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 39:7

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 39:7  

“And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.” – Psalm 39:7 

This is another psalm of David.  He starts in verse one by saying he will watch out how he speaks to his enemies.  “I said, I will guard my ways That I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle While the wicked are in my presence. I was mute and silent, I refrained even from good, And my sorrow grew worse.” Psalm 39:1-2.  He chooses to be careful in what he says to his enemies.  Not necessarily because of their reactions, but because he did not want to sin because of his words and actions.  Then in verse three he alludes to the feelings of anger and intense excitement of his emotions that came upon him.  “My heart was hot within me, While I was musing the fire burned; Then I spoke with my tongue” Psalm 39:3.  His emotions were rising within him, endeavoring to come out. 

In this situation, it seems David wearied of his life.  In verses 4-6, he is looking at the brevity, or shortness of life here on earth.  First, he asks God how long must he stay here. “LORD, make me to know my end And what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am.” Psalm 39:4.  Then he says that our lives are short, which is the idea of handbreadth, speaking of the short span when our four fingers are spread apart.  God is eternal, and his short life is nothing in comparison.  Then he adds that compared to eternity our lives are like a single breath.  “Surely every man walks about as a phantom; Surely they make an uproar for nothing; He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them.”  Psalm 39:6.  And because of this, our lives are vain as we amass riches and wealth, but in a short time we die and have it no more.”

And so, because life is short, we come to our focus verse.  “And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.” Psalm 39:7.  He in essence is saying, in this life, I will place my reliance in you and what you bring about and make happen.  It is not the world he must rely on, or his own means, for it is not in his power to solve the mysteries in this life, and in reality he knows he does not have the wisdom or knowledge to make a positive difference.  And neither do we.  The theologian Albert Barnes in his commentary on psalms puts it this way.  “it is in the God that made all, the Ruler over all, that can control all, and that can accomplish His own great purposes in connection even with these moving shadows, and that can confer on man thus vain in himself and in his pursuits that which will be valuable and permanent.” We can do nothing; we must rely on God to do everything.  We must not contemplate on what the world can do to meet our needs, desires, or in bringing of peace to us.  We must rely on God in all things.  For only then can we find ourselves content, for He alone can bring it to us and help us through.  The world can only fail in this goal and exacerbate the issue.  God loves us, He is always with us.  And He will help us.  “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace  Because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3.

I encourage everyone reading this to trust completely in God who can do everything and loves us with an unending love.  We may feel helpless, however, we have nothing to be concerned about, because, He has this.

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

Psalm 27:14

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 27:14 

“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” – Psalm 27:14 

This idea is found throughout scripture, both in the old and new testaments.  Throughout the scriptures, we see examples of how God has promised and fulfilled all that He has said.  Here the psalmist is saying there is no reason for us to fear.  He may not come to us when we would like, but he tells us to wait patiently anyway. 

We must always remember He is with us and by our side.  Isaiah puts it this way.  “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:28-31. God does not ever grow weary, and if we grow weary, He will renew our strength.  Also, when we do grow tired and do not see a way out, we tend to become afraid.  Isaiah speaks to this as well.  “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely, I will help you, Surely, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10.

As I said earlier, He may not come as quickly as we would like, or even as we would like.  Sometimes we desire Him to do things in a way that will make things easier for us.  Then, we look for things to happen as we would like them to.  However, we must always remember that He knows infinitely more than we can ever understand.  He knows all things that have happened, is currently happening, and will ever happen.  Again, Isaiah puts it better than I ever could.  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9. 

Could it be that what God allows to happen is for our best, and what we believe is best is actually not?  I think this happens more times than we want to admit.  Let’s look at one of my favorite passages in all of scriptures, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.   So, this begs the question, and I have asked myself this on several occasions.  Do I want what I think is best, or what God thinks is best?  I have decided after many situations that the latter is far superior to the former. 

And one last thing.  Maybe these times are not necessarily for us.  Maybe, He wants to train us for a future ministry opportunity He has for us.  Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 1 Corinthians 1:3-4

Therefore, when we go through trials and difficult situations, be strong and wait patiently for His help.  He knows better than us what we need, and when best to come to us.  We do not know what He has in store for us through this.  But if we can learn from God how to comfort those who suffer in the same way we have in the past, is it not worth it so we can provide comfort to them?   

