Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Psalms 42-44

Today’s scripture reading is Psalms 42-44; however, my devotional commentary will focus on Psalm 43.

Spiritually mature believers are well aware of the conflict that assaults the soul when our knowledge and understanding of God’s Truth and His promises seem to be contradicted by our thoughts, circumstances, heart and emotions.  Heavy heart, cast down soul, melancholy, and depression are a few of the terms men have employed to define a soul that is “weary” of life (Job 10:1) and broken in spirit (Proverbs 17:22).  Words to describe this malady of heart and soul have evolved through the centuries; however, the reality that depression is the plague of the souls of men is undeniable.  Robert Burton, the 17th century Oxford scholar and author of The Anatomy of Melancholy, wrote: If there be a hell upon earth, it is to be found in the melancholy man’s heart.”

Psalm 43 offers us an opportunity to peer within the depressed soul of a great king pleading to the LORD to rescue his heart from loneliness and his soul from the pit of despair.

Psalm 43:1 – “Judge [litigate; vindicate; deliver] me, O God [Elohim; the Godhead], and plead [defend; contend; debate; argue] my cause [contest; controversy; dispute] against an ungodly nation [heathen; Gentile]: O deliver [escape; preserve] me from the deceitful [dishonest; treacherous; deceptive] and unjust [wicked; perverse; unrighteous] man.”

David appeals to God to hear his prayer, come to his aid, and deliver him from a wicked, “unjust” enemy. David does not name his enemy; however, the tactics of his enemy are the same as those you and I face in our day. Lies, libel, slander, threats and attacks on one’s integrity are the modus operandi of the enemies of God, His Church and His people.

Psalm 43:2 – “For thou art the God of my strength [fortress; stronghold; place of safety]: why dost thou cast me off [forsake; turn away; reject]? why go [behave] I mourning because of the oppression [distress; affliction] of the enemy [adversary]?”

Rallying his heart, David states what he knows, “God is my strength”, literally, my fortress, stronghold and refuge.  However, what David believed concerning the character of God was at odds with his feelings and state of mind.  The king knew God was faithful; however, he confessed he felt forsaken, alone and overcome by his adversaries (43:2).

Psalm 43:3-4 – “O send out [stretch forth; spread] thy light [illumination] and thy truth: let them lead [guide; bring] me; let them [God’s light and truth] bring [carry] me unto thy holy [sacred; consecrated] hill [mount], and to thy tabernacles [residence; earthly place representing the presence of God]. 4 Then will I go unto the altar [place of slaughter or sacrifice] of God, unto God my exceeding [blithesome] joy [gladness]: yea, upon the harp [string instrument] will I praise [give thanks; confess; revere; worship] thee, O God my God.”

Turning his heart and thoughts away from his despair, David looked to the LORD in the same manner the captain of a ship peers through fog and darkness for the piercing beam of a lighthouse.  David appealed to God to illuminate his way and guide him with His Truth to the safe haven of God’s “holy hill” and the “tabernacles” where the saints of God gather to worship (43:3).  Though despairing, the king rallied his heart to look past his sorrows and set his heart upon the joy of once again offering sacrifices to God and singing His praises (43:4).

Having turned his focus from his enemy and troubles, David counseled his soul with two questions (43:5).

Psalm 43:5 – “Why art thou cast down [depressed; sink; brought low], O my soul [life; person; heart]? and why art thou disquieted [troubled; roar; in tumult; roar] within me? hope [wait; patient; tarry; trust] in God: for I shall yet praise [give thanks; confess; revere; worship] him, who is the health [deliverer; salvation; welfare] of my countenance [face], and my God.”

Why are you depressed?  Why are you so troubled?  David realized the error of his fear and doubts and counseled his heart, “hope in God” (43:5b)!  Resetting his spiritual compass from the delusion that is self-pity to trust and faith in the LORD, David took courage and declared, “I shall yet praise [give thanks; worship] Him [the LORD], who is the health [deliverer; salvation; welfare] of my countenance [face], and my God” (43:5c).

My friend, I do not know what fears and doubts might haunt your soul, but I challenge you to pass through this time of trouble, turning your thoughts from self-pity and trust the LORD!

1 Corinthians 10:13 – “There hath no temptation [test or trial] taken you but such as is common to man [i.e. your trouble is not unique]: but God is faithful [trustworthy; true], who will not suffer [allow] you to be tempted [tried or tested] above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape [lit. to pass through the trial], that ye may be able to bear it [endure].”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

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