1 Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.
2 For Thou art the God of my strength: why dost Thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
3 O send out Thy light and Thy truth: let them lead me: let them bring me unto Thy holy hill, and to Thy tabernacles.
4 Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.
5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
In the midst of oppression from God’s enemies, David longs to be with God and ever praising Him.
Oppressed. It is hard to see clearly when we are surrounded by enemies, both spiritual and physical.
Verses 1–3. A Prayer. This psalm begins as a prayer to God. Often it seems that those who hate God abuse those who love Him, and God is not doing anything about it. In this prayer, the Psalmist pleads for God’s intervention. He acknowledges that his strength comes from God, but where is He when he needs Him? “Why have You cast me off?” he asks. Appealing to God in this way is not disrespectful. It is, however, based in a relationship. If God is our Father and our Savior, then would He not desire to help the ones He loves in the day of trouble?
David prays for clarity. When people are attacking you, it is usually difficult to know what to do. At such times it is easy to lose sight of God and His truth, and give way to self-centered pride and anger. Therefore, David prays that God would send His truth and bring him back to the worship of his God. The fog begins to lift and we begin to see clearly again only when we are back in the worship of God and back in His Word.
Verses 4–5. A Confession. David again anticipates worshiping God in His temple, or tabernacle. He may have been separated from the worship of God for a time. In the context of this psalm, this absence from worship may have been precipitated by war or the insurrection of Absalom. Whatever the case, David calls the worship of God his “exceeding joy.” In the worship of God there is joy, and delightful fulfillment!
The last verse is a repetition of the same phrase used in Psalm 42 as David admonishes his own soul to hope in God.1 Indeed, the comfort of every believer is that he will make it back to the congregation of the saints to worship God and sing His praises. Even if we die on the way to church, we will make it to the heavenly congregation, and there we will find our greatest need fulfilled eternally.
When we are surrounded by enemies and are oppressed and discouraged, the best thing to do is to turn to God in prayer. Get in the car, drive to the meeting place of the saints, and start singing the praises of God. Unfortunately, in many cases, those afflicted with depression turn to eating or some form of entertainment (such as watching movies). But this solace is empty and often only makes our problems worse. Let us turn to God in prayer and worship when things are going badly for us.
The best and safest way to address the attacks of our enemies is to worship God. This keeps our priorities in life straight. For the Christian, God is more important to him than his own well–being, the acceptance of others, or even life itself.
References to music and musical instruments (such as the harp) are common in the psalms. It is a worthy endeavor to bring beautiful music into worship, for “our God greatly delights in such praise!” Therefore, any efforts to hone our musical skills for the worship of God are of great importance and value to the church of Christ.
1. Whom do you think this psalm could really help?
2. Give examples of two Deliverance psalms.
3. How do we see clearly when we are under great oppression?
4. What are the similarities between Psalm 42 and 43?
5. What should you do when people attack you?
1. Why would it be dangerous to lose clarity in your thoughts in the midst of spiritual or physical battle?
2. Do you find the worship of God in the church an exceeding joy?
3. What sorts of things do you do when things are going badly for you? Do you turn to food and entertainment first, or do you turn to God?