Psalm 43:5

Verse of the Week – Psalm 43:5

“Why are you in despair, my soul? And why are you restless within me? Wait for God, for I will again praise Him For the help of His presence, my God.” – Psalm 43:5

First, let us look at the first four verses spoken by David directly to God. Starting in verse one we read, “Vindicate me, God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation; Save me from the deceitful and unjust person!” Psalm 43:1. David cites the hesed in verse one of the Lord, as the rationale for claiming a right to God’s judgment. The word hesed occurs around 245 times in the Hebrew Bible, and 127 times in the Psalms. One Jewish scholar defines hesed as “a free-flowing love that knows no bounds.”

Many biblical words such as mercy, compassion, love, grace, and faithfulness relate to the Hebrew word hesed (חֶסֶד), but none of these completely summarize the concept. Hesed is not merely an emotion or feeling but also action on behalf of someone who is in need. Hesed describes a sense of love and loyalty that brings mercy and compassion toward another person to help them through their trials. Hesed is most closely connected in the Hebrew Bible with the covenant relationship between God and the children of Israel. In Genesis 15, God covenants with Abram, saying: “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:” Genesis 15:18. Then following in chapter 17 we read, “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. And I will give to you and to your descendants after you the land where you live as a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.” Genesis 17:7-9.” Then in Exodus 19, God speaks to the children of Israel regarding their responsibility. “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” Exodus 19:5-6. In each instance, God calls the Israelites into a unique and special relationship centered around a covenant.

Hesed is often used in parallel with the Hebrew word ʾemeṯ, which is translated as faithfulness. In Psalm 43:1 for example, David declares that the people have no hesed, meaning either the Philistines, among whom he was near to; or his own nation when they joined his son Absalom in rebellion against him: some understand it of the great numbers that were with Saul, when he was persecuted by him. No matter which, they were a people who hated David, his followers, and the God he served. And thus, they had no hesed. Then in Exodus, God declares the following, “Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in faithfulness and truth; who keeps faithfulness for thousands, who forgives wrongdoing, violation of His Law, and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, inflicting the punishment of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations. Exodus 34:6–7.

 In the next verse, we see David confronted by a people who have no knowledge of hesed, this special relationship between God and His people. He asks questions of God that parallel the questions in Psalm 42. “For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” Psalm 43:2. Notice the similarity in chapter 43. “For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” Psalm 42:9.

Next, we read David’s request from God because of what he was experiencing.  “Send out Your light and Your truth, they shall lead me; They shall bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places. Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And I will praise You on the lyre, God, my God.” Psalm 43:3-4. David quickly moves to petition God and anticipating His results of granting that petition. He requests that God send His light (‘Ohr’) and faithfulness (ʾemeṯ) because they will bring him to the mountain and will come to the altar and praise Him. The Hebrew word ‘Ohr’ has the idea of ‘light’, which in today’s definition means illumination or an agent that makes something visible. But, in Hebrew, light or ohr means something more.  Ohr also has the idea of “giving order to something chaotic.” And the Hebrew word ‘emet’ has the idea of truth, right, and faithful. Light and faithfulness are not commonly paired in the poetic structure of the Hebrew Psalms. Perhaps David asks for light so that the path to the mountain of God’s holiness and the sanctuary will be clear and for faithfulness such that he is not distracted from following the path. Only then will David be able to come to the altar, encounter God with gladness, with rejoicing, and praise. And to make this thought clear, it is not an earthly holy hill or alter, but one in the heavenly presence of God.

Then in our focus verse David changes from speaking to God to speaking to his inner self. “Why are you in despair, my soul? And why are you restless within me? Wait for God, for I will again praise Him For the help of His presence, my God. Psalm 43:5. He calls his inmost being to wait for God. But, in keeping with the contrast already drawn above, David’s words seem not so much to draw the inmost being back from the brink of despair but to gently remind himself to wait and be confident in God. He will wait on God to send His light and faithfulness, and  they will guide him to the altar of God so he can give Him much praise and worship.

