Hope in God!
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!
If Psalm 43 seems strangely familiar, that’s because it is the ending of the psalm we know as Psalm 42. This is clear from the themes as well as the exact echo of 42:11 in 43:5.
In Psalm 43, the writer continues his desperate cry for help even as he wonders why God has tossed him aside (43:2). He anticipates going to the Temple in Jerusalem. At the altar of God, he will be refreshed by God’s presence (43:3-4). The psalm ends by repeating a previous refrain: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!” (43:5).
This translation misses a nuance of the original Hebrew. The verb translated here as “I will put my hope” is actually an imperative, meaning “Hope!” (yachal in the Hiphil). So this verse allows us to listen in as the psalmist talks to himself (literally, his soul). He begins: “Why are you discouraged, my soul? Why are you so sad?” But then he urges himself to redirect his thoughts and emotions: “Hope in God!” In this hope, he looks forward to the time when he will once again praise God his Savior.
Psalm 43:5 dramatizes the inner dialogue of faith. Discouragement and sadness are a normal part of our relationship with God. When we feel such emotions, we would do well to imitate the psalmist, reminding ourselves to put our hope in God. Biblical hope doesn’t deny the pain of the present. Nor is it wishful thinking. Rather, true hope is “in God,” in the one who is fully, and finally, reliable.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you ever had an inner dialogue like that of Psalm 43:5? What helps you to hope in God?
PRAYER: Gracious Lord, first of all, I thank you for the honesty and realism of this psalm. There are times in my relationship with you when I feel discouraged and downhearted. Thus I can relate to what the psalmist is feeling here, and I’m grateful for this connection.
Help me, dear Lord, to hope in you. When circumstances feel overwhelming, when I wonder how things will turn out, may I put my full confidence in you and you alone.
All praise be to you, O Lord, because you are my Hope, my Savior, my God. Amen.