Lloyd Cain, Halifax, N.S.
The forty-third Psalm is a little song of only five verses and is really an appendix to the forty-second Psalm. This is witnessed by the fact that right here in the middle of the maschil psalms, there stands this one, without title and which continues the theme of the previous one, "Why art thou cast down, 0 my soul? Hope thou in God for I shall yet praise Him."
Psalm 42 could be entitled in our terminology, "There is light at the end of the tunnel." In verses 1-4, we see The Thirsting of the Troubled Soul. In that section, he is lamenting the reality that he cannot get into the presence of God and compared himself to the hart panting after the water brooks. There has been a prolonged drought in his soul. There is his present distress as witnessed by the trials, the tears and the taunts. There is the promised delight as he asks, "When shall I come and appear before God?" He remembers better times and as he contemplates these days, he thinks of the pleasures, the praises and the people with whom he had gone to keep holy day.
In the second section, (vv. 5-7), he deals with The Trials of the Tested Soul. From the despair contained in the cry, "Why art thou cast down, 0 my soul," he proceeds to the disquietness, the turmoil within his soul and the distance he feels. He feels the depths as he says, "all Thy breakers and billows have gone over me." He sees himself as one standing alone in the midst of a troubled sea and wondering if the next wave will be the end of him.
As so often happens in the psalms, he closes with The Triumphs of the Trusting Soul (8- 11). Jehovah, the covenant keeping God will command his loving-kindness in the morning. El, the God of creation, is his Rock. The God of the promises and the God of power will be the cause of his rejoicing.
As we meditate upon Psalm 43, the appendix to the previous one, we see three sections as follows: 1-2, 3-4 and verse five. We could entitle the first section, Defend Me from the Adversary. He cries out for a solicitor in the words "...plead my cause against an ungodly nation. Deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man." He cries for strength in the words "Thou art the God of my strength." Because of the oppression of the enemy that he feels so keenly, he speaks of his need of solace. To whom can he turn? Who can meet the great need of his soul?
With what ease we can relate to his plaintive cry! How often we also feel the sorrow of the Psalmist and of the despair of the disciples when they cried "Carest Thou not that we perish?" (Mark 4:2). "Why dost thou cast me off?" becomes our cry as well.
The second part of the psalm could be called Direct me to the Altar. Let us note the progression as he goes to the holy hill and from there to "Thy tabernacles" and thence to the altar of God for there he will find the God whom he calls God, the joy of my rejoicing." How often in the trials which God has designed to bring us closer to Him, we actually fail to come to the altar. The psalmist knows that when he reaches the altar, he will find a joy that does not come from circumstances and therefore should not be affected by circumstances. Paul had by experience learned this lesson which most of us apparently miss, and was able to write, "I have learned in whatsoever state I am to be content." The "therewith" must be omitted for Pauls circumstances did not affect his contentment because they were not the source of the contentment. How could he have reached such a point in his spiritual growth? How could he still say "I count not myself to have apprehended..." He still had room to grow.
In the third section, which we would like to entitle, Deliver me from my Absurd Thinking, he asks again, "why are thou cast down, O my soul?" In our language, we would perhaps say "Let me get to the bottom of my thinking." Is it my foes? (1 John 4:4). Is it my friends? (Prov. 18:24). Is it family? (Psa. 27;10). Is it the fellowship of which I am a part? (3 John). Is it finances? (Gen. 15:1). Is it the frailty of my body? (Psa. 39:4; 103:14). Can any of these things separate me from the love of Christ? God is cognizant! God cares. God is capable. God is in control and the previously troubled but now restored could write, "I shall yet praise Him." "Yet" is a very positive word. It is the assurance that God is still alive. Why should the psalmist live as if God was no more? Let us hurry to the Throne of Grace and obtain mercy and grace for seasonable succor.