Psalm 42 TALK: Put your Hope in God

(All bible quotes from The Holy Bible, New International Version)

PSALM 42 TALK

PUT YOUR HOPE IN GOD

(MY HOPE IS BUILT ON NOTHING LESS THAN JESUS BLOOD AND RIGHTOUSNESS)

 INTRODUCTION

 Many years ago I was criticized by my minister for a sermon I preached on the theme of Christian Hope. He said that the word hope was so devalued today that I should have used another word. He was talking about of course the colloquial expression of hope when a person says something like, “I hope something will happen” meaning they are not sure of something but trust that it might be true or will happen. I of course pointed out that the bible was full of the word “hope” but acknowledged that it’s meaning was that we are trusting in something sure and concrete that is true and will happen.

I believe Psalm 42 and Psalm 43 is a song with three verses and three choruses and that the chorus, which is the central theme or idea of the song, is the message of hope. You find this repeated chorus or refrain in 42: 5, 42: 11 and 43: 5. It seems logical to assume that both Psalm 42 and 43 were in fact once one Psalm but a long time ago the editors of the Psalms saw fit to separate them into two distinct Psalms.

The inscription at the top of Psalm 42 reads,

“For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah”

 For some reason a lot of commentators over the years have said that this was actually a Psalm of David given to his appointed Tabernacle and later Temple chief singers and musicians called “The sons of Korah” but I reject this idea simply because the second book of Psalms has another collection of Psalms attributed to David Psalms 51 – 70 (except for Psalm 69) and Psalm 42 is a obvious separate collection ( 42 – 49) attributed to The Sons of Korah who also have a collection of Psalms in the third book as well (84 – 88).

Who were these “Sons of Korah”?

I will have much more to say about them in studies to come but as I have already said they were Levi musicians and singers for the Tabernacle worship services appointed by David and were also active during the time of King Solomon in his new Temple (2 Chronicles 5: 12). This family group of singers and musicians continue to get a mention right up to the time of Ezra (Ezra 3: 10). There seems to be three of them that stand out individually, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan (1 Chronicles 15: 17 – 18) who all have Psalms individually attributed to them in Books 2 and 3. Their family history is also very interesting and important to understanding some of the things they wrote into their Psalms. Basically they were descendants of the infamous Levite named Korah who lived and died during the time of Moses when the Israelites wandered in the wilderness. Korah led a revolt against the leadership of Moses and Aaron recorded in Numbers 16. It seems Korah and his co- conspirators were not content with their doorkeepers and assistants to the Priests duties. They paid dearly for their treachery with their lives when God made the earth swallow them up (Numbers 16: 23 – 34). However Numbers 26: 11 records that the line of Korah did not die out and it is from this line that the “Sons of Korah” come from in David’s time. Dr Carla Waterman writes about how there sordid family history would have influenced their compositions:

“With this specific personal history in view, it would come as no surprise that the songs of the Sons of Korah are some of the most poignantly powerful in the Psalter. Wearing the name of one’s shame and redemption is a powerful primer for prayer”.

The more difficult question for me was whether or not this Psalm was written at the time of the rebellion of Absalom when David and his family and close followers fled Jerusalem to escape death at the hands of Absalom and his followers. The sons of Korah probably had to flee with David as they were part of his loyal followers having been set up as Tabernacle musicians and singers (see 1 Chronicles 6: 31 – 33). Also there are many references in the Psalm to being exiled from the place of the sanctuary or from Jerusalem. The key verse is verse 6 that mentions “the land of Jordon, the heights of Hermon – from Mount Mizar”. Leupold and others argue that this is a description of the place David eventually got to when on the run from Absalom a place called Mahanaim other side of the Jordan mentioned in 2 Samual 17: 24. I quote from the Pulpit Commentary on Psalm 42 verse 6.

“And of the Hormonites: rather, and of the Hermons. This expression is not elsewhere used, and can only be explained conjecturally. It probably means the mountain ranges which, starting from Hermon in the north, extend in a southerly direction down the entire Trans – Jordanic territory”.

