Today, Tuesday April 4
A Transformed Radiant Countenance
“Vindicate me, O God, And plead my cause against an ungodly nation; Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! For You are the God of my strength; Why do You cast me off? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your tabernacle. Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God. Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”
You might notice in your Bible that Psalm 43 has no title over it. We believe that this is because Psalm 43 is a continuation of Psalm 42. Originally, they were one Psalm but the editors who compiled the Psalms, for whatever reason, divided them into two chapters. When you read them together it is obvious that they definitely go together with the same theme of the writer in exile longing to go back to worship in Jerusalem at the altar of God in the tabernacle.
The writer is in a state of despair and you notice that he goes through three stages in finding relief and victory over his distress. He first expresses his thirst for God, for the living God, just like in a time of drought a deer would pant for water (Psalm 42:1-2). Next, he remembers that God is Jehovah and that no matter how dark it might seem, He will “command His lovingkindness in the daytime and give him a song in the night.” (Ps. 42:8).
Now in Psalm 43, the writer knows that he can trust God to bring back his strength (Ps. 43:2), and the joy of worship (Ps. 43:4) even in this time of exile. My friend, you will never be disappointed when you decide to make the greatest desire and longing of your heart to be fellowship and worship with the LORD. Seeking the LORD with all your heart will take your mind off all the troubles and trials that surround you and release you to remember how great and awesome your God is. Then your faith will be renewed and strengthened, and you will put your trust in Him!
In Psalm 43, the landscape changes a third time as the dawn announces the morning and reminds the psalmist of God's light and truth (v. 3). The Lord had led Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, and so His light and truth (faithfulness) would bring him back to Jerusalem. The innocent exile would be vindicated before his accusers and be rescued from an ungodly nation. His strength was in the Lord alone, the Rock of his salvation (42:9), and soon his despair would be replaced by joy. As they trust in the Lord, God's people must remember that His goodness and mercy follow them (23:6), and His light and truth lead them (Ps. 43:3; see 27:1; 26:3; 30:9; 40:10). God's "holy hill" is Mt. Zion, where God's sanctuary was located, the dwelling place of God.
But the writer wasn't exulting simply in freedom from his enemies and a return to his native home, but in the privilege of visiting God's altar, offering his sacrifices, and praising the Lord. He has made great progress since he watched the deer seeking for water. The "living God" (42:2) became "the God of my life" (42:8), and now He is "God my exceeding joy... God, my God” (43:4). His focus is no longer on himself, his disappointments, or his circumstances, but on the Lord his God, and that makes all the difference. The refrain in 43:5 must not be read with the same dejected voice as 42:5 and 11, for faith in Jehovah has changed everything.
These two chapters end again with this repeated phrase but with a different emphasis. "Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance, and my God." The word "help" can be translated "health." When by faith we see the face of God smiling upon us (Num. 6:22-27), our own countenance brightens up and becomes spiritually healthy. We know God is for us, that God will set us free and guide us to His holy city, where we shall worship Him and sing His praises. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5).
Our transformed, radiant countenance will reflect to the dark world around us the glorious presence of the Lord in our lives!