Depression Leads to Praise?? Chapter 43
As we dive into Psalm 43 today, I think to myself, there could be no better Psalm for the state our world is in today. All the bickering and downright vulgarity against one another in fleshly “offense” when it is the ALTAR OF GOD that we should go to!
Some ancient Hebrew texts put Psalm 42 & 43 together as one. It’s likely they are, indeed, separate, as our Bible lists them. But they are still linked by a common ailment among MANY PEOPLE today: spiritual depression.
A Cry Unto God
Vindication is a cry David has issued before, and we see it again here. But as he always does, he takes it straight to God’s throne and leaves the result up to God. Wouldn’t it be an amazing world if we did that too? Instead of “ranting” on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or any other social media platform? Of course, we have a right to our opinions, but what do we hope to gain from taking our woes to ANYONE other than the One True God?
It’s hard to deal with someone who is deceitful and unjust. In reality, we cannot. But we serve a King who can quite the whole storm. He is the one to whom we must take our case. Because anything else makes us as much a slanderer as anyone else.
David knew that his only strength was in God, but, just as we all do, he had those same moments of, “Why am I going through this?” To us, in the flesh, the answer seems so obvious! But instead of crying out further “Why?!” he simply asks God to send His light and truth.
He knew that if he didn’t let these two be his primary guide, he would be done for. It’s really a prayer of submission. He was asking for these things, but not as much for raiment as for a leading. If God would send them, he said, he would allow them to lead him.
And just thinking about THAT is where the praise shows up!
Led By Light and Truth
There’s something about light and truth that changes everything. David says they will lead him to the holy hill and the tabernacle. Once there, he determines to proceed to the altar where his joy will be so great, he will begin to praise God with the harp.
Have you ever just been so happy you wanted to play good music? As a musician, I can totally get on board with this! It’s an amazing thing to use a talent HE gave to turn it around for HIS GLORY and HIS PRAISE! And I will do that! Maybe not every day, but I will do that!
Self-Talk That Really Matters
David was practicing “self-care” before it was even a “thing”. “Why are thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?” he said to himself. The soul, you know, is the lodging place of the mind, will, and emotions. But David didn’t stop with a question…
“hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.“
The word countenance is translated from Strong’s H6440, which means “face”. I had to laugh when I saw it because it reminded me of how facial expressions often betray our proclamations of “I’m fine,”.
God, David says, is the health of his countenance! What can give us a better expression than knowing that God’s light and truth will lead us if we let it? What better reason to praise His Name? Yes! Truly, the light and the truth of God will be my guide!
A Sheep to the Slaughter: Chapter 44
I recently watched a video where Charleton Heston read through Genesis and it was such an awesome work of art. The thing that stood out to me most, however, is when he talked about how the Bible was meant to be READ ALOUD. How it was a book of oral history that was finally recorded in the written word. But that’s not how it started.
And the first verse of chapter 44 confirms that as David speaks about how his ancestors told him and others about what God had done for them. Can you imagine the legacy we will leave our children if we leave them with audible stories of God’s goodness? Not only down through the ages, but toward us as well?
God in Past Generations
David tells about the great stories he has heard. About how the Canaanites were driven out so that the “promised land” could rest under the possession of those He had promised it to. He had heard the stories of Joshua, and of how sometimes, Israel didn’t have to do a thing except leave it to God.
To put it in perspective, David wasn’t reflecting on something his own father or grandfather said. For us, it would be like looking back and the Great Awakening, or the Revival on Azusa Street. He spoke of his spiritual heritage and all that it had taught him.
Confident Prayer Continues
David’s prayers were confident, as he ask God to do the same great works for them now that He had done all those years ago. He prayed as if he had already been told… no, rather, assured… that his answer was on the way.
What’s more, David made it plain when he prayed that he put no trust in his weaponry. No, his full confidence was in God’s ability to procure the victory, and not the other way around!
Israel in Defeat
David speaks plainly about the situation in which Israel found itself. Where they found themselves. Cast off, put to shame, sent like sheep that would be used as food. Sold into slavery and reproach, and covered in shame and confusion.
A constant tone is David’s use of “Thou hast” or “Thou Makest”… To someone who didn’t know better and only read this particular section of Psalm 44, it would look as if David were “blaming” God for their horrible current situation.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
David spends some time telling God (as if He needed to) that they had not forgotten Him, even through all of this. They had not gone against God’s covenant nor turned back away from God’s path in any way.
It was important, in David’s eyes, to mention God’s covenant. It was a way of reminding God that He said He would bless Israel if they were obedient, and curse them for disobedience (Deuteronomy 28). The assure of his prayers rested in knowing that God WOULD honor His promise. There was no doubt about that.
Lying to God?
David goes on to say, what good would it do to lie and say they hadn’t forgotten God or worshiped strange gods. Wouldn’t God know it all anyway? Doesn’t He know the secret things of the heart?
In other words, David knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that because they had done what they were supposed to do, and also had refrained from sin or the lack of repenting for it, that God would come through, as He always had. He admits he’s a little confused by what seems to be the curse of God, but still remains determined that they will go like sheep to the slaughter doing what is right, regardless of the goings-on around them.
Obedience Brings Defeat?
I was reminded, as I meditated on this earlier, that the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike (Matthew 5:45). David knew there was no reason for God to curse them, yet they still found themselves as helpless as sheep going to slaughter.
The term, in verse 22, “for thy sake” is important to show that their sufferings was a result of their faithfulness to God. He doesn’t say it outright, but he states the idea which, in those days, was unheard of. That perhaps, the suffering of the righteous isn’t punishment, but simply the price we pay for remaining loyal to God in a world that IS AT WAR WITH God.
Finishing with a Prayer for Help
David was close enough to God that he could speak to Him like a friend. When he asked why He slept and then asked him not to cast them off, he wasn’t being hateful. He was being completely honest.
We might chide David for speaking as if God were asleep, but then we move over to the New Testament and find Jesus asleep in the boat. And it’s funny how similar the disciples sounded when they said, “Don’t you care that we’re going to die here?”
Even though David admits he and his company are crushed, the last verse reminds us where his faith was:
Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies’ sake.Psalm 44:26
Haven’t we all been in a place like this? Where we feel like God has just abandoned us? Well, I know I have! And it’s no fun! I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t always pray like this, either. Sometimes, I would just pray that selfish prayer… “Why aren’t you helping me, God?!”
Lord Jesus, I repent of every time I’ve failed to see the bigger picture. I thank You for remaining faithful, even when I wasn’t! I praise Your Name, not because of what I’ve received, but because You are worthy of ALL THE PRAISE! Keep Your hand on us, Jesus. Keep the boat safe and Your people safe, and we will never fail to give You the glory and honor that is ALWAYS due Your Name! In Jesus’ Name, I pray now, Amen.