As you may have read yesterday, it is believed that this Psalm was originally either part of the previous one or written as an appendix to Psalm 45. They probably parted company around 200 years before the birth of Jesus when the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew to Greek.
We do not know who the author was but believe that he may have been a hostage taken by an enemy of the Israelites. It has been suggested that it could have been when King Jehoash took captives from Jerusalem to the mountain of Hermon in Israel (2Kings 14:14)
The Psalmist is appealing to God concerning his treatment by his enemies. During the course of it, he refers to God as judge, strength, guide and hope. He urges God to act on his behalf both to vindicate and rescue. He looks forward to a time when he will again be able to visit God’s altar and praise Him.
Verse 5 is the second exact repeat (the earlier two are found in Psalm 42) of:
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God.”
It’s a bit like when we give ourselves a talking to for failing to do something or getting something wrong. (Perhaps you don’t, but I do!) “Come on, come on” we say, “why are you feeling like this: things will get better”. We know somewhere deep within us that there will be a time to praise Him again.
At the end of St Matthew’s gospel, Jesus makes a promise that is as true today as when He made it:
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
God can take our complaining about our situations and our urging Him to act on our behalf, in fact as a good father: he encourages us to tell it like it is. He can also take our anger and our honesty that we are frankly finding our present situation impossible to bear. We don’t need to filter out any of our more powerful feelings because He knows before we say anything, what is on our minds. Our psalmist looks forward to a time when he can go to a physical place where he will feel God’s presence. We have God’s presence through His Holy Spirit everywhere and all of the time. That should remind us to worship, whatever else is happening.
Thank you, Lord, for being with me in every circumstance of my life. Help me today to remember to worship even when my soul is downcast. Amen.