 Unfortunately Mount Mizar or better translated “Hill Mizar” is unknown but probably is where David camped when on the other side of the Jordon in Mahanain which some scholars believe was on the Jabbok river (a tributary of the Jordan river)  which has water falls in its path to the Jordan river.

So I believe one of the sons of Korah who fled with David penned this Psalm when he found himself cut off from the place he loved namely The Tabernacle in Jerusalem with little chance of returning since Absalom had taken over. He only found comfort in his sure hope in God. It has the general title, “Sons of Korah because he collaborated with other members of his musical ensemble to write this Psalm.

We will learn from our study of this Psalm that we to have a sure hope to look to at all times but particularly in times of difficulty and despair and this hope is I think wonderfully expressed in the 19th century hymn “The Solid Rock” by Edward Mote which reads,

“My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus blood and righteousness

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

But wholly lean on Jesus name.

I will refer to other verses of this great hymn throughout this study.

I have divided this Psalm into the four parts of how I see the original song composed,

1.     FACING FEELINGS OF HOPELESSNES (1 – 4)

2.     HOPE IN GOD IS THE ANSWER (5)

3.     DEALING WITH A HOPELESS SITUATION (6 – 10)

4.     HOPE IN GOD IS THE ANSWER (11)

 We will study the third verse and final chorus of this song separately when we look at Psalm 43.

1.     FACING FEELINGS OF HOPELESSNESS (1 – 4)

 As this Psalm is attributed to “The Son’s of Korah” and not one of the key three Sons of Korah we can surmise that this Psalm was a collaborative composition and therefore a shared experience of this group of singers and musicians. In Jerusalem they had enjoyed the privilege of leading the music in the worship of God and were now cut off from this and were camped out in the wilderness with King David and hundreds of other loyal family members, friends and supporters. How they felt is beautifully poetically expressed with the words,

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God”.

 But this verse is not talking about the physical separation from Jerusalem and it’s Tabernacle there but the inner pain of separation from God. Although the circumstances of the physical separation has cause the deep painful feelings of the inner separation. Sometimes in life we face times of difficulties and these often cause us to challenge our hope and faith in God.

The extent of the pain the writer is describing is immense it is liked to a wild animal desperately thirsting for water. This would have been a very easily understood image in the barren and dry land of ancient Israel that suffered often from times of drought. The writer then is expressing his great need to feel close to God again as he obviously felt when he was in Jerusalem. To put it another way he was really out of his comfort zone and despite the discomfort of sleeping out in the cold nights of the Jordan valley and the unpredictable nature of his future at the hands of Absalom and his men his greatest need was to feel close to God again. Spurgeon puts it so well when he writes,

“But the enjoyment of communion with God was an urgent need of his soul, he viewed it not merely as the sweetest of all luxuries, but as an absolute necessity, like water to a stag”.

 Jesus spoke of how he alone can quench this great thirst of ours when speaking to the Samaritan women at the well in John 4: 13,

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

 Jesus is speaking here about the spiritual nourishment he gives us through the Holy Spirit he gives us when we come to him in repentance and faith.

The writer spells out what his feelings of spiritual thirst was like when he was separated from Jerusalem by the evil forces of Absalom in verse 2,

“My soul thirsts for God for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

 These Sons of Korah along with King David and all other devout Israelites knew that when they went to the Sanctuary in Jerusalem they were drawing near to God to meet with him in prayer and worship but now out in the wilds of the Jordan Valley they were cut off from this Sanctuary. This caused them to feel like they were dying of spiritual thirst.

We know and I think they knew to that God is not confined to a building or particular place but for the ancient Israelite the tabernacle and after David the Temple represented to them God’s special dwelling place with his people. The key concept in this verse is the words, “the living God” as Israel’s God was not a idol in a building but the one true God who is alive everywhere.

Why then did the writer feel spiritually thirsty by being separated from Jerusalem and its Sanctuary?

The writer obviously enjoyed greatly his privileged position of leading the music in Tabernacle worship as he states in verse 4,

“These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng”.

But now he is cut off from this and is out in the wilderness fighting to stay alive and feeling hopelessly spiritually lost.