In our struggles with those who do not honor the hesed of God, Psalm 43 offers us words with which to request light and faithfulness from God. It gives us words of assurance that no matter our situation, we may always come to the altar and praise the God who delivers us, for He never forgets us and always loves us. This is a statement, poetically phrased as a question whose answer should be obvious. It’s natural to be tempted towards despair and discouragement. Despite our feelings, we know God is faithful and that He will ultimately vindicate His people. For that reason, we should be encouraged to put all our trust in the Lord.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Psalm 16:11

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 16:11

“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” – Psalm 16:11

This is a very encouraging verse.  David here is speaking to the Lord and thanking Him for the goodness of the life to come.  First he is saying that God has shown to Him the path of life.  What he is referring to is that even though he may die in this life, God will not keep him in this state.  He would be brought back to the living world, that which is life everlasting.  David believed in the resurrection from the dead.  He believed that God had for Him a life that will no end.  “He asked life of You, you gave it to him, Length of days forever and ever.” Psalm 21:4. We see this same idea from Daniel.  “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.  Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:2-3.  The idea of everlasting life for the righteous is found in various places in the Old Testament, and David took comfort in this truth. Note, Daniel was after the time of David, however, it shows this truth carried forward to his time.)  Regardless of this, David rejoiced in knowing he would be resurrected when the end came.

He then says that in the presence of God is fullness of joy.  This is not a partial nor imperfect joy, intermingled with pain and sorrow.  This is a joy that completely satisfies the soul not in conjunction with anything that may minimize it.  This is not a joy as we experience here, but an unimaginable joy that will never lessen, nor will it end.  It will not be diminished by the idea we have in this life that all earthly joy must come to an end.  It will be a joy that will be understood as everlasting.  This is the joy we will experience in the next life.  “So, the ransomed of the LORD will return and come with joyful shouting to Zion, And everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, And sorrow and sighing will flee away.”  Isaiah 51:11.

And lastly, David says that in His right hand are pleasures forever.  God’s right hand is the place of honor, where the saints will be throughout eternity.  It denotes that he would be raised up to exalted position; one filled with eternal happiness and exalted honor.  And this happiness will be forever.  This is not happiness as we find here in this life that comes and goes.  We will reside forever in happiness, for there will be nothing that can take it away.

This is the life we look forward to as Christians.  First, we will be raised from the dead to a life that is infinitely different from this one, and God will guide us into this new life, we will be in His presence forever where our joy will be full and never ending, and there will be great pleasure because of our exalted position in Christ.  And this will never end.  What more could we ask for, and what could ever be better than this promise from Him.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Psalm 139:7

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 139:7

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” – Psalm 139:7

What the psalmist David is bringing up here is regarding a place where God is not.   He brings this idea up in the form of two questions.  The first starts with where can I go, and the other starts with where can I flee.  Let look at the which speak of God’s greatness.

God knows everything about us.  “O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down and are intimately acquainted with all my ways.” Psalm 139:1-3.  David is saying here there is nothing God does not know about us.  We cannot hide anything from Him, for as He says, He is ‘intimately’ acquainted with our ways.  There is nowhere we can go where His Spirit is not there as well.  There are many verses which state this.  “Am I a God who is near, declares the LORD, And not a God far off? Can a man hide himself in hiding places, so I do not see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill the heavens and the earth? declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 23:23-24.  “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and the good.” Proverbs 15:3.  And finally what God spoke to Joshua.  “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Continuing with verses prior to our focus.  “Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, you know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high I cannot attain to it.” Psalm 139:4-6. God knows everything we will say or do before we have even thought about it.  His knowledge is so much above us, so thorough, so complete that it is beyond us to understand it let alone attain it.

Our focus verse should give us, who are Christians, great peace and contentment, for it declares there is nowhere He is not.  God loves us beyond our understanding.  “For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” Says the LORD who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10. And because His love for us is infinite, and He knows everything about everything, what can truly harm us?  And if we have an all-powerful, all knowing, and everywhere present God that protects us, why should we ever be afraid?

