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Why Do You Despair (reprise)

“Why do you despair, my soul?

And why do you groan?

In regards to me you must hope in God,

Because again I will confess him—

Salvation is before me by my God.”

(Psalm 42:12 [verse 11 in English translations])

 

Once again we find the psalmist echoing the words of his soul’s despair. The Hebrew word used here literally means to melt away or to dissolve. Indeed, how it seems that our spirit does tend to melt away within us—to fade into nothingness—when the world seems to bear down against us. How easily most of us are discouraged when things seem to be falling apart around us, yet, like the psalmist, we must ask, in whom do we hope?

If our hope is in God, why then do we complain and worry? Is he not the creator of the universe and has he not said that he will provide all of our needs? What then is there left to worry and gripe about? Our ills have no power of him. Worldly powers cannot sway or God to cease believing in himself or to cease existing. No, God is and he will always be—and he will always care for his own. What then is left to fear? Are not all of our worries irrational? Indeed, beloved, place your hope in Him, for He will deliver you from the second death.

But notice what the psalmist connects with the idea of hope—confession. The term that is employed here is the word, hådÎy (yadah). This word is often translated as “to praise,” which is one of the senses of the term, but the idea that is conveyed is that we are praising God publicly by our public confession of his glorious name and wonderful works. Indeed, we are to believe in our hearts and confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9) if we are to be saved. How often confessing Christians have bought into the lie that their faith is a personal thing and thus never praise God through their living and ongoing profession of his name. Indeed, the faith by which we walk in the world is a clear testimony that he lives and rules over our days.

This psalm closes with the great and glorious reminder that salvation comes from God and from God alone. Loved ones, there are many in this world who would suggest that they can offer you salvation. There are none, though, other than Jesus Christ who has risen from the grave and has thus promised that he will do the same for those who trust in him as Lord and Savior.

Praise the Rock of our salvation!
Praise the mighty God above!
Come before His sacred presence
With a grateful song of love.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
He is God, and He alone.
Wake the song of adoration—
Come with joy before His throne!

-Fanny Crosby

 

 

Why Do You Despair, Oh My Soul?

“Why do you despair, my soul, and groan?

In Regards to me, you must hope on God,

for again I will confess him—

Salvation is before him.”

(Psalm 42:6 [verse 5 in English translations])

 

What is your attitude when things start going bad and our plans fall apart? Is your first response to groan in despair? Is your first inclination to lament your misfortune? Yet, is not God in control? Does he not reign from on high in the heavens? Is not God the one who orders all things according to the counsels of his will (Ephesians 1:11)? Doesn’t our God own the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10)? And does he not care for his children more than the birds of the air (Matthew 6:26)? How often our lives are marked by worry, groaning, fear, and complaint.

The psalmist is reminding us that such is not to be the mark of our life. He is looking inward and saying to himself, “Why am I griping—why do I despair—do I not belong to God?” And indeed, we do belong to God if we are trusting in Christ as our Lord and Savior, so why do we despair? Why should we worry? It is the lot of the unbeliever to worry, but not of the one who is held in the hand of the almighty God of the universe. He has promised us salvation and he has promised us that he will work all of the events in our life out for good (Romans 8:28).

Thus, Christian, with the Psalmist, I call you to wait on God, trust him to work out the events of your life. When the way before you is dark and unclear, know that he is ordering your steps and will guide you; you shall not stumble and fall while resting in Him. And know, too, that salvation comes with him and with him alone—there is no other name by which man can be saved than by the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). And if this great promise belongs to us in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20), then where is there room to gripe and groan, oh, my soul?

Call Jehovah thy salvation, rest beneath th’Almighty’s shade.
In His secret habitation dwell, and never be dismayed.
There no tumult shall alarm thee, thou shalt dread no hidden snare.

Guile nor violence can harm thee, in eternal safeguard there.

-James Montgomery