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

Isaiah 40:31

Verse of the Day Devotion: Isaiah 40:31 

“Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” – Isaiah 40:31   

Chapter 40 of Isaiah is a chapter of comfort for God’s people.   The reason this comfort was necessary was due to a meeting King Hezekiah had with Merodach-Baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon; followed by the prophecy given by Isaiah.  Hezekiah gives Baladan a tour of his place.  “Hezekiah was pleased, and showed them all his treasure house, the silver and the gold and the spices and the precious oil and his whole armory and all that was found in his treasuries. There was nothing in his house nor in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them.” Isaiah 39:2.  Hezekiah showed Baladan everything he could, including all their treasures and the spices and precious oils, plus the armory where all the weapons were stored. 

This was not a good idea because it let Baladan know how they could profit if they took Israel, and Isaiah points this point to Hezekiah.  “Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah and said to him, what did these men say, and from where have they come to you?  And Hezekiah said, they have come to me from a far country, from Babylon.  He said, “What have they seen in your house?  So Hezekiah answered, They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasuries that I have not shown them.” Isaiah 39:3-4.  Isaiah then declares the prophecy.  “Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day will be carried to Babylon; nothing will be left, says the LORD. And some of your sons who will issue from you, whom you will beget, will be taken away, and they will become officials in the palace of the king of Babylon.” Isaiah 39:6-7.

This prophecy from Isaiah no doubt caused distress withing Israel.  Therefore, God calls for Isaiah to bring comfort to Israel.  “Comfort, O comfort My people, says your God. Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received of the LORD’S hand Double for all her sins ” Isaiah 40:1-2.  Israel’s warfare has been completed and her iniquities have been removed.  She will, at this time, be at peace.  However, Israel feels that God has left them.  “Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, My way is hidden from the LORD, And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power.” Isaiah 40:27-29.  He is pointing out that God is always seeing them, He does not become weary and His understanding is assured.  He knows what they are going through and gives them the strength they need.

He then tells them even though the strongest and most fit young men become tired in their labor, and those selected as the bravest, and most vigorous and manly become weary in their duties, “Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31.  God is not contingent on anything.  He does not grow tired or find Himself in a position where He cannot do something like man does.  But those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength.  To wait on the Lord is to have complete dependence on God, knowing He will come through to deliver them, and to admit that help can come from nowhere else but Him. 

And those who wait on Him will renew their strength; physical, emotional, and mental.  God will give them the strength they need; therefore, they can be free like an eagle who has molted its old feathers and have grown healthy new one.  They will have the endurance to do what He has prepared them to do.  However, only if they wait on God.

And it is the same for us.  If we encounter a situation that is difficult and wonder how we will make it through, we should simply give it to God and wait for Him, who is faithful to bring us through.  We can do our part, essentially those things we can do, but let God guide us through to victory.  It does no good to stress about things we cannot resolve.  By giving it to God, we can be at peace as He brings us through to a good end.

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

Romans 8:25

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 8:25 

“But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” – Romans 8:25     

Paul here is building upon the idea expressed in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1.  This verse lays out the definition of faith we see throughout the New Testament.  Paul now speaks of hope declared in the above verse.  Hope signifies the expectation of some future good.  Not something that has already happened or is occurring right now.  In this context it is something that we are sure will happen, and we are comfortable that we will, at some point, receive it.

So, by definition then, we hope only for those things we do not see.  And when we put it together with Hebrews 11:1 we see how faith and hope work together.  Hope is the expectation of a future good.  Faith goes beyond expectation and is, as the writer of Hebrews states, the substance or reality of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not yet seen.  The fact that God exists and that He has created all there is, and that we have a relationship with Him, is the substance of our expectations.  We hope for things in the future because of what has happened previously. 

Back to Romans 8, we see in the verse just prior to our focus verse the following, “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?” Romans 8:24.  We are saved in hope because we do not see all that our salvation entails.  Yes, we see our life changed, how our focus becomes Christ and not ourselves.  We understand that our sins are forgiven, and we are united with Christ. We see these present changes in us.  However, there is more yet to be revealed.  There is the second coming of Christ where He comes to bring an end to this world as it is now.  And there is the new heaven and earth which replaces what now exists with a perfect existence where we will live with God forever.  These are things not yet seen, these are some of the things we ‘hope’ for.

Therefore, with all this said, we hope for many things that are not visible now.  And we have faith that these things will happen because of all God has done up to this day.  And if we hope for these things, we will persevere and stand against anything that attempts to convince us otherwise.  We will wait eagerly for it because our future, eternal life will be so much better than what we have now.  We should live our lives now, fulfilling the calling God has placed on us, to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:19-20.  But we should also look forward to what we know is coming, as the verse says, waiting eagerly with perseverance. 

It is important to never forget or push aside that which we hope for.  It is part of our amazing eternal life promised us by God, and it is through this perseverance that we remain strong and devoted to our Lord.  What He has promised, He will fulfill.  In this we can have confidence.  On this is our foundation that helps us stand firm.

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