So many of our petitions to God boil down to this one word, “Help”. In view of that, a couple of today’s psalms will sound pretty familiar.
David’s Psalm 43 is clearly asking for God to be on the side of the nation of Israel against her enemies, and on the surface it might seem like the application might be of a Christian nation against enemies — except that God’s kingdom is spiritual rather than political. The real application of this psalm is to ask God’s help for the church against her enemies — and the church has enemies. Satan would be the first on the list: “So the dragon (Satan) was enraged with the woman (God’s people, including the church), and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” Revelation 12:17, NAS95. False teachers might be another on that list: “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” 2 Peter 2:1, NAS95. Likewise, those who would cause division: “If any man destroys the temple of God (contextually, by division of the church), God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” 1 Corinthians 3:17, NAS95. Such enemies do attack, do oppress, and do cause suffering. And their defeat won’t come by fighting the world’s way, but by following God’s light and truth (v.3).
Psalm 44 is sort of a Job psalm; God’s people are being oppressed, but the psalmist is calling to mind the times when God saved His people — not by their own sword or military might, but by God’s power. It asks God to again to rescue, but wonders why God seems to be silent. God isn’t answering right away; waiting patiently is the order of the day; yet the psalmist pleads to God to come to his aid quickly. This writer (me) has personally endured waiting, still waits for some things; so, believe me when I say that it is one of the hardest things that a disciple can do. It can erode faith, it can chip away at confidence, and plant seeds of doubt. But you have to hang in there: “Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31, NAS95.
This last psalm seems to be a king’s wedding song, not too unlike the Song of Solomon. This superficially celebrates the beauty of human love, but more importantly it gives a metaphor to work with on the relationship between Christ and the church, one that is introduced here, continued in the prophet Hosea, continued in other OT books like Ezekiel, and brought to Pauline teaching in Ephesians 5:22-33.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.