Psalm 42:11 – 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.
This short Psalm has been a refuge for many of God’s people throughout the centuries. Its opening expressions of thirst for God are deeply moving. David is in pain. And, he is counseling himself. I think it was D. Martin Lloyd-Jones who remarked that Christians need to talk to themselves more – to take their own thoughts in hand and counsel themselves from what they know of God’s Word and from their life experiences of Him. This is David’s tack.
Now his question in this last verse is one he asks both honestly, and rhetorically.
In the first part, he lists things that reasonably bring sorrow to his soul and would make him downcast. Written when he was fleeing from his own son’s attempt at a coup for the throne, that form of betrayal and violence would deeply distress anyone. Being on the run for his life, and not in the place where he can worship with his beloved people as was his practice. Taunted by his enemies. Chased like a common criminal while family and friends plot his demise. These are reasonable causes for great despair.
But then he also asks it rhetorically as he reminds himself of the greater reality overshadowing his present distresses – and sort of chides himself: Why – even though these other things are true – why should my soul be cast down and I be full of inner turmoil? For in the final analysis, I know this: I can hope in the God who has proven Himself to me all my life. I can trust in Him that the time WILL come that I will yet praise Him. For He is my salvation. He is my God. So why in the world should I let these other things – as dire as they may be – blot out the abiding knowledge of God’s power, goodness, grace and promises?
And perhaps you and I need to ask that very same thing today as well. Let us face our trials without trying to pretend they are not there. But also face them in the full knowledge that He, IS there. And He stands above all.
This is the heritage of those reconciled to Him in Christ Jesus.