Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.
The forty-second and forty-third Psalms give us an insight into the very heart of the Psalmist. David there appears as the man whose affections were set upon God, and who in all the changes, and chances, and dangers of a chequered life looked upward, aspired for closer communion with God; and it is for this that he is our teacher and our example.
I. We need to have this teaching and this example in this life of weary toil. We need to have our spirits lifted up, not to be always earthward bound, but raised, elevated, borne up to the contemplation of higher things, higher and also more lasting. That is one great corrective of worldliness, one great protection for our soul, amid the temptations, pursuits, business, and pleasures of this present world—to look upward.
II. Observe how entirely Christian the prayer is, for what is it we here ask of God? We ask for His light and for His truth. What is this but to ask for Christ to dwell in our hearts? When we pray for God's light and God's truth to lead us, we pray that Jesus Christ may dwell in us, and work in us, and rule in us, to the sanctifying and saving of our soul.
III. The dwelling of God, where is it? In the highest heaven. Even those words are inadequate to convey a just idea of His habitation. "Behold, the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him." God is present in all places, at all times, but is present according to His true promise wheresoever two or three are gathered together in His name.
R. D. B. Rawnsley, Village Sermons, 3rd series, p. 158.
Reference: Psalm 43:3, Psalm 43:4.—J. M. Neale, Sermons on Passages of the Psalms, pp. 108, 120.
Psalm 43:4I. The text pronounces one good word—joy. "The joy of the Lord is strength." The cheerful spirit is the healthful and the dutiful spirit. I do not mean the spirit of animal jollity, nor the merriment of indifference, but that subdued, cheerful spirit which fronts its duties.
II. He pronounces with greater emphasis the word "God." For God alone is exceeding joy. Sensuality cloys, but never satisfies; ambition is disturbed and dissatisfied; refined intelligence and taste leave something unknown, and cloud joy by debate and doubt. "All things are full of labour." God alone is surpassing joy. (1) Joy undisturbed by any fear of coming to an end, for that is the spectre at the feast—the end. (2) If calamity and reproach blast our good name with men, and we are exposed to shame and ignominy, God is exceeding joy; He is not imposed upon by misrepresentation; we have His approbation.
III. The text leads to an important discrimination between thinking about God and enjoying Him. Some have God only in idea, in fancy, in opinion; some have God only in the perception of law; but the living God is essential life, and being essential life, is essential joy.
IV. Here breaks in the appropriating power for which the Psalms are so remarkable. There is a spreading out of the hands to the Infinite—"O God." There is a closing of the hands upon the heart—"my God." There is no joy unless God is appropriated.
V. Exceeding joy. Yet once more. This is the quality of it. This can be said of no other joy; all other beauties have their boundaries; all other glories have their glooms. Watch then your best joys, that they do not leave you, treasure your joys, and strive for the "meetness of the inheritance of the saints in light;" part with all that you have for that pearl and that field.
E. Paxton Hood, Dark Sayings on a Harp, p. 101.
References: Psalm 43:4.—J. P. Gledstone, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvi., p. 364; H. Scott Holland, Logic and Life, p. 99. Psalm 43:5.—H. P. Liddon, Old Testament Outlines, p. 111. Psalm 43:1-3.—R. D. B. Rawnsley, Sermons in Country Churches, 2nd series, p. 69. Psalm 44:1.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. v., No. 263; R. W. Dale, Evangelical Revival, p. 2; H. P. Liddon, Christian World Pulpit, vol. vi., p. 113, and Old Testament Outlines, p. 113; J. W. Burgon, Ninety-one Short Sermons, No. 90; Parker, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxiii., p. 216, and Fountain, June 16th, 1881. Psalm 45:1, Psalm 45:2.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xi., p. 331.
For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.
Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.