The writer of Psalm 42 then declares his inner pain and feeling of hopelessness in verse 3 when he writes,

“My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

 The writer’s feelings of hopelessness are so deep it is taking his apatite away from him and instead of eating he says he is crying. I have known friends of mine, and some of them are believers who have told me they have suffered from depression and how it saps away not only their apatite but also their will to live. I think we all face times of difficulty that can give us a form of depression and even a feeling of hopelessness. We need the same remedy for this, which we will look at in the next section, which will help regain our spiritual sense of well-being.

The writer or writers of the Psalm then reveal that the feeling of hopelessness is made worse by people around them asking them, “Where is your God”. All the commentators speak of this question being posed by his enemies. However if this Psalm was written in the context of the flight from the forces of Absalom not only were there enemies asking him that question but maybe even fellow believing friends. Maybe many other fellow family and friends experienced doubts and fears as they ran from Absalom and this leader of Temple singing was a target for their feelings of hopelessness.

Sometimes people turn on Christians when they seem to be doing badly saying, “where is your God” or “if God is real why is he letting that happen to me”. Sometimes well meaning Christians can cause suffering Christians even more pain when they try to give them advice about prayer or having enough faith to be healed or delivered from their suffering.

In my study of Psalm 6 I referred to a very interesting Christian speaker called Leigh Hatcher. Recently I had the privilege of meeting and hearing him again.

Years ago when he was a highly successful T.V presenter he suffered from an illness called “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” which left him unable to work and he was constantly tied and feeling ill. He said he copped a lot of painful abuse often given to him as helpful advice like, “Leigh get yourself together and get back to work” etc.

He said the cruelest and most devastating so called advice was that from some fellow Christians who said things like, “Where is your faith” or “Haven’t you been praying about this”. These kind of comments came from Christians who believe that all we have to do is pray and God will heal us and if we are not healed then we are not really praying or we have not yet got enough faith in God to be healed. He said that even some Christians who did not understand the illness he had also said to him, “Leigh get yourself together and get back to work”. Leigh said this type of thing was sometimes even more painful to bear than the illness itself.

We need to learn from stories like this that the best thing we can offer a sick person or a person going through a difficult time is not our advice but our loving concern shown in prayerful support of that person.

I said I would refer to Edward Mote’s hymn during the study and I think the second verse raps up this first part of the Psalm 42 song very well:

When darkness veils His lovely face,

I rest on His unchanging grace,

In every high and stormy gale,

My anchor holds within the veil.

2.     HOPE IN GOD IS THE ANSWER (5)

So the song has completed its virtual first verse and now in verse 5 we have the chorus for the first time. I will relate what this chorus is saying in the context of the songs verse before it each time it comes up.

The chorus verse reads:

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will praise him, my Savior and my God”.

 I see this chorus giving three solutions or antidotes to his feelings of hopelessness.

They are:

1.     Question Yourself

2.     Put your hope in God

3.     Praise him no matter what

 

1.     Question Yourself

 The writer seems to be trying to snap himself out of his despair and feelings of hopelessness by asking himself two important questions:

“Why are you downcast, O my soul?

 And

“Why so disturbed within me?

 Some times what we need to do when we feel despondent or hopeless is to stop and take stock of our situation and particularly remind ourselves of what we really believe. Recently I watched a T.V mini series on the life of Sigmund Freud who is called “the father of psychoanalysis”. Freud came up with and promoted the idea of a dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst.

Freud learnt that by getting the patient to talk about their lives and what actually happened to them in the past helped them to be able to start to deal with the problem in the past that had disturbed them.

We need to do a bit of spiritual psychoanalysis on ourselves and this is what the writer of Psalm 42 is doing. Spurgeon says,

‘His faith reasons with his fears, his hope argues with his sorrows”.

 It is as though by his questions he is asking,

Why have I let my current difficult situation get the better of me?

Or

Why is he letting my current separation from Jerusalem and my musical ministry there make me feel so hopeless?

