Psalm 43

Psalms 43 Devotions
by Pastor Mark Hudson


          As you may know the Psalms are divided up into 5 sections. Section I is 1-41; Section II is 42-72; Section III is 73-89; Section IV is 90-106; concluding is Section V 107-150.  Psalm 43 is the second Psalm in the second section. This is clearly a continuation of Ps 42.  A casual reader sees repeating phrases in 43 first found in 42.  Compare 42:5, 11 with 43:5.  See also 42:9 and 43:2.  Both Psalms are struggling with mockers.  See 42:3, 10 and 43:1.  Both Psalms question God in Psalm 42:9 which is similar to Ps. 43:2.

          In Ps. 42, the Psalmist remembers his times of worship that was sweet to him while in 43:3-4, the author is full of praise to God.  His conclusion in verse 5 is a repetition of 42:5 and v. 11.  This is what we need to tell ourselves when we get discouraged, “Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

          You might think that since the Bible has preserved words of doubt and discouragement of God’s own people Christians could risk being open about their times of discouragement.  But, alas, you would be wrong.  Most believers do not want to admit they sometimes get discouraged, depressed, and feel like there is no hope.  But we should have these open, frank, discussions to God and others.  So maybe it is time to take a fresh look at these words of Scripture. 

Notice the honest, raw and unfettered descriptions of his condition: v. 3,”My tears have been my food day and night . . .” v. 4 and “I pour out my soul” v. 5 “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” v. 9, “I say to God . . . Why have you forgotten me?  Why do I go mourning . . .” and v. 10, “As with a deadly wound in my bones” and 43:2 “Why have you rejected me?”  His honesty is compelling and true to his feelings.  If you asked him, “Can God forget you?”  The author would say, “Well, it sure feels like He has.  I am hurting and putting my feelings into words.”

That is why listening to a hurting person is so important.  Have you ever listened without trying to tell a hurting person something?  People need to express themselves because there is something cathartic (cleansing) in naming hurt.  It may help others to write their thoughts down or even write poetry or compose a song.  This is exactly what the Psalmist does.  Words help us frame our problem and naming our hurt accurately and describing our hurt helps.  Now, we can go too far in this direction which is why the two Psalms together draw us closer to God.

I find it unusual yet refreshing that the Bible records the anger, frustration, and disappointment believers feel toward God.  Maybe you don’t agree with me but that is what I expect initially from those who lose a child, suffer a divorce, fight cancer, or lose retirement money.  Initially.  But after those feelings are felt (but are not left to fester), we bring it all to God and find comfort.

I have not gone through what some of you have endured.  You have not endured what many Christians around the world suffer for their faith.  Why they do and we don’t is, for the time being, unknowable.  But we have the Bible to remind us that mourning, complaining, as well as anger, is common for Christians.  Yet, we don’t stay there. 

The Psalmist speaks to himself and directs his heart and mind to keep believing in spite of his discouragement and despair.  That is why v. 4 is important, “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.”  The Psalmist argues with God yet he argues as a believer.  In 43:2, “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?”  He does not reject God.  Rather, he asks why is God rejecting me?    

To conclude: if you are living your life in the minor key with sadness, loss, and grief, read the Bible through the eyes of grief.  Realize you are in good company.  Christians experience anguish, turmoil and loss. Every story does not end like Joseph’s story in Genesis.  So in your pain, find God there and praise Him through your tears.