Monday, February 20, 2017

"Help of my Countenance" (Psalms 42,5, 11; 43,5)

The Psalmist on occasions feels that his soul is downcast..he thirsts for God like a deer pants for the water brooks. He cries out to God day and night and wonders why he does not sense God's presence as before. He remembers days past when he went into the house of God with the multitudes and sang with a voice of joy and praise. So he encourages himself that there is yet hope that God will answer him as before and his soul be lifted up once more - the help of his countenance. God's presence beaming on him is the help of his countenance.
If God forsakes him even for a moment his soul is downcast but when God commands his loving kindness in the morning the Psalmist is revived - the help of his countenance.  At night he worships God with a song, a prayer to the God of his life (42,8). His life is only meaningful and worth living if only God is the help of his countenance.  His sense of pessimism is pressed further by the feeling of being besieged by his enemies who reproach him (42,10). So the Psalmist pleads for God to vindicate him as only God can, to plead his cause against an ungodly nation and against a deceitful and unjust man (43,1). He knows when God hears him, he will go to worship at the altar of God, to God his exceeding joy and with his harp the Psalmist will yet offer praise to God. The thrice repeated question "why are you so downcast,  O my soul?"is resolved only in hope that God hears him once more and becomes the help of his countenance.

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