Sometimes we need to take stock of our feelings when they begin to control us and not God. We need to ask what are we really trusting in our God in heaven or our current circumstances. Sometimes just asking these questions will snap us out of our feelings of hopelessness.

2.     Put your hope in God

 We come to the central theme of the Psalm, the main idea or as my current minister at my church calls, “The big idea” of this passage namely, “Put your Hope in God”.

What has the writer basically told us so far?

  1. He has a raging thirst for God
  2. He wants to be back to Jerusalem to worship God there again
  3. He is crying more than eating because of his situation
  4. He misses leading the people in song or he misses being able to conduct his ministry for God.

All this is answered in one incredible phrase, “Put your hope in God’.

What was he doing by letting his difficult situation get the better of him?

He was letting his feelings triggered by his unfortunate circumstances control him and not his faith and hope in God.

Many wonderful New Testament verses come flooding into my head at this point but I will spare you by quoting only two.

  1. Romans 5: 5,

“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us”

2.  Hebrews 6: 19 – 20

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek”.

 Do you see the certainty of our Hope in Christ not the “Oh I hope it will happen” type of hope but the “It is and will happen” type of hope.

So often we let our feelings and circumstances control our lives and this will only lead to despair and a sense of hopelessness but we must learn to lift our eyes up from our feelings and circumstances to that sure and certain hope only found in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Spurgeon again puts it so eloquently when he writes,

God is unchangeable, and therefore his grace is the ground for unshaken hope. If everything be dark, yet the day will come”.

3.     Praise him no matter what

 How do we actually outwardly show we are putting our hope in God and not our feelings or current difficult circumstances?

The last part of our chorus here in Psalm 42: 5 tells us,

“For I will yet praise him my Savior and my God”

 The concept of praising God no mater what appeared in many of David’s Psalms in book one. I spoke a lot about it in my study of Psalm 32 where I referred to the story of Corrie Tan Boon who found herself in a Nazi Concentration camp. There with her sister she read from a copy of the New Testament smuggled into the camp the words of 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18,

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

 Corrie’s sister Betsy made Corrie thank God for their current situation, a flea infested, dirty and smelly barrack in a Nazi prison. Corrie at first resisted but her sister insisted and she did. A few weeks later Corrie learnt that the guards did not come into the barracks where the sisters held the bible study because of the fleas. She realized that God even uses fleas to help us.

Paul went through so much difficulty and hardship once he became a believer and missionary but he practiced what he preached he is found often in the book of acts praising God in the most difficult of circumstances.

Peter says this about difficult times in 1 Peter 1: 6 – 7,

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed”.

 I close this first chorus in Psalm 42 with Edward Mote’s hymn chorus:

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.

3.  DEALING WITH A HOPELESS SITUATION (6 – 10)

The second verse of the Psalmist song continues the theme of his feelings of hopelessness although after singing the chorus he is a little more positive about his situation then he sounded like in his first verse of his song. Even though he is starting to turn from his current circumstances to faith and hope in God he still has to deal with what seems to be, humanly speaking a hopeless situation.

He writes in verse 6,

“My soul is downcast within me: therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon – from Mount Mizar”

 I see the writer, the Korite standing on a little hill, as Mizar could also be translated little hill, looking down at the Jabbok river (a major tributary of the Jordan river and part of the Jordan valley) and then looking north and seeing the great snow capped mount Hermon in the distance. As he looks at this knowing his enemies are close at hand ready to strike them down he feels that sense of hopelessness again. However having just stated in his chorus that he has put his hope in God he seeks to remember his God even in the face of such hopelessness.

Spurgeon writes:

“It is well to tell the Lord how we feel, and the more plain the confession the better”.

Jesus offers us comforting words when we feel downcast and facing a hopeless situation in Matthew 11: 28 – 29,

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”.

 In verse 7 it looks like the writer then has the landscape around him speaking to him of his situation when he writes,

“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me”.

 Maybe he was looking down on the river near a waterfall, I looked up photo’s of this area on google and discovered that both the Jabbok river and Jordan river have small waterfalls in there path through the Trans – Jordanic territory. So as he looked at this waterfall he saw a picture of the overwhelming sense of hopelessness he is feeling. It even makes him think of waves on the ocean, which are relentless like the ever-present coming tide of Absalom and his army.

