Reflections on Psalm 42...
“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” (Psm.42:5; 11; 43:5).
This verse appears three times in Psalm 42-43 and provides us with a key thought when considering that the Psalm is dealing with overwhelming despair in life. Read it again, and read it again, and soon you will hear the intense pleading that is going on within the Psalmist's own heart. He is earnestly calling his soul away from despair and toward the only satisfying hope and salvation.
Let us not forget though, that these words are not only on the Psalmists lips but are etched in Scripture. It has its origin in God, and therefore this “self-talk” is not simply a “pep-talk” exercise, but it may be better considered to be “faith-talk” since it carries a distinctly God-breathed character.
The circumstances are extreme. The circumstances are overwhelming with no apparent end in sight. While we may not know the precise context of his despair, we start to feel less removed when we hear the repeated taunts, “Where is your God?” (vs.3; 10).
Reflections on Psalm 33 - part 2
As an initial reflection on Psalm 33, we noticed how the ‘heart of worship’ has more to do with the object of our worship than the worshipper. However, the Psalm also helps us consider what it would look like if the worshipper were engulfed in such a reasonable act of praise that their entire being was captivated in a heart response to God.
Once again, what a grace, that we are afforded the use of beautiful instruments to enjoy our worship of God. The Psalm speaks of instruments of praise that include the use of both voice and musical instrument. As to the manner of praise, the Psalmist identifies the need for a “new song” which essentially means freshness in praise as opposed to a new lyric. We must be clear that this has more to do with understanding in praise, intentional intelligible worship, rather than modernity. The worshipper needs to utilise their gifts or abilities as well as their daily renewed minds to praise with passion and exuberance. These components together suggest that worship involves the worshippers whole being, mind, heart and abilities. By extension, worshipping with one’s whole being anticipates what the Psalm further proves, that God is God and worthy of absolute praise.
This may pose to be rather difficult. How do we command our entire being to worship God? Perhaps you have experienced this sense of inauthenticity in praise. You might command your mind to concentrate on the Lord and who he is, but how are we to discipline our hearts to not wander? How do we train our souls to rejoice in all sincerity when we are at our lowest? Let us be clear, the Psalmist is not suggesting that we have some overwhelming emotional display, nor is he telling us to ‘fake’ it.
Reflections on Psalm 33 - part one
The message of Psalm 33 could simply be summarised as the “heart of worship”. A term that many of us may be familiar with, but what is the heart of worship exactly? We could impart any number of sensational definitions based on our own ‘hearts’, but this is not referring to our heart, this is referring to the heart of worship. This heart, as we see in Psalm 33, is one that displays worship as a faith response directed toward God based on who he is and what He has done. This is rather enlightening, since it helps us see that worship is not motivated by the way we feel (our emotional state of being) but about the right response to the absolute majesty of our God.
Consider the opening stanza. The Psalmist doesn’t wait for some pivotal emotive moment but simply says that praise to God is the most fitting and beautiful thing to do. Just as every key is made to fit a particular lock, with its shape and edges corresponding with the locks inner mechanism, so joyful praise fits perfectly as the most appropriate response to the wonder of God; it is the fitting response to who God is and what He has done.
Of course, as we see and understand who God is we may become overwhelmed with emotion and thanks. After recognising who the LORD is and what He has done the entire being of the worshipper should be engulfed in praise. But the motivation is not emotion.
Reflections on Philippians 4:10-19
Contentment simply means “the state of being happy or satisfied” (Webster’s dictionary). However, the question that immediately comes to mind is; “Can one be consistently satisfied or content?” Possibly the simplest analogy in an attempt to understand contentment comes from the daily communal cycle of enjoying a meal. We all understand the sense of satisfaction after enjoying a favorite dish with no desire to eat any more. However, following a few hours or so we discover the nagging sensation of a “grumbling stomach” and the need to satisfy the hunger with yet another meal. Therefore, our daily life routines have been structured around this cycle of contrasting contentment and discontentment. As we have grown to understand experientially that contentment is temporary we also begin to recognize that, with ever changing circumstances, even our moments of satisfaction are dusted with discontent, knowing that it will not last but we will have to go chasing again.
You may be surprised to know that there is a better kind of contentment; one that the Apostle Paul speaks of as persisting despite changing circumstances. In referring to the very basic physical needs of life he says; “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Php.4:11-12).
Ps. Deon Lombard
Being a servant of Jesus makes it a delight to reflect and write about all that God has revealed about Himself in His Word.