The Bible

 

Psalms 43

Study the Inner Meaning

           

1 Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.

2 For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

3 O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.

4 Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.

5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

  

   Study the Inner Meaning

Exploring the Meaning of Psalms 43      

By Rev. Julian Duckworth

Psalm 43 is a short psalm with the theme of turning towards God in times of trouble. It begins with a direct supplication to God: ‘Judge me, O God, and plead my cause’ which leads on to an increasing conviction of the power and truth of God as the psalm ends. Verse 2 has the twofold question we all tend to ask about God in times of trouble, “Why do you cast me off? “Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

The opening words ‘Judge me’ should more accurately say, ‘Judge for me’ or ‘Vindicate me’. This brings out the spiritual meaning of God judging us, because God knows everything about us and the causes of our intentions, many of which we don’t know ourselves. The Lord only ever judges for us, not against us, and even when we have set our heart on evil, the Lord knows it all, and every reason why.

Here, the speaker is sure of his devotion to God even while he experiences the deceits and lies that surround him or fill his thinking. His trust and confidence in the ‘God of my strength’ enables him to consider why his God seems to have cast him off, and seems to have left him in mourning. Spiritually, this brings out the important point that the way we understand God and his ways is of vital help to us. If we do not understand God, we will fall into thinking that God does cast us adrift or has no care for our anguish. When we are equipped with understanding, we see that this is only the appearance to us as far as we are concerned. (Arcana Caelestia 1838)

The middle verse 3 has a powerful statement which breaks through and brings answers to the previous two questions: ‘Send out Your light and Your truth!’ Let them lead me.’ This is all part of the cycle of losing sight of the Lord and coming back into his presence. It is good to notice the number of pairs of words used in this section: ‘light and truth’, ‘hill and tabernacle’, ‘altar and harp’. While paired words are a feature of singing, spiritually, this dualism is about the Lord’s good and the Lord’s truth. For us, Divine good is God and Divine truth is from God for us to see how good is the purpose of everything that God does. (Arcana Caelestia 5194)

The ‘altar’ of God stands for God as Divine good and love. The altar is the centrepiece of our worship and devotion to God. It is also the place of sacrifice and holiness as we give our life to the Lord to use. It is also the seat of mercy and our love and care for others just as the Lord loves and cares for us. (Apocalypse Explained 391.3) The ‘harp’ in the same verse stands for the Lord’s Divine truth which sounds, resonates, harmonises with us, and gives us a form, like music does, to feel the power and beauty of love and good. (Apocalypse Revealed 276)

The psalm ends with a command to us, something which is of great spiritual importance for us, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” This direct command makes a fine close to the psalm, and spiritually it expresses the core of faith, truth, and hope, that whatever our present state, we look towards a renewed sense of the Lord with us, just as He has been in the past. It also touches well on the spiritual idea that we need to compel ourselves to live by the truth we know and not wait for the Lord to act for us. (Divine Providence 129)

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 293


Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 420, 921, 2777, 9481, 9594, 9714

Apocalypse Revealed 276, 392

Heaven and Hell 129


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 323, 372, 391, 405, 412, 799, 866

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

2 Samuel 15:25

Psalms 7:7, 9, 28:7, 42:6, 10, 54:3, 57:4, 8, 9, 63:2, 71:4, 22, 88:15, 140:5

Zechariah 13:9

Bible Word Meanings

judge
It’s easy to see the connection between judging and truth. In a court of law, the judge’s whole purpose is to find the truth. In...

