trust in God;
for I will yet give him thanks,
who is the help of my countenance, and my God.
- As we look back to Christian saints and heroes of the past (The Bible uses the term ‘saint’ much more widely than those officially canonised by the Roman Catholic establishment) we see over and over again this quality of praising God for His goodness in the face of challenging circumstances. True saints know the light and truth and praise Him as the source of it.
Imitate the saints – who held on to God’s light and truth in a foreign land (Psalm 43)
The songwriter who gave us Psalm 42-43 was hearing God as one removed from the worship centre, the Temple, and made to live in a foreign land. Rejected and exiled and having no influence and no position – another kind of outsider.
But that lack of self-reliance, that dependence on God when everything else has been stripped away, that is a heart God can speak into. We can imitate that by choosing not to place reliance on position or a comfortable sense of belonging and tradition. The saints of old knew they needed God, and He met them there.