Most scholars believe that Psalm 43 belongs with Psalm 42. In The Literary Study Bible ESV, editors Ryken and Ryken write: “The case is overwhelming that these two poems actually constitute a single worship psalm” (p. 792). They point out how the combined psalms express the longing of an exile to return to worship God in his own land.
Can we identify with this exile? Although you (like me) probably never were banished or taken by force from your own country, we’re far from our real home. If we’re Christians, our home is in heaven.
The Bible tells us that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
While we climb the mountains and valleys of this world, anticipating that great and final homecoming, we suffer in many ways. Sometimes others manipulate or oppress so severely that we feel God has rejected us (Psalm 43:1 & 2, ESV):
Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?
Despite feeling rejected by God, the psalmist still puts his trust in him. He is the One in whom we take refuge. He is the One whose guidance we seek (verse 3, ESV):
Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!
While we live far from home, we can ask God to split this world’s darkness with his light and to shatter deceitful lies with his truth. We can beg for his guiding light and trustworthy truth to bring us to God, our dwelling place. Led by God’s light and truth, we can truly worship (verse 4, ESV):
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.
We can worship and praise God with joy. We can call our downcast soul to task (verse 5, ESV):
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.
Our lives are filled with physical and emotional turmoil. Why should that surprise us? Jesus warned, “In this world you will have tribulation,” but he didn’t end there. He added, “Take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).