This Psalm was likely written at the same time as Psalm 42. Its theme is similar and verse 5 of this psalm is the same as the refrain of verses 5 and 11 of the previous psalm. The aforementioned psalm is about feeling far away from the Lord and this one is about being persecuted. In Countries like the America and Great Britain we do not face much persecution for our faith. But we do face some and it is getting worse. Until The Day of Judgement there will be people who hate us, people who try to hurt us and hurt our testimony. Jesus promised us that. (John 15:18-25). The author of this Psalm knew where to look during his persecution. He trusted the Lord to take care of Him and left retribution to Him as well. Verse 1 reads,
“Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
His enemies wanted to get him. They wanted nothing more than his destruction. And the author cried out to God for rescue. But the Lord didn’t rescue him immediately. God does that for us sometimes. He holds back, he waits, always with a reason, and always for our benefit. Perhaps the author needed to be strengthened, perhaps he needed his faith tested and proved, or maybe the Lord used his enemies to discipline him. God waits sometimes. And we think we will never get through the situation intact. And maybe God doesn’t want us intact. He allows us to go through the fires to purify us. 1 Peter 1:5-9 say,
“who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
The writer understood this, but persistent in his prayer regardless. Even Jesus repeated His prayers through His suffering. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed three times, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” (Matthew 26:38-44). Prayer allows us to maintain our dependence on God. It allows us to communicate with Him. We speak our hearts and God speaks His. In that communion He leads, teaches, comforts, encourages and exhorts. Verses 2-3 continue the prayer,
“For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?
3 Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!”
While the author longed for the comfort and safety of God to remove his trial, he still asked for God’s light and truth to lead him. He didn’t want to depend on his emotions to lead him, or his faulty wisdom to guide his decisions. He wanted God to show Him the way. Prayer, meditation on God’s Word, and reflection of our communion with God brings us nearer to Him. As we contemplate God’s Word, He comforts us. He lets us know Him more deeply and we know that even while we are persecuted and suffering that God has us, we are safe in His hands, and our future is secure in Him.
James 1:2-8 reflects on the benefits of the trials we suffer and the communion with God as we depend on Him to teach us, guide us through them, and come out looking more like Jesus with the Fruit of the Spirit.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
Although we suffer God is always with us. And we can know it well and completely. If we know God well, we know He will make us wise, conform us to His image and bring us through. We can without a doubt praise Him and thank Him, even before the manifestation of our hope and prayers. The psalmist looked forward to praising God for the answer to his prayer. Verses 4-5 read,
“Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.
5 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.”
No matter how low we feel, regardless of the depth of our grief or the intensity of our suffering we can rejoice, we can praise, and we can thank the Lord. He is with us. He has a purpose for all He allows us to go through. He loves us so deeply and knows us so well that we are free to trust Him with our lives, our salvation, and our hearts.