2 November 2013

Psalm 43

“Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people; from those who are deceitful and unjust deliver me!” (v. 1)


Some commentators believe that Psalm 43 is a continuation of Psalm 42, and whilst it has similar themes, it can stand alone as a 'Prayer to God in time of trouble'.

The psalmist uses legal terminology ("vindicate", "defend my cause") (v. 1) to underline reliance on God as an advocate against those who, share have neither Godly devotion nor holy values. It is God in who the psalmist finds security, yet the threats of enemies makes any sense of the divine presence seem sorrowfully far away (verse 2).

The psalmist recognises that, in the midst of adversity, there is no other way than to ask the covenant God to faithfully keep promises. The psalmist asks God for "light", the experience of the fullness of redemption, and "truth", the expression of covenantal fidelity (v. 3). If only God would send these two expressions of love to guide the psalmist back, then restoration will be experienced.

One reason that commentators think that Psalm 43 and Psalm 42 are of a piece is that Psalm 43:4 seems to be an answer to the question posed by the psalmist at the beginning of Psalm 42: "When shall I come and behold the face of God?" (Psalm 42:2), and echoes the remembrance of the pilgrimage festivals in Psalm 42:4. The psalmist invokes the holy places of celebration not as nostalgia but as a statement of the hope of restoration to a place, both physically and metaphorically, when God is once again the focus of praise.

Psalm 43 is both a powerful prayer and an insightful reflection on the human condition, and in the final verse the psalmistreturns to the conflict between faith and doubt, to the contrast between the present and the future, and to the hope that 'I shall again praise him' (v.5). Expectant confidence in God as a firm foundation is perfectly consistent with an honest expression of our deepest and rawest emotions in prayer.

To Ponder

  • When have you wanted to shout at God "why have you cast me off" (v. 2)? What happened next?
  • Are there emotions that you would be uneasy at expressing to God in prayer? Why might this be?

Bible notes author

The Revd Tim Woolley