Psalm 42 & 43

Intro: Psalms 42 & 43 teach us about the importance of the presence of the Lord in our lives. There are those who will doubt his presence, and mock us for our beliefs. Our own souls will even begin to doubt, but in these times we must remind ourselves of the goodness of the Lord, and sweetness of his presence.

To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.

1 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.

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 6 and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God, my rock:
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my bones,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”

11 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.

43:1 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?

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.

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.

Main Point: Psalm 42 & 43 are one psalm in many manuscripts, and it appears to me that is probably correct given the shared refrain, common themes among the two psalms, and Psalm 43’s lack of a title or superscript. I will for my purposes then treat them as one psalm.

The psalms have 3 clear divisions that are ended by a shared refrain that starts with “why are cast down, o my soul”.

The psalmist starts by speaking of his need and desire for God’s presence (1,2). In verse 3 scoffers come and taunt the psalmist for his faith. We see in verse 4 and 5  his response to this attack. He reminds himself of his times of worship at the Lord’s holy mountain, and he speaks to his own soul, reminding it of how the Lord is his salvation. He also points himself to a future day when He will again be in the presence of the Lord.

In verses 6-8, we see it is his own soul this time that is the culprit. Again He remembers. He remembers the Lord even though he is far from the Lord’s sanctuary. He reminds himself of the Lord’s love for him both day and night.

In verse 9 we again see the Psalmist dealing with the sorrows of this world. He is bold enough to ask the Lord why it appears that he has been forgotten by the Lord. While his soul still doubts the Lord, the enemy comes to mock him again(v10). He responds again by asking his soul to remember the Lord, and the promise of worshipping the Lord in His presence(11).

Psalm 43 moves from the psalmist remembrance of the Lord’s past faithfulness, to asking for the Lord’s deliverance now (1-3). The psalmist promises joyous praises to God upon his deliverance(v4).  In verse 5, we see the psalmist once again steels himself to face the times between now and his deliverance.

So what does the Psalmist teach us? It teaches us the preciousness of the Lord’s special presence. It teaches us that there will be those who will mock us for our faith, and for holding the Lord dear. It teaches us that even our own souls will doubt. But it gives us tools to fight these times. It teaches us to remember the past times of God’s blessing and faithfulness, and to look forward to the future day when we will praise Him face to face.

Interesting Points: This psalm has a lot to teach us about the desiring the special presence of the Lord. In the psalmist day, The Lord had restricted his special presence, in a sense, to the tabernacle or temple. So for him to experience nearness to God, he had to draw near physically. The New Testament turns this idea on its head. The Lord’s special presence now has spread out through out the earth. Whereever the church is gathered there Jesus is(Matthew 18:20), and the believer himself has now become the temple that the Holy Spirit inhabits (1 Cor 6:19). So in the New Testament all space is now Holy, and space is no longer a limiting factor for us to experience the presence of God.

So if this is the case why do so few of us experience it? I think there are a few things here, 1) even in the New Testament there are special out pourings of God’s spririt and presence (just read through the book of Acts) so I don’t expect it to be an everyday thing 2) Even with the coming of the Holy Spirit we are to look forward to a day when the dwelling of God is with Man in a new heavens and a new earth. So even the tastes that we get here aren’t the full meal.  And 3) I know from my own life I don’t seek it or desire it as I should. Because of this I go without.  I am good with my 5 minute prayers, and little bit of time reading the Bible. How often though do I actually seek the presence of God? Not just that he hear my prayers, but that I actually come into his presence? I think there is a big difference. Could you imagine if we talked to our spouses like the way we pray? Would we really just give them a list of things that we needed done without even as much looking at them? That is not experiencing our spouse’s presence, and it isn’t experiencing God’s either.

This Psalmist had experienced God’s presence in a powerful way, and it left him wanting more. So much more that he felt that without it he would perish. I wonder if we don’t think this way because we have never experienced God in this way?

So how do we experience more of the presence of God? I think it is as simple as acknowledging the truth. He is there with you in your prayers. He is not removed some where, pie in the sky. He is there with you. He is in the room with you. He is surrounding you. If you were a fish, He would be the water. But we forget that. We forget He is always with us, and we fail to acknowledge His presence. This leads us to feeling like we are just praying up into thin air. So next time you begin to do your devotions stop, and let your imagination go wild all that it means for God to right there with you. You will be amazed with what will happen!

I, like the Psalmist, have experienced the Lord’s presence in a powerful way a few times in my life. And I desire to experience it more, but I must learn the lesson that the psalmist is teaching. In the rough spots I have to remember the sweetness of the Lord, and let that lead me to hope. Hope that I will experience His presence again in this life, and Hope that I will experience the fullness of His presence in the life to come.


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