God
When the Bible speaks of "Jehovah," it is representing love itself, the inmost love that is the essence of the Lord. That divine love is...

nation
'A nation,' as in Genesis 21:18, signifies the spiritual church which should receive the good of faith. Nation from afar,' as in Jeremiah 5:17, signifies...

deceitful
The spiritual meaning of being deceitful is pretty close to the literal meaning: According to the Writings it means using false thinking and logic to...

man
The relationship between men and women is deep and nuanced, and one entire book of the Writings – Conjugial Love or Love in Marriage –...

go
In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

enemy
An enemy in the Bible refers to people who are in the love of evil and the false thinking that springs from evil. On a...

send
'To send' signifies revealing.

light
In the Word, “light” in the highest sense represents Divine Truth: knowledge, ideas, understanding that come to us from the Lord. In lesser degrees...

truth
There's a great deal of talk in Swedenborg about "truth" as a concept – it's how we learn the Lord's will, what we must seek...

lead
"Leading" people in the Bible is, in the inner meaning, about leading people in spiritual things, not natural ones. When it talks about the Lord...

bring
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “bring” is highly dependent on context, but in general it represents an introduction to a new...

holy
The Bible describes many things as being holy, or sacred. The Ark of the Covenant is one very holy object. The inmost chamber of the...

hill
The Writings tell us that the Lord's love is the sun of heaven, and it is natural for us to look above ourselves to the...

altar
The first altar mentioned in the Word was built by Noah after he came out of the ark. On that altar, he sacrificed clean animals...

soul
The nature of the soul is a deep and complicated topic, but it can be summarized as "spiritual life," who we are in terms of...

Resources for parents and teachers

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 Keeping in a State of Hope
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

Commentary

 

Exploring the Meaning of Psalms 43

     

By Rev. Julian Duckworth

Psalm 43 is a short psalm with the theme of turning towards God in times of trouble. It begins with a direct supplication to God: ‘Judge me, O God, and plead my cause’ which leads on to an increasing conviction of the power and truth of God as the psalm ends. Verse 2 has the twofold question we all tend to ask about God in times of trouble, “Why do you cast me off? “Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

The opening words ‘Judge me’ should more accurately say, ‘Judge for me’ or ‘Vindicate me’. This brings out the spiritual meaning of God judging us, because God knows everything about us and the causes of our intentions, many of which we don’t know ourselves. The Lord only ever judges for us, not against us, and even when we have set our heart on evil, the Lord knows it all, and every reason why.

Here, the speaker is sure of his devotion to God even while he experiences the deceits and lies that surround him or fill his thinking. His trust and confidence in the ‘God of my strength’ enables him to consider why his God seems to have cast him off, and seems to have left him in mourning. Spiritually, this brings out the important point that the way we understand God and his ways is of vital help to us. If we do not understand God, we will fall into thinking that God does cast us adrift or has no care for our anguish. When we are equipped with understanding, we see that this is only the appearance to us as far as we are concerned. (Arcana Caelestia 1838)

The middle verse 3 has a powerful statement which breaks through and brings answers to the previous two questions: ‘Send out Your light and Your truth!’ Let them lead me.’ This is all part of the cycle of losing sight of the Lord and coming back into his presence. It is good to notice the number of pairs of words used in this section: ‘light and truth’, ‘hill and tabernacle’, ‘altar and harp’. While paired words are a feature of singing, spiritually, this dualism is about the Lord’s good and the Lord’s truth. For us, Divine good is God and Divine truth is from God for us to see how good is the purpose of everything that God does. (Arcana Caelestia 5194)

The ‘altar’ of God stands for God as Divine good and love. The altar is the centrepiece of our worship and devotion to God. It is also the place of sacrifice and holiness as we give our life to the Lord to use. It is also the seat of mercy and our love and care for others just as the Lord loves and cares for us. (Apocalypse Explained 391.3) The ‘harp’ in the same verse stands for the Lord’s Divine truth which sounds, resonates, harmonises with us, and gives us a form, like music does, to feel the power and beauty of love and good. (Apocalypse Revealed 276)

The psalm ends with a command to us, something which is of great spiritual importance for us, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” This direct command makes a fine close to the psalm, and spiritually it expresses the core of faith, truth, and hope, that whatever our present state, we look towards a renewed sense of the Lord with us, just as He has been in the past. It also touches well on the spiritual idea that we need to compel ourselves to live by the truth we know and not wait for the Lord to act for us. (Divine Providence 129)


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