On Sunday mornings, in Sunday Sunday, I let the kids do the same thing every week, pick the text for the lesson. Usually this consist of picking a page number of a book of the Bible, but its always random. The reason we do this is because I want them to see that NO MATTER what part of scripture they read there is always something God can reveal to you about who we are and who He is. Yesterday we looked at Psalms 43. It reads like this
1Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?
3 Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.
5 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.
Verse One: The Psalmist enemies are ungodly, deceitful and unjust. The Psalmist sees this and wonders not only why God allows these things but why God has/is allowing them to hurt him. The Psalmist seems to feel abandoned by God in his moment of greatest need.
As we read this Sunday morning one students said, “Wow thats honest!” When they said this it hit me that we really are not used to that type of honest. We apparently don’t think we can be honest with God (even though he ALREADY KNOWS YOUR HEART). The psalmist however knows that God knows his thoughts and actions. He discloses to God what God already knows. In short, he confesses.
Verse Two: The psalmist confirms what seems to be true in verse one. He, for a moment, accuses God for rejecting him even thought he has “taken refuge” in Him. We need to take note of these because of what we later read in verse 5. The psalmist has the classic case of “church goer”. He thinks that because he has sought after God, God owes him.
Verse Three: The psalmist direction starts to change in verse three when he asked God to guild him. He knows that without God guiding him he will continue to be lost. However, by seeking out God he knows that God will be faithful to bring him to “Your holy hill”
Verse Four: We continue to see the psalmist heart change direction in verse four. After asking God to guild him we now see that the psalmist points to his “exceeding joy”. The psalmist makes it clear that God is his joy.
We need to see here that there is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is temporary and circumstantial. The psalmist is obviously not happy, but does know where joy comes from. Understanding this joy is central to why the psalmist worships.
Verse Five: What we see in verse five is the culmination of verse 1 thru 4. We see that the psalmist feels abandoned from God because of his enemies (v 1&2), he then seeks God’s guidance (v 3) and then remembers that his joy isn’t in anything but God and worships God in sight of this (v 4). His worship then directs him toward understanding his circumstances in light of who God is.
He ends the psalm by understanding that joy is not found in whether his enemies surround him or not, but in the fact that God is his salvation and hope.
Psalm 43 is a beautiful picture of how easily our hearts are disobedient but God reminds us that He is our joy. It also shows us that as Christians we should seek joy not happiness. Happiness is always circumstantial, joy either exist or doesn’t. Joy is either found in God or isn’t.
To give an example of this look at any situation where a horrible tragedy has occurred. I have been in rooms where there was not happiness, nor should there have been. But there was a joy present in the room that couldn’t be explained. I have only ever experienced this in places where those who follow Jesus are. Only in those places can we be joyful because even in the pain we know where our joy comes from.
Today ask yourself the question, “Do I seek happiness in things or joy in Jesus?”