Psalms 42 and 43 are believed by some to be one single Psalm. Note the refrain of “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God” (42:5-6, 11, 43:5). It is a heartfelt cry that we are all familiar with. We know Who God is. We know of His love and His provision and His never-ending grace. And yet, our souls are often cast down and in turmoil because of our outward circumstances. How human!
The song begins with a beautiful metaphor for our sincere desire for God. He is water to our souls (42:1-2)! Our desire is to be in His presence (v. 2). And yet, sometimes He seems far away. We lament our circumstances (v. 3). Yet our desire is to praise God (v. 4). And we will praise Him again, so why this turmoil within us (v. 5)? And yet our souls do get cast down within us. The troubles around us are like water covering us, at times (v. 7). Sometimes, we feel like we’re drowning in trouble! Yet God is with us through it all (v. 8). And even knowing that, we question Him when the turmoil comes (vv. 9-10). And yet, we will praise Him again, so why is our soul cast down in these times (v. 11)?
Psalm 43* continues the song. God is our deliverer (43:1). We take refuge in Him (v. 2). Yet sometimes He feels so far away it’s as if He has rejected us (v. 2). Yet our desire is to be led by Him – by His truth (v. 3). This will lead us to Him! And in Him we will find our joy, and we will praise Him (v. 4). Yet, we have our refrain again. In the chaos of life, knowing Who He is does not keep us from that desperation of soul. Yet we can hope in Him. We will again sing His praises (v. 5). Why is our soul cast down?
Psalm 55 is a Psalm of David. Nobody seems to know when this was written, and the circumstances David speaks of can describe any number of situations he has found himself in. David starts with a plea for God to hear his prayer (55:1-2). Wicked men seek his life without cause (v. 3). And we see David express his fear to God (vv. 4-5). His instinct is to flee so as to escape the opposition (vv. 6-8). In verse 9, David is praying that God would “divide their tongues,” a reference to God’s judgment at Babel. David prays for judgment for his enemies.
In verses 12-14 David laments that this enemy was once a friend, which is what hurts him most. This can be (perhaps) a reference to Saul? Maybe Ahithophel? Maybe Mephibosheth when David thought he had betrayed him? David is mourning the loss of a friend, but we see he is also angry because of his harsh prayers for judgment (v. 15). How often we feel sadness over the loss of a friend, and anger towards them all at the same time?
David then turns his attention to God and His goodness. He is a God that saves (v. 16). He is a God Who hears the prayers of His people (v. 17). He is a God that protects His people (v. 18). He is the just Judge (v. 19). Yet David then returns to lamenting the friend-turned-enemy (vv. 20-21). Then he returns to praising God and His care (v. 22). David ends the Psalm with a prayer of trust that God will judge justly (v. 23). The mixture of emotions David expresses in this Psalm is something we have all experienced. Like in Psalms 42 and 43, the circumstances of life may get us down, but our trust in God remains.
Psalm 62 is similar to Psalm 55 in that David speaks of someone deceitful, who turned out to be someone other than he thought they were. But here, there is a much greater expression of Who David believes God to be. David will wait on God in tumultuous times, because He alone is David’s refuge and salvation (62:1-2). David has been attacked and is feeling weak (v. 3). Liars have exposed themselves for what they are (v. 4 – perhaps the same deceitful “friend” from Psalm 55). Yet David declares again that he will wait on God (v. 5) because He alone is David’s refuge and salvation (vv. 5-7). David then calls for all to trust God as he does (v. 8), because the circumstances of this world don’t change what we are in the world to come. This life is short and what the world offers in meaningless (vv. 9-10). What matters is God. Seek Him in this life, because to Him belongs salvation, and judgment (vv. 11-12).
*This is a great song based on Psalm 43: https://open.spotify.com/track/1mTjaLoLvATDhtxgACbL7s?si=4edc4d8680cd43ca