Focal Passage: Psalm 42:1-43:5
This one word seems to express that walled-up flood of turbulent emotions and piercing heartaches that opens up the worshipper to Book Two of the Psalter. This worshipper has been away from Jerusalem, the “wadi (spring of water in the parched desert)” of spiritual refreshment and has felt the estrangement deep within his/her very soul. “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” Like a gaping hole begging to be filled, the traveler seeks respite even in fragile memories of another day, a holy day of celebration and processions. But now, oh the drought … the depths!
The psalmist asks, “Why are you so cut down, O my soul, and why do you groan tumultuously deep within me?” The drought … the depths! Is there no hope? “Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” Vulnerable because of such thirst for God, he/she experiences the mockery and taunts of onlookers and the barrenness of the landscape. Is there really no hope?
Then in quiet refrain the worshipper responds “Hope in God: for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.”
With that comes the realization that though in danger of being permanently engulfed by the boiling, seething turmoil of wave upon wave of deep evil, his/her footing will not slip nor faith falter (even if forgotten by God (v. 9). Instead, hope in God … my salvation and my God. Why? “Because by day He commands His steadfast love and at night His song is with me…”
Psalm 42 defiantly asks twice (v. 5, 11) about the despair and tumult of apparent divine abandonment (v. 9) and turns to joyous memories of a better time. Now in Psalm 43 the question is affirmed with grateful confidence as the psalmist recognizes the situation and calls upon his God to send out His light and truth. “Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause … Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me … to your holy hill and to your dwelling.” Instead of “why have you forgotten me?” the writer asks, “why have I forgotten you?”— He/she declares, “For you are the God in whom I take refuge.” There is hope! There is hope in spite of possible silence or even perceived rejection.
George Knight writes, “Hope is knowing that God is there and so hope means waiting for God. But hope arouses us to praise the God we are waiting for when we seem to have lost him from sight. Moreover, just doing so means putting out your hand into the darkness and finding it gripped by Another.”
As the hymnist has written,
“I’m overshadowed by His mighty love.
Love eternal, changeless pure.
Overshadowed by His mighty love
Rest is mine, serene, secure.”