July 29, 2016 • Life for Leaders
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
If Psalm 43 seems strangely familiar, that’s because it is the ending of the psalm we know as Psalm 42. This is clear from the themes as well as the exact echo of 42:11 in 43:5. Both verses read: “Why, my soul are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
Biblical hope doesn’t deny the pain of the present. Nor is it wishful thinking. Rather, true hope is “in God,” in the one who is fully and finally reliable.
In Psalm 43, the writer continues his desperate cry for help even as he wonders why God has tossed him aside (43:2). He anticipates going to the Temple in Jerusalem. At the altar of God he will be refreshed by God’s presence (43:3-4). The psalm ends by repeating the refrain from Psalm 42:11, as I noted in the previous paragraph.
This NIV translation “Put your hope in God” rightly renders the Hebrew imperative, meaning, “Hope!” (yachal in the Hiphil). So, this verse allows us to listen in as the psalmist talks to himself (literally, his soul). He begins: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” But then he coaches himself to redirect his thoughts and emotions: “Hope in God!” In this hope, he looks forward to the time when he will once again praise God his Savior.
Psalm 43:5 dramatizes the inner dialogue of faith. Discouragement and sadness are a normal part of our relationship with God. When we feel such emotions, we would do well to imitate the psalmist, coaching ourselves to put our hope in God. Biblical hope doesn’t deny the pain of the present. Nor is it wishful thinking. Rather, true hope is “in God,” in the one who is fully and finally reliable.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Have you ever had an inner dialogue like that of Psalm 43:5? When? Why?
Are you struggling to hope in God right now? Will you ask the Lord to help you hope in him?
What helps you to hope in God?
Gracious God, first of all, I thank you for the honesty and realism of this psalm. There are times in my relationship with you when I feel discouraged and downhearted. Thus I can relate to what the psalmist is feeling here and I’m grateful for this connection.
Help me, dear Lord, to hope in you. When circumstances feel overwhelming, when I wonder how things will turn out, may I put my full confidence in you and you alone. May I trust you with the future, knowing that you are eminently and uniquely trustworthy, and that you want what is best for me.
All praise be to you, O Lord, because you are my Hope, my Savior, and my God. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: A Prayer of Thanksgiving for Work.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.