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Luke 15:10

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Luke 15:10

“In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” – Luke 15:10

This verse is a beautiful picture of how God reacts when anyone repents and becomes saved.  He starts this with a short story of a woman who loses a coin.  “Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?  When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!” Luke 15:8-9.  Now, this is not much money, even at the time of this writing.  The conversion of these ten silver coins were around thirty-seven cents in today’s dollars.  This was not much but it was all she had.  So it was that she lost one-tenth of the money she had, and so she spent time lighting a lamp and searching for it.  When she found it she rejoiced greatly because this was a great portion of what money she had.  This was such a joyous time she invited her friends to celebrate with her. 

This story is very familiar to what is found in a similar set of passages just above this story.  “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!” Luke 15:4-6. 

Now in both stories, we find the same basic statement telling us what this means in our focus verse.  “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  Luke 15:10.  When we truly gave our lives to Christ, there was a great celebration in heaven.  Just as the man who found the lost sheep, and the woman who found the lost coin, there is a great celebration in heaven over a lost soul that has been found. 

It is a principle of human nature that the “recovery” of an object in danger of being lost, affords much more intense joy than the quiet “possession” of many that are safe. This our Savior illustrated by the case of the lost sheep and of the piece of silver. It might also be illustrated by many other things. Thus we rejoice most in our health when we recover from a dangerous disease; we rejoice over a child rescued from danger or disease more than over those who are in health or safety. We rejoice that property is saved from destruction by fire or the tempest more than over much more that has not been in danger. This feeling our Lord represents as existing in heaven. “Likewise,” in like manner, or on the same principle, there is joy.

And this is a result of the great love God has for all of us. He wants us to come to Him, and will go after us to make it happen, but ultimately it is our choice. When we turn from our wicked ways and life by giving it to God because the penalty of our sins is paid for by the death of Christ on the cross, this is a time of great celebration in heaven.  We do not celebrate when something that we find is not loved; often we are glad to lose it.  So it is in heaven, when our soul was saved by our accepting this new life, the celebration is because a life that God loves came to salvation and now will live forever with Him.  This is how much we mean to God.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

James 4:10

Verse of the Day Devotion: James 4:10 

“Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” – James 4:10             

James here, in this passage, is telling the Christians to remain humble before the Lord.  When we either go before God in prayer and praise, or in studying His word, we must remember who we are and who we are going to.  He is God, the Almighty Creator of all things.  We are man, someone whom He created.  This is an infinite gap between us.  All mankind has sinned against Him, from Adam and Eve to us individually.  We have gone against His commands and were destined for eternal punishment. 

But in God’s love and mercy, knowing that we had no possible way of paying the penalty for ourselves, sent His only begotten Son to die in our stead.  For it took a perfect being to earn salvation, however, no one has ever lived this perfect life except for Jesus.  “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2.

Based on these verses, what could be our reason for exalting ourselves before God?  Were we perfect? No.  Did we deal with our own sin?  No. Did we help Him in any way with the process?  Absolutely not.  However, because of the joy set before Him, He endured what we deserved, death.  In tasting death for every man, He is set down at the right hand of the Father, and as the theologian Adam Clarke said in his comment on Hebrews 12:2, “ever appearing in the presence of God for us, and continuing His exhibition of Himself as our sacrifice, and His intercession as our mediator.”  We could do nothing; therefore, He did everything.

One last thing that it is important to remember, as Paul said to the Philippians, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13. What God calls us to do, He works in us to fulfil His will In us.  To think we do it all is a misunderstanding.  We submit to Him and He does a great work through us.  He has a similar statement that he wrote to the Thessalonians.  “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12.  It is God who makes us worthy of His calling on us and will do a great work through us by His power, so that Jesus may be glorified in us, and us in Him.  It is here, in Him working through us, that we are glorified, where we are exalted.

Because He created us, then saved us when we sinned, then works through us to accomplish His will, we have no standing to come before Him in anyway but humbly.  For we are, as Christians, who we are because of Him.  Let us always remember this, so that when we go before God, we come in humility. Our future is set, and we will live forever with Him in glory.  What a great gift along with the others He has already shown us. 

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.