Many years ago I witnessed the constant surging waters of Niagara Falls and just could not understand how so much water can constantly flow over such a vast area. Its water flow is relentless and is a awesome sight to witness.

However in the face of such overwhelming odds, Absalom army outnumbered David’s, the writer puts his hope in God and prays. Verse 8 uses the images of night and day,

By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me – a prayer to the God of my life”.

 You see the daytime is the good times in life when things seem to be going well and the nighttime is the times when we face difficulty and suffering. However the writer says of the nighttime that even in the face of difficulty and suffering he has God’s song. Yes he is saying he is singing and maybe praising God when things are tough. This reminds me again of both the teaching of the Apostle Paul and his example. His teaching says things like Philippians 4: 4,

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say again: Rejoice!”

His example is when he was in Philippi in prison where we read in Acts 16: 25,

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening to them”.

 This leader of Tabernacle singing speaks of his dark time and sings songs about his God of love and prays. This is how we must face difficult times in our lives with a song and a prayer, with praise and turning our situation over to God who can turn all hopelessness into hope and victory.

However his prayer is not an unreal prayer devoid from reality. His prayer features three things in verses 9 and 10.

1.     Addressed to the unchangeable and reliable God

2.     A honest confession of his feelings

3.     A real request for help when facing a hopeless situation

 

1.     Addressed to the unchangeable and reliable God

 The writer’s prayer commences with the words,

“I say to God my Rock”

 We have already seen David in his Psalms in Book 1 use this term or name for God “The Rock” as seen particularly in Psalm 28. I offer again a quote I used in my study of Psalm 28 that explains what this name for God means,

“The name Rock refers to the fact that God is the foundation of everything. He alone is immovable and unbreakable.  When building a house it is important to dig down to the rock to form a strong foundation so that over time the ground beneath the house won’t begin to crumble and tear the house apart. God is the foundation for our lives that will not crumble” (From Parent Company, Awareness of God / Names of God).

So when this leader of singing faces his hopeless situation he prays to God not with some vain hope he will help him but with the unbelievable assurance that his God is “The Rock” the unchangeable and reliable God who can help us face the ever-changeable unreliable world we live in.

2.     A honest confession of his feelings

 After addressing God as his rock, unchangeable and reliable one he seems to make a request that disagrees with how he sees God. We read the first part of his prayer to God in verse 9,

“Why have you forgotten me?”

 The problem here is how can he say in one breath “God my Rock” and then with the next breath, “Why have you forgotten me”?

This leader of Temple singing and music would have known and sung David’s famous 23rd Psalm which says in verse 4,

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me”.

 Yet he seems to say he believes God has forgotten or even forsaken him.

The answer to this conundrum is that the writer is expressing again his very real true feelings to God. He is out in the wilderness with hundreds of other people facing a large well-equipped and vicious army that is about to annihilate him and all who like him are staying true to King David.

We see that this must be the case by his words,

“Why must I go about mourning oppressed by the enemy?”

 This honest heart felt emotion has been a feature of all the prayers so far in the book of Psalms and continues throughout the Psalms to come. David and people like The Sons of Korah are not afraid of telling God exactly how they are feeling and what they are facing in their struggles in their lives.

Maybe this is what Jesus is speaking about in Matthew 6: 5 – 8

 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him”.

 Jesus is saying God does not want to hear upright even spot on theological discourses when we pray that are only often spoken by the prayer to show off how wonderful they are. No God desires us to be honest and real and pray a genuine prayer that comes from a sincere heart that reaches out to God for help.

This is the prayer of the Son’s of Korah who wrote Psalm 42 and as we will see in the next section they are presenting to God a very problem that only God can solve.

3.     A real request for help when facing a hopeless situation

So what is this real request?

We find it in verse 10,

“My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

His request given in the form of a further description of his predicament and question he is simply asking God to help him overcome or at least deal with the taunts of his enemies. We touched on this in verse 3 although here he is definitely singling out the taunts of his enemies or foes.

