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David Guzik :: Study Guide for Psalm 43

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From Depression to a Procession of Praise

"This psalm is either a part of the previous one or is closely connected with it." (Morgan) In fact, in a number of ancient Hebrew manuscripts Psalm 42 and Psalm 43 are joined together as one unity. They are probably separate psalms, linked by a common problem: spiritual depression.

A. The Psalmist cries out to God.

1. (Psa 43:1) God, where are You when the wicked surround me?

Vindicate me, O God,
And plead my cause against an ungodly nation;
Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!

a. Vindicate me, O God: The psalmist repeats a familiar theme in the Psalms - a cry for vindication. He feel unjustly accused and takes that sense of injustice to the right place - to the throne of God, and he leaves his vindication up to the Lord.

b. Deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! It's hard to deal with deceitful and unjust people, because they not only do wrong but they also know how to cover it up with deceit. In such a tough situation, the psalmist does the right thing - he cries out to God.

2. (Psa 43:2) God, why do You seem so distant from me?

For You are the God of my strength;
Why do You cast me off?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

a. For You are the God of my strength: If the psalmist didn't have a relationship with God, he wouldn't have this problem. Yet he does love the Lord, and his trust is the strength of God and not his own strength - so he wonders where God is at this critical moment of need.

b. Why do You cast me off? Why do I go mourning: Anyone who loves God and walks with God will have to deal with the "whys" - wondering why God doesn't do things just the way we would do it, especially when the answer seems so obvious.

3. (3a) God, I need to be led by Your light and truth.

Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!
Let them lead me;

a. Send out Your light and Your truth! The psalmist knows that his light and his truth isn't enough - he needs the light and truth of the Lord. It isn't within him, so if God doesn't send it, he doesn't have it.

b. Let them lead me: This is a prayer of submission. "Lord, I don't want you to send out Your light and truth just so I may admire them. I really want to submit myself to Your light and Your truth and have them lead me. I need a leader, so lead me!"

i. This begins the psalmist's procession of praise. He began in depression, but will end up praising God - and it all begins with the light and truth of the LORD God leading the way.

ii. "We seek not light to sin by, nor truth to be exalted by it, but that they may become our practical guides to the nearest communion with God." (Spurgeon)

B. The Psalmist describes his response to God's coming answer.

1. (3b) When You answer my prayer, I will come to Your house.

Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacle.

a. Let them bring me: The them of this statement refers back to the light and truth of the same verse. The psalmist wants God's light and truth to lead him to a specific place - to Your holy hill and to Your tabernacle.

i. Here is the second step in the procession of praise. Led by the light and truth of the Lord, the psalmist comes to the tabernacle, to the tent of meeting with God. Any place God's people gather together to meet Him can become a tabernacle.

b. Your holy hill to Your tabernacle: The psalmist wants to go to the tent of meeting. He wants to because:

- He knows the Lord is there is a special way
- He knows that God's people are there
- He knows that it is a place where he can focus on the Lord

2. (Psa 43:4) When You answer my prayer, I will praise You.

Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise You,
O God, my God.

a. I will go to the altar of God: Full of faith, the psalmist anticipates God's answer to his prayer, and declares that he will sacrifice (go to the altar) when the answer comes. This wouldn't be a sacrifice of atonement for sin, but for gratitude and celebration of fellowship with God.

i. This is the third stop on the procession of praise: the altar. "The way to God is ever the way of the altar. The way to the altar is opened by the sending out of light and truth from God." (Morgan) When we follow the light and truth of the LORD, it will lead us to His altar - the cross where Jesus was given as a sacrifice for our sins.

ii. Under the New Covenant we no longer offer animal sacrifices, but we still bring the sacrifice of praise. Hebrews 13:15 tells us how: Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. Our words and songs of praise become a sweet-smelling sacrifice unto the Lord.

b. On the harp I will praise You: The psalmist will not only praise God with animal sacrifice, but also with music and song. He has reached his destination on the procession of praise - led by the light and truth of the Lord, he came to the house of God, to the altary of God, and then it culminated in praise.

3. (Psa 43:5) When You answer my prayer, I will challenge my feelings.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

a. Why are you cast down, O my soul? The psalmist has hope of God's redemption, but it hasn't come yet. In the meantime, he will not "give in" to his feelings of depression and discouragement. Instead, he will challenge them and bring them before the Lord. He says to those "cast down" and "disquieted" feelings, "Hope in God. He will come through again, because He has before."

i. We see that at the end of the psalm none of the circumstances of the psalmist have changed - only his attitude, and what a difference that makes! "Not yet has the answer come. The darkness and the mystery are still about him, but the shining way is seen; and again the soul is forbidden to despair and hope is encouraged in God." (Morgan)

b. The help of my countenance: The psalmist knew his countenance needed help - and God was just the one to bring it. Many times our face needs help, and we turn away from God.

© 2006 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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