Hope in 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” (v. 5).

- Psalm 43

David’s lamentation of being excluded from the presence of God in the sanctuary continues from Psalm 42 to Psalm 43. David directed both these prayers (which may have actually been one) to God for the purpose of lifting his soul from its downcast state. He had been oppressed by his enemies and separated from the worship of God in the assembly of His people, and David’s heart was heavy with the loss of God’s special presence. Believers often feel this way when they are deprived of fellowship with other believers or when they have not taken of the Lord’s Supper for a long period. This sacrament brings refreshing and strengthening of faith, and when it is long neglected, God’s people can become dry in their spiritual life. Believers can also feel distant from God when they have become negligent in their spiritual duties, such as Bible reading and prayer.

The situation in which David found himself was accentuated by the trials he faced. This can be true for us as well. When things are most difficult, we hunger even more for God’s special presence in our lives. Our souls become downcast not only when we have neglected God’s means of strengthening His people but when we are dealing with a particular problem, which can cause us to spiral quickly into the depths of despair.

David’s remedy for the despairing soul is seen in the chorus repeated three times in Psalms 42 and 43: “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him.” David meditated on the goodness of God, on His love and faithfulness, and on His truth and light as means to guide Him in troubles. David knew that if he dwelled on his problems without putting his hope in God, he would be lost in despair and despondency. He realized that only by lifting his thoughts to God would he eventually be able to praise Him appropriately.

God has given abundant promises to His people—promises of endurance, perseverance, eternal security. During times of despair, we should meditate on these, fixing our hope on God’s grace and precious gifts. It is too easy to be overcome by our feelings during difficult times; therefore, we must turn our thoughts toward God in faith, even when we do not “feel” like it, putting our hope in the only One who can lift our downcast souls.

Coram Deo

What do you do when you are plagued with despair or troubling thoughts? What should you do? Look up some verses that help you meditate on the grace, promises, and love of God (i.e. Rom. 8). Keep this list so you can turn to it in times of despair.

Passages for Further Study

Titus 2:11–14
Hebrews 6:13–20
1 Peter 1:3–9

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