The effect on him from their taunts is like his bones being crushed. At the age of 14 I suffered a broken wrist when playing a rugby football match and the pain of that injury was some of the worse pain I have ever experienced. I like this saying I found on the internet,

“Words can hurt far more than sticks and stones. Bruises heal but cruel words can make us cry for years.”

When I got to the hospital and eventually got to see a doctor the day I broke my wrist I had my wrist set in plaster and with the help of pain killing drugs the pain went away. However as the saying says “Bruises heal but cruel words can make us cry for years”.

As David left Jerusalem with the many hundreds of loyal family and friends he encountered on the way many cruel taunts from those who did not support him. Listen to one cruel taunt one nasty man named Shimei gave him recorded in 2 Samuel 16: 7 – 8

“Get out, get out, you man of blood, you scoundrel! The LORD has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The LORD has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a man of blood!”

This man did not hold back and David interestingly had to hold back his faithful soldiers from slaying this man for what he was saying. This then is an illustration of the kind of taunts The Sons of Korah are referring to here in Psalm 42. They looked like they were on the loosing side, Absalom was in charge and David was on the run and according to men like Shimei God was going to bring them to ruin.

Christians more and more are being marginalized today and as we are negative taunts against us are growing. We need to take this problem to God in prayer asking for his help to be able to deal with this. The last verse of this song is found in the next psalm and it deals with the issue of vindication and we will look more closely at this then.

Finally another verse of Edward Mote’s hymn will help bring this section to a conclusion:

His oath, His covenant, His blood

Support me in the whelming flood;

When all around my soul gives way,

He then is all my hope and stay.

4.     HOPE IN GOD IS THE ANSWER (11)

So we have completed the second verse of this song written by The Son’s of Korah and now we have the chorus or refrain again,

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will praise him, my Savior and my God”.

As I said when commenting on this chorus in verse 5 this is the central or big idea of this Psalm. It contains the answer to our feelings of hopelessness when we are facing what might seem to us an impossible unwinnable situation. As I said in the first chorus section it provides a three-point answer, which is:

1.     Question Yourself

2.     Put your hope in God

3.     Praise him no matter what

 I would like to now quickly relate this answer to the issues raised in what I have been calling the second verse of the song, which primarily raised the issue of dealing with a hopeless situation.

1.     Question Yourself

 In actual fact the writer or writers started to do this in this section. He speaks of his downcast soul in verse 6, he prays to God with questions like,

Why have you forgotten me?”

 “Why must I go about mourning?” (verse 9)

Now he repeats his psychoanalytic questioning with the words,

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?

Sometimes all we need is a good talking to ourselves even in an attitude of prayer. I can honestly say that I have had many personal prayer times when I have found the answer to my prayer and problems simply by just talking through the problem as part of my prayer request.

May I suggest that if you find the problem you are facing still bothers you and you feel you simply cannot find God’s peace and answer then maybe you need help from a trusted Christian friend or minister. I can say that I have found help like this when a problem or difficulty has really got to me.

Also I know from time to time I have been able to offer counsel and help to a fellow Christian who has come to me as they have faced an impossible problem. Sometimes all I have been able to say is, “I will pray for you” and surprising I have been told by the some people that that was the best help they have been given. Maybe all the person who came to me for help was looking for was a loving supportive sounding board to listen to them and who was willing to offer them prayerful support as they faced their problem or difficulty.

2.      Put your hope in God

Each week my current minister will say “And this weeks big idea is” and for this Psalm it is, “Put your Hope in God”. So how does this big idea relate to what we saw in the last section or as I called it second verse of The Sons of Korah’s song?

During the second section the writer has been saying:

  1. He is still feeling downcast.
  2. Particularly when he realises geographically the predicament he is in.
  3. He feels overwhelmed by his predicament
  4. Yet by day (good times) and by night (difficult times) he will praise his God.
  5. He sees God as his Rock, unchangeable and reliable
  6. Yet he feels abandoned by God when he sees the oppression of his enemies.
  7. He also feels crushed by the taunts of his enemies.

The answer to all this is “Put your Hope in God”. It is interesting that after stating this big idea in the first chorus something of it seeps into things he is saying when he is speaking about dealing with his hopeless situation. Particularly in what he says in verse 8,

“By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me – a prayer to the God of my life”.

Interestingly Edward Mote wrote two other verses for his hymn that were dropped by the original publishers and they read,

My hope built on nothing less

Than Jesus blood and righteousness;

Midst all the hell I feel within,

On His completed work I lean.

I trust His righteous character

His council, promise, and all His power;

His honor and His name’s at stake,

To save me from the burning lake.

Mote is expressing what we as Christians have as “Our Hope in God”. It is anchored, using his expression in the completed work of the Lord Jesus when he died for our sins on the cross. This work of Christ saves us from the judgment to come which Mote describes as, “The burning lake” a reference to Revelation 21:8.

Two final “Hope” New Testament verses will nail down what our hope is as Christians is, 1 Peter 1: 13,

“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming”.

And what this hope does to us in this life, Romans 15: 13,

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”.

3.     Praise him no matter what

As I said the first time this chorus appeared in verse 5, Praising God no matter what outwardly shows we are putting our hope in God and not our feelings or current difficult circumstances.

I also said the writer or writers of the Psalm started to do this in the second section when they wrote,

“By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me – a prayer to the God of my life”. (verse 8)

 So the Psalm closes with the idea of praising God no matter what,

“For I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God”

 I don’t think the word, “yet” here is speaking about praising God when Absalom forces are defeated, which they were and he was back serving God and Israel in the Tabernacle in Jerusalem, which he did but “yet” in the sense of “despite of” his current circumstances.

Note also his confidence in God when he calls God his Savior. Savior is a loaded term for all Christians because we believe Jesus is our Savior from our sins but here God is his Savior from his enemies represented at that time by Absalom and his mighty forces.

However we have seen by many Psalms of David in the first book that David knew he needed a Savior from his many sins and God was that to him as well as David wrote in Psalm 38: 22,

“Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior”.

The Absalom rebellion did not last long as he was defeated in the forest area called Ephraim, east of the Jordan not far from where I believe David was camped with his family and followers. So the Son’s of Korah were able to return to their treasured ministry of leading the people in song and music.

However they also returned with a new song to sing a song that we have seen taught them to “Put there hope in God” no matter what happens, no matter how hopeless things might seem and no matter what other people might say.

I close with my own poem on putting our hope in God and particularly have Christians who feel depressed in mind in this poem) :

WHERE HOPE IS FOUND (Based on Psalm 42)

I thirst for the living God

Longing to be close to him

I feel so far away from God

Will I feel his love again?

My tears overwhelm me now

My foes seek to bring me down

No hope in this terrible hour

I feel like I’m going to drown.

 

I remember better times Oh Lord

As I pour out my soul to you

How I led your worship Lord

Those times seem far from view.

Oh Lord I feel so down and out

I feel like there’s no hope to win.

I long to be free of my doubt

To rise up again and sing.

 

Refrain:

Why am I so downcast?

Jesus died for me.

Hope is found in him alone

Help me Lord to see.

 

But Lord I feel so far from you

I seek you but cannot see

I long to stand on high and view

Your creative majesty.

Mighty oceans and waterfalls

Seem to suck and pull me down.

So my lost dark heart now calls

Where is hope to be found?

 

I know your love directs me Lord

I know that nights must come

Help me in my darkness Lord

To praise you with my tongue.

I look to you Oh God my Rock

And this my prayer will be

That doubting voices will now stop

And I will rise up free.

 

Refrain:

Why am I so downcast?

Jesus died for me.

Hope is found in him alone

Help me Lord to see.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

 Oh Lord help us all to see that when the pressures of the world and this life come upon us that you are with us in the difficulties of Life as our sure hope and guide. That you sent your Son Jesus Christ to this world to die for our sins on the cross and to defeat those forces of evil that seek to bring us down. Lift us up from all doubts and fears to a sure and certain hope in your love and power. In Jesus name we pray Amen.