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The Scriptorium

Hold Fast

When your soul is downcast, you have a choice to make. Psalm 43.3, 4

Living toward the End: Psalms 42, 43 (1)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 43.3, 4
Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!
Let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacle.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise You,
O God, my God.

Sing Psalm 43.3, 4
(Hyfrydol: Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners!)
Let Your light and truth precede me, bring me to Your holy hill.
To Your holy altar lead me, let me dwell within Your will.
Lord, my joy and consolation, You, Who grace to me impart,
hear my joyful adoration; I will praise You from the heart.

Read Psalms 42 and 43

Preparation
1. What seems to be the primary concern of these two psalms?

2. Where did rhe psalmists find relief?

Meditation
The writer of the book of Hebrews reminded his backsliding readers that only they who hold firm to Jesus and fast “to the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” will enter the promised land of salvation (Heb. 3.1-6, 14). Paul agreed with the need for perseverance in faith, as he wrote in Philippians 3.7-14, esp. vv. 10, 11). Holding on to faith requires vision, discipline, and obedience, because the challenges and obstacles to faith are many.

The sons of Korah understood this. We will take Psalms 42 and 43 together, even though Psalm 43 is unattributed, because their themes are so similar, and Psalm 43 is sandwiched between two other psalms by this liturgical band of brothers.

In these two psalms, some trouble had come upon the sons of Korah, and they are beset by a sense of spiritual aloneness, even feelings of uncertainty about the state of their soul. These psalms give the impression of one who is looking back on his life. We see this in such phrases as “used to go” (Ps. 42.4), “went with” (Ps. 42.4), “remember” (Ps. 42.6), and “yet” (Pss. 42.11; 43.5). By the time they composed this psalm, the sons of Korah may have completed their service as gatekeepers in the temple. But this did not mean they had gone into “retirement”. They were continuing to serve and continuing to be buffeted by enemies. Thus, they continued to look to God for help, vindication, peace, and joy.

When trials, temptations, or troubles assail, the sons of Korah show us to look up to God, back to His faithfulness, ahead to His promises, then around at whatever is troubling us. If we persevere like this, we will know vindication and redemption, peace and joy, certainty and hope to the end of our days.

Look up, look back, look ahead, look around – hold firm. Only by living from this vantage point will we be able to hold fast our confidence of faith firm to the end.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
As we “look up, look back, look ahead, and look around” we have a choice to make.

Jesus warned and comforted us with His words, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16.33).

Yes, we will have trouble. Jesus promised us we would. Yes, we will sorrow. The sons of Korah did too, and while they did, they wondered: “Why do I go mourning…?” (Ps. 42.9; 43.1) Maybe there is hope?

The choice we have is whether to succumb permanently, or to seek help from God. When we “look up, look back, look ahead, and look around” do we see Jesus the Overcomer? Or do we see only our sadness and grief. Is there hope? Or perpetual darkness?

Let us choose to say with the sons of Korah, “Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your tabernacle.” “Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God” (Ps. 43.3, 5; 42.11).

Hold fast! Help is on the way!

Reflection
1. What does it mean to “hold fast” our confidence, firm to the end?

2. What can cause us to feel downcast in our soul, or separated from God, or that we have lost our way? Why?

3. When we feel shaken in our soul, what must we do? What choice is before us? How can we make sure we make the right choice?

Send your light and overcome my shadows. Send your truth and conquer my lying. Your light and truth lead me to your holy mountain and into your tabernacle. When I draw near, you lead me to the altar of God, where, although old, I become as a youth. Arnobius the Younger (fifth century), Commentary on the Psalms 43

Closing Prayer: Psalm 43.1, 2
Thank God that Jesus stands for your vindication, for the forgiveness of your sins and an assured place in the Presence of God forever! Call on His Presence and strength to guide and empower you for this day.

Psalm 43.1, 2
(Hyfrydol: Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners!)
Vindicate me, Jesus, plead for me! Make my case against my foes.
Rescue me, do not ignore me, God of strength, relieve my woes!
From deceitful men and spirits, from oppression, mourning sore –
heed my prayer, receive and hear it, keep me to You forever more.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to our summary of last week’s study by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore

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