Hope in Hard Places

The Book of Psalms
Psalm 43 – Hope in Hard Places 
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Feb. 3rd, 2019

Intro:

  • There is no Biblical promise that life will be easy, but we are promised that God will be with us in all things, and if we call out to Him, He will respond.  Will you call out to Him? Will you continue to trust Him while you wait for Him to respond?  Will you believe that He will work on your behalf? Will you continue to stand in faith when you feel forgotten and rejected?  What are you to do to help you get through? These are the questions that are both raised and addressed in this psalm as we look for hope in hard places.  
  • The story line of the psalms as a whole is moving from the promise in the first section to praise in the last section (5). Section one has its focus on learning to walk in relationship with God and trusting His promises. This morning we are moving to the second section of the book of Psalms, where the psalmists and the people are going through hard times. There is questioning and confusion about what they are going through as they continue to cry out to God for help, deliverance and vindication. 
  • Psalm 42 and 43 start the second section of psalms.  Both of these psalms end with the exact same words.  Most bible scholars say that psalm 42-43 were one psalm that was broken into two parts and they pair them together.  That is why Psalm 43 does not have a heading, but it was also written by the “Sons of Korah” (from Psalm 42). 
  • Who were the “Sons of Korah?”  They were of the tribe of Levi, who were given the task of taking care of the temple, teaching the people the things of God and leading people in worship.  Korah was a priest who led a rebellion with 250 leaders of Israel against Moses and Aaron while they were still in the wilderness. They questioned Moses’ God-given authority and right to lead them. Moses told Korah and the 250 to take censers and burn incense before the Lord on the next day, and he and Aaron would do the same and the Lord will show the people who was approved by Him.  
  • The next day most of Israel showed up and God was going to destroy them, but Moses and Aaron intervened. God told them to separate themselves from Korah and two other leaders. Then the ground opened up and their belongings and most of their families fell into the earth, which them close up again. Then fire broke out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the men who were burning incense as part of the rebellion.  God then instructed Moses to take the censers they were using out of the flames (because the fire of God had touched them, they became holy) and to use them as hammered plates to cover the altar as a reminder that no one who is not called and qualified of God may serve Him before the altar. (see Numbers chapter 16)
  • God did spare some of the sons of Korah and they continued to serve the Lord as priests. These men could have become bitter and resentful of what God had done, but instead they held God, His holiness and His judgments at a higher place than even their family.  They were reminded every time they saw the altar as to what had happened and they were a sign that God was just and also that He was merciful in leaving Korah some decedents to continue to serve as priests.
  • Now we can have a better understanding and appreciation of what these men went through and who they were because of their past.  When we read the opening lines of Psalm 42, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps 42:1-2 ESV) These were men who understood the holiness and power of God in a very personal way, and they came out of it not being angry with God but having a deeper desire for Him, like a deer who was desperate for water.  This is an incredible statement and desire knowing who they were and what they had seen.   
  • They had believed the promises of God, they were living for Him, serving Him and experiencing some very hard times.  They had become separated from the people of God as well as public worship, and they were being persecuted for their faith as they continued to cry out to God.  I think all of us can relate to this psalm at some point in our lives, and some of you in this room are currently at this place.  When we read though this today, we will see a cry for help, a complaint of rejection, a call for guidance and then a command to hope, which is the final takeaway and application from this psalm.  (And it would be a good idea to read Psalm 42 and then connect it with Psalm 43 on your own, however for this morning we will be focusing on Psalm 43).

A cry for help

Ps 43:1 HCSB 
Vindicate me, God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly nation;
rescue me from the deceitful and unjust man. 
  • Society as a whole was against these men, as a number of specific people full of deceit were attacking them because of their choice to honor God by living according to Him and His word.  We face similar questioning, pressure and persecution from people in our society if we are striving to serve God and live by His word.  In many segments of society, we are ridiculed for believing the bible is the authoritative word of God, that there is a one true God and Jesus is the only way to the Father, for believing in a creator and a creation, believing that sex was given for one man and one women to be shared within the covenant of marriage, that we honor and worship God together as a church, that we give our time and our money, that we seek to live in love and not in lust or greed, or anger or self-centeredness. They we don’t celebrate drunkenness or choose dishonor God with our language. That we try to walk in forgiveness and raise our families to live according to faith. That we defend the lives of the unborn and say every life has value . . . we are talked down upon, pressured, ridiculed, and attacked by society in general and by a specific people who we know.  
  • There is a cry to God for vindication, for being declared innocent and right, a cry to God to defend our cause against an ungodly nation, and to be rescued from people who are deceitful and unjust and who are specifically coming against us.     

A complaint of rejection

Ps 43:2 HCSB
For You are the God of my refuge.
Why have You rejected me?
Why must I go about in sorrow
because of the enemy's oppression? 
  • After this cry to God for help, there is a complaint. God, you are my safe place, you are my refuge, you are the one I turn to for my protection, for my comfort, for my safety.  So why are you rejecting me?  Why are you not protecting me?  Why must I go about in sorrow because of the enemy’s oppression?  And these complaints have perhaps been on your lips as well. God, I am following after you and doing your work and striving to do your will and yet you have not come to my aid, you have not stopped this sorrow and oppression – while all I have done is try to do what is right, and true, and just according to your way and your word. Why God, have you not done anything and why am I the one suffering like this?  This isn’t fair!!  
  • Again, these are the sons of Korah. These are people who are following after God. This is us as well, which again points to the fact that living for God and standing on His word does not free us from opposition and oppression, but in many cases causes it to come into our lives.  And then rightly we pray to God for help and cry out to Him, and we complain that we are going through these difficult and sorrowful time and cry out for help while we feel rejected, after we go through this then we next turn to ask “what are we to do now” and call for guidance from God.  

A call for guidance

Ps 43:3-4 HCSB
Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me. 
Let them bring me to Your holy mountain,
to Your dwelling place. 4 Then I will come to the altar of God,
to God, my greatest joy. I will praise You with the lyre, God,
my God. 
  • God, show me the way I am to go and the reason why I should go that way, Lord I am looking to you to lead me, I am still committed to you and want to follow you. Send Your light and Your truth- let them lead me.  This is a prayer for discernment and direction as to what to do, this is a calling out for wisdom and guidance. God, illuminate the path you want me to take, what the specific steps are that I should take to follow the path of your truth. 
  • This is a great prayer and the right prayer to pray in a place of crying out, and a place of our complaint – God show me what to do – lead me by your truth.  And we turn to the word of God for guidance, it is illuminated by the presence of God to show us the way forward. 
  • The hope would be that the end destination of our soul and the desire of our heart is to be with God, to know Him, honor Him, live with Him.  This is the desire of the children of God to be with there Father and look for the pathway to be with him.  This is not the path of self-service but the way to be with God, and to worship and praise Him in His presence.  To understand, and know, and honor Him for His power, His truth, His heart, and the wisdom of His ways. This should be the heart that we are crying out to Him with. 
  • After these prayers to God, now the sons of Korah turn and have a conversation with themselves. 

A command to hope

Ps 43:5 HCSB
Why am I so depressed?
Why this turmoil within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him,
my Savior and my God.
  • After crying out and calling out to God in prayer, we come to our senses and have a conversation with ourselves.  We ask ourselves, “Why am I so depressed? Why do I have all the turmoil inside of me?” We need to tell ourselves to “put your hope in God.” We need to have a good sit down conversation with ourselves, like saying “Hey, what is your problem, put your hope in God!” Choose to still praise Him even though you are going through hardship, even though you are being oppressed. Still praise Him, for He is your Savior and He is your God.  He is the one who will save you, He is the one that you have given yourself too. He does hear you, He will guide you, He will save you, He will vindicate you.  

Conclusion 

  • This is the talk that you need to have with yourself: tell yourself to place your hope in Him, choose to still praise Him, continue to follow in His path, wait for His deliverance, for His salvation, and for His vindication.  There ishope in hard places.  You willget though, and your Savior and your God will come through. 
  • There will be tests and trials, there will be pain and persecutions, but God is worth enduring all these things. To be with Him and to find our joy in Him is greater than all that we have to endure and suffer. It is worth it along the way, and it will be so very worth it in the end. Cry out to God, talk to Him about your complaints, call to him for guidance and hang onto hope as you seek Him, worship Him, and wait for His salvation and vindication. 
  • Prayer people and prayer
  • Closing song