Hope in God! Psalm 42:11

Text: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me?  Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, Who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”

Psalm 42:11.

Good morning, temporarily ‘cast down’ Christian!  When you awoke this morning, you awoke in what John Bunyan, in his great allegory Pilgrim’s Progress, called ‘the slough of despond’; a dark depression of the soul; a deep sadness of spirit – the result of any number of circumstances that presently seem to surround you with gloom and a sense of impending doom and failure.  If this describes your present mood as you commence this Bible Lesson, please continue reading: for, if you are born again of the Spirit of God, then there is an ever-given new hope prepared here for you personally.  ‘Hope in God!’  Hallelujah!

Verse 11. “Hope. Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey towards it, casts the shadow of our burden behind it.”  (Samuel Smiles 1812-1904)

Spiritual hope, on the other hand, not only ‘casts the shadow of our burdens behind it...’, but causes us to regain our composure and reflect once more on our Eternal Standing in our dear Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Praise and all glory to His Holy Name! He IS our HOPE!

“Therefore (a conclusion) being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by Whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in HOPE of the glory of God...and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.  For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:1-6)

Verse 11. “WHY art thou cast down, O my soul?  And why art thou disquieted within me? If you and I are feeling ‘cast down’, depressed in spirit; somewhat tired and disillusioned by some aspect of the circumstances of our present lives, or through the actions, words, or contentions of another – let us ask ourselves the two questions featured in Psalm 42, and verse 11.

Are we feeling this depression because we have sinned against the Holy Lord God, and against His will, as revealed in His written and Spirit-inspired Word?  If so, the Lord already knows the reason for our grief of spirit – our human spirit is grieved because the Spirit of God living within our ‘born again’ souls is grieved by the presence of committed sin.  Fact!

So, what is to be done in order to put things right again with the Lord God, and to ‘...renew a right spirit within...’ us?  (Psalm 51:10)  

Repentance from known sin, and open confession of that sin to the Lord God alone, is the only remedy for this Spiritual ailment.  We have God’s own Word on this vital issue: “If we say we that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins (to God alone!), He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1:8-9)

Are we feeling this depression of spirit due to having offended a brother or a sister in Christ?  Then, the Word of God promises a sure remedy for this also: “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar (prayer time), and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”  (Matthew 5:23-24)  

United we stand, divided we fall!  This principle is true in all aspects of human life.  Moreso in the Spiritual Body of Christ.  Together we stand strong in Christ!

Is our feelings of being ‘cast down’ due to the spiritual oppression of the world, the flesh, or the Devil, as the Psalmist previously stated in verse 9 of this same Psalm?  Then begin to better realise that such ‘oppressions’, if looked at from a more positive Spiritual aspect, are come upon us as a direct consequences of the fact that our witness and testimony of Christ’s saving grace; our daily and consistent ministries for Christ and His Kingdom; the constant Spiritual warfare that you and I are enabled of the Lord to fulfil in His Name – are doing great harm to Satan and his vile kingdom!  Therefore, the evil one is seeking to strike back with all the ‘oppositions’ possible to him in his limited power as a defeated enemy!

Any professing, born again, Bible-believing Christian who does not suffer from such worldly, fleshy, and Satanic oppressions – is not really engaged in the Spiritual Battle!

Verse 11.”...Hope thou in God. When you and I who are oppressed in our Christian lives come to realise that such oppressions only come upon those of us that are militant and faithful in Christ’s service – we  further realise that Christ has already defeated Satan, the world, the flesh and all other ungodly contenders at the place called Calvary, or Golgotha’s Hill! 

Therefore our vision is renewed, our hope is replenished, and placed in that same Lord God Who has not only saved us by Christ’s Atonement Sacrifice, but promised to KEEP us by the power of His Almighty and infallible strength!  Hallelujah!  Nothing can pluck us from His hand!  We are forever victorious over all depression and oppression that comes!  Glory to the Lamb that was slain, and now lives victorious forever!  Hallelujah!  Jesus Lives!

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?... Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.  For I am persuaded (given new hope!), that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature (including ourselves!), shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:35-39)

Verse 11. “...For I shall yet praise Him, Who is the health of my countenance, and my God.  Note the progression in this verse.  It commences with dark feelings of soul-depression; progresses to deep questionings to find the reason for such oppressions; and ends with the determination to put all our most profound hope in God and in the grace of His Face shining upon us.

What begins in this vital Scripture verse as honest self-examination, ends in renewal of Christian hope and Eternal assurance – and all this progression clearly proven by the authority of God’s written Word.  What a Salvation we have in Christ Jesus!  Praise His Name!

Hear anew His promise to us, ‘His people’.  Be renewed in victorious hope!

“Fear thou not; for I AM (Jehovah Lord God) with thee: be not dismayed; for I AM thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness.”  (Isaiah 41:10)

Thought: “...Weeping may endure for a night...joy cometh in the morning...” Hope in God!  His Almighty help is only a prayer away.  The Lord lift you up, beloved in Him.

Praying Mid Persecution Psalm 42:9-10

Text: “I will say unto God my Rock, Why hast Thou forgotten me?  Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?  As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?”

Psalm 42:9-10.

Good morning, cruelly persecuted Christian!  In this 21st Century day of increased apostasy and an ever more blatant  and undisguised public practice of anti-Christianity – all who would forthrightly serve King Jesus Christ, especially in public witness and testimony to His Gospel of saving grace, are coming under the vilest of widespread persecution.  Fact!

Praise God!  What a privilege to be chosen for such persecution and slander from the Devil’s children worldwide!  Because, to be thus persecuted by anti-Christian foes, is to prove for all to see that you and I are indeed ‘set apart’ by God as ‘His people’, and chosen in the furnace of such afflictions.  The persecution of us by Christ’s enemies, only proves to us - once and for all time - that we are indeed, the true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are the SAVED!  Hallelujah!  We have life Eternal in the risen Christ Jesus!  Glory to His Name!

“Behold (look, and more fully understand!), I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.  For Mine own sake, even for Mine own sake, will I do it: for how should My Name be polluted?  And I will not give My glory unto another.  Hearken unto Me, O Jacob (the elect remnant Jews) and Israel (true Spiritual Israel, born again Christians), My called; I am He; I am the first, I also am the last.”  (Isaiah 48:10-12)

Affliction in this life serves many Divine purposes; and many of us would not begin to learn the vital Spiritual lessons the Lord is seeking to teach us, were the tuition not accompanied by often seemingly harsh daily afflictions.  Afflictions focus our minds on the Lord!

Chastening for Sin:  The Scriptures teach us clearly that Spiritually regenerate children of God, ‘born again’ in Christ Jesus; through the Spiritual regeneration of God the Holy Ghost – are chastened by God when we fall into, or in too frequent cases, RUN headlong into sin!  Sin is the leprosy that is within the veins of all humankind – the consequence of Adam/Eve’s fall from grace in Eden’s Garden.  We are all natural born sinners, and sin we shall, daily.  This self-honesty is a God-given revelation, and without knowing that we are indeed continually blighted by, and prone to commit, sin – we can never seek to be delivered and saved from it!  Fact!  (2 Corinthians 13:5)

It is God, the Holy Spirit’s first ministry to our souls when He convicts/convinces us of our inherent and committed sin:

“And when He (the Comforter, God the Holy Spirit) is come, He will reprove the world (the unsaved sinner) of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement: of sin because they believe not on Me (the Lord Jesus Christ); of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more; of judgement, because this prince of this world (Satan) is judged.”                    (John 16:8-10)

Our Holy Lord God detests all sin – and must punish all sin – that is why ‘His people’ are chastened when we are disobedient to Him and commit sin against His Commandments.  God’s Holy Spirit will not live easily in a heart committing sin!

However, being chastised by God the Father for our sin, when looked at from a positive position, goes to prove to us that we are indeed true Spiritual children of our Holy and Heavenly Father!  A father only chastises his own genuine sons and daughters!

“For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son/daughter whom He receiveth.  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons/daughters; for what son/daughter is he/she whom the father chasteneth not?  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons/daughters.”  (Hebrews 12:6-8)

Persecution from the World:  If a man/woman is professing to be a genuine, Spiritually regenerate, Bible-believing Christian, they will be ‘hated’ by those that are not ‘born again’ into the Family of God.  Fact!  We have God’s own Word on this important matter:

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me (the Lord Jesus Christ) before it hated you.  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: BUT because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore (a conclusion) the world hateth you.”  (John 15:18-19)

If, as true Christians, we are playing the coward in the presence of the unsaved world, then we can seek to hide our Christian witness in the presence of the unsaved – but think not that we can go without God’s chastening as a consequence!  God detests Spiritual cowards!

Silence is not always golden – sometimes it is just plain YELLOW!  Speak up for Christ!  Christ is speaking up continually at God’s throne for you and me!

“Ye are the salt of the earth (Spiritual Christians); but if the salt have lost his/her savour, wherewith shall it be salted?  It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.  Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick: and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”  (Matthew 5:13-16)

Wait long enough, and the unsaved world will seek to hinder and persecute the genuine Christian witness.  Light will not mix with darkness.  Oil and water will not successfully bond together.  ‘Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord!’

Verse 9. “Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?  It is a pitiable thing for any man/woman to have a limb amputated, but when we know that the operation was needful to save life, we are glad to hear that it has been successfully performed; even thus as trial unfolds, the design of the Lord in sending it becomes far more easy to bear.  (C.H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, page 206)

Opposition and persecutions from the unsaved prove to us that we are God-redeemed!

Verse 10. “While they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?  Such was the malice of David’s foes, that having thought of the cruel question, they said it, said it daily, repeated it to him, and that for a length of time; surely the continual yapping of these curs at his heel was enough to madden him, and perhaps would have done so had he not resorted to prayer and made the persecutions of his enemies a plea with his Lord.”  (C.H. Spurgeon)

Thought:  David’s God was right there in his heart.  The world just couldn’t see Him!

“Oh My God!”: A Privileged Expression! Psalm 42:6-8

Text: “Thou shalt NOT take then Name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him/her guiltless that taketh His Name in vain.”

Exodus 20:7.

Good morning, privileged Christian!  Like the author of these Bible Lessons, you are a natural born sinner. fact!  There is not a day goes by in which you and I are free from sin; not a day that is devoid of failings, falterings, doubtings and bouts of gross unbelief and mistrust of God’s grace.  It takes deep inner honesty for a true Christian to openly admit this fact of our inherent sinful nature and our frequent tendency to indulge it, day by day. 

We can never ‘...grow in grace...’ if we do not first openly acknowledge our need of it continually.  Self-honesty concerning our sinful nature, is the first step to deeper sanctification in Christ and, when acknowledged, a more mature walk with the Lord.

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me (I know what I should do/say/think/act and am willing to behave in this manner); but how to perform that which is good (having the power to do good) I find not.”  (Romans 7:18)

The apostle Paul is here, in the book of Romans, expressing his deep desire to do and be ‘good’, yet his complete lack of power to perform that ‘good’.  His conclusion is one arrived at by a maturing Christian, one who is being tried and tested for service, and is honestly recognising the weaknesses of his own naturally sinful nature. 

Having come to this honest self-evaluation, Paul is now ready to confess his sins; receive a new filling of God the Holy Ghost, enabling him to better serve the risen Christ Jesus.  Paul’s example is a sound one for you and I to follow in our journey towards a more mature Christian walk/service with Christ Jesus.  (1 John 1:7-10)

“I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.  For I delight in the law of God after the inward man (the new born again nature): but I see another law in my members (his old carnal nature), warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  O wretched man that I am! (self-acknowledgement of his sinful state).  Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  (the second death and separation from God because of sin)?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (He alone can save us from our sin.)...”  (Romans 7:21-25)

For younger Christian believers in particular, the key to coping with the problem of retaining our old carnally sinful nature, AFTER we are Spiritually regenerated (saved), lies in verse seven of the first epistle of John, chapter one:

“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth (cleanses and continues to cleanse) us from ALL sin.”  (1 John 1:7)

For the genuine, born again, Bible-believing Christian – the sin question has been nailed to the Cross of Christ Jesus our Redeemer King – ALL our sins – past, present, and future sins – were placed upon our dear Saviour then, and He took the blame and punishment for every one of them for us, ‘His people’.  Hallelujah!

 In our STANDING before God, our sins have all been dealt with, once for all time.  Wow!   What a Saviour!  What a gracious Father we have!  Praise His Holy Name!

Knowing that we are still, and often wilfully, connected to the commission of sin, keeps us humble before our Holy Lord God, yet shows us how utterly ‘privileged’ we are to be even permitted to say with the Psalmist ‘O my God...’; to be able to mention the awesome Name of our Creator Lord God without being consumed in an instant by His sheer Holiness!

Verse 6. “My God. Astonishing expression! Who shall dare to say to the Creator of the ends of the earth, the Majesty in the Heavens, ‘My God’?  An exile, a wanderer, an outcast; a man forsaken, despised, reviled; a soul cast down and disquieted: he shall dare.  By what right?  Of Covenant. (Contract between God and ‘His people’.)”  (Henry March 1839)

“And she (Mary) shall bring forth a Son, and thou (Joseph) shalt call His Name JESUS: for He shall save HIS PEOPLE (not all people!) from their sins.”  (Matthew 1:21)

To be empowered, by God’s Sovereign grace, to enter into close fellowship with the Almighty Lord God and Creator of all things is the highest privilege a mere sinner can have.  This is the Divine privilege you and I have been graciously given, and all made possible through the willing Sacrifice of God the Son, Jesus Christ.  Salvation is found only in Him.

“Neither is there Salvation in any other: for there is none other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”  (Acts 4:12)

Privileged sinners, after we are saved by God’s