Psalms of Comfort, Part 6 - Psalm 42-43
April 23, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
Throughout the centuries, followers of God and Christ have looked to the Psalms for comfort and guidance in the midst of trials. Some Psalms have come to be dearly loved and memorized. These Psalms direct our attention to the rock-solid character of God and his promises. Each week we’ll reflect on one of these Psalms, training our hearts to trust in the Lord more and more.
Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5
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.
Do you ever talk to yourself? Some say this may be a sign of going crazy, right? In Psalm 42 & 43, however, we have an example of God-honoring self-talk, or, as some have called it, preaching to self. The psalmist asks himself, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” It’s almost like he steps away from his body and takes an outsider’s perspective, “Why are you discouraged and in despair?” He then turns to preaching to himself, “Hope in God!”
What the psalmist demonstrates is that we have the responsibility to draw comfort and strength from the Lord. All the promises of comfort and support and relief we have discovered in these Psalms of Comfort are as immovable as the God behind the comfort. But we will never enjoy the comfort promised in God unless we take the initiative to cling to those promises. We will find ourselves in a dry and desperate situation, “As a deer pants… My soul thirsts for God…,” and stuck there if we do not look to and hope in God.
Let’s allow this psalmist to preach to us about the path to refuge in God.
- Remember God’s Goodness and Faithfulness. The foundation for hope for the future is God’s faithfulness in the past. The psalmist “remembers” God’s goodness (v. 4) and faithfulness (v. 6-8) in the past. This assures him that God will still be good and faithful in the future. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The path to comfort in God starts with remembering his faithfulness in your life. Who has loved you while you rebelled? Who gave his only Son on your behalf? Who has removed your sin as far as the east is from the west? This is the same God who is your shepherd right now, in whatever valley you find yourself. Remember his goodness and faithfulness.
- Lament the Ugliness of Sin. The psalmist opens up about what is discouraging him. He turns his concern into a complaint to God, “Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (42:9, 43:2). The “enemy” in these lament psalms is anyone or anything that threatens my well-being in covenant relationship with God. This complaint before God does not spring out of discontentment, but rather out of a desire for the glory of God. God’s glory is wrapped up in his covenantal faithfulness. The psalmist appeals to God on the basis of this faithfulness, “Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against ungodly people” (43:1). Lament is important for believers because it helps clarify what is most important in life. And God is pleased with lament because it is an act of faith; lament involves the growing distaste for that which dishonors God and a longing to rest in God alone. Lament the ugliness of sin and you will find God’s sweet comfort.
- Cry Out for Help. The complaint turns into a cry for help. “Send our your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!” (43:3). A cry for help acknowledges our neediness and God’s sufficiency. God gives grace to the humble, but opposes the proud (James 4:6). If we never humble ourselves and ask for help, we will never find the comfort God provides.
- Hope in God. Hope is the confidence that there is good in the future. This is what the psalmist calls himself to. It is not an empty hope, for it is rooted in the surety of God himself. The darkness of today can never drown out the light God provides in the morning. “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Ps. 30:5).
So, go ahead, talk to yourself. Preach to yourself. Remind yourself of God’s goodness and faithfulness. Awaken hope in your soul.