This introduction serves as an invitation to join in an on-going journey of discovery. You will not need to buy tickets nor make travel plans. All that's required is your Bible and a quiet place to read and meditate. Together we'll explore the Book of Psalms, Israel’s hymnal and longest collection of poetry.  

Psalm 43

Send Forth Your Light

(1) Vindicate me, God, and plead my cause against an ungodly people. From deceitful and unjust men deliver me, (2) for you (are) God, my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why do I walk to and fro in mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? (3) Send forth your light and your truth. Let them lead me. Let them bring me to your holy mountain, even to your dwelling place. (4) Then I will go in to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you on the lyre, O God, my God. (5) Why are you cast down, my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I will once again praise him for the salvation of his countenance, and my God.

The earnestness of this relatively short but impassioned prayer, probably composed during the Babylonian exile, is first made evident in the psalmist’s eight-fold repetition of “God/my God.” Then his use of nine imperatival verb forms in five verses adds to its intensity.

The psalm begins on a somber note with the author pleading with God for vindication and protection during Israel’s sojourn among ungodly captors (vss. 1 & 2). The tone then becomes more upbeat with appeals to God for restoration to Jerusalem and a commitment to joyful worship once there (vss. 3 & 4). The psalm closes with an almost verbatim repetition of the last verse of the previous psalm in which the psalmist exhorts himself to put his hope in God in disheartening circumstances (vs. 5).

I.  Prayer for vindication and protection  (1 & 2)
II.  Prayer for restoration to Zion  (3 & 4)
III.  Why so downcast? Hope in God.  (5)

Anguish over present difficulties turns to joyful praise when we look to God for the strength and guidance he has promised to give us.

One clear memory I have of the local church which we attended when I was a child is of the choir singing a call to worship based on Psalm 43:3. Almost every Sunday we would hear the same words sung to the same music: “Send forth thy light and thy truth. Let them lead me. / O, let them lead me to thy holy hill.” Although quoted out of context, these words expressed the hope that God would meet us in worship each Sunday and provide us with his guidance for the coming week. Many years later, I still cannot read the words in Psalm 43 without hearing the melody of that introit running through my head.

While we may not live in exile far from home as did the Jews in Babylon, all of us from time to time find ourselves in circumstances that challenge our faith and cause us to feel like complete outsiders. We are all constantly in need of God’s direction and illumination to provide guidance for our lives. There is certainly nothing wrong and perhaps everything right with using a prayer like this ancient invocation to express to Yahweh our desire for his presence and protection, his wisdom and guidance, in the midst of all that we regularly face. 

Psalm 44:1-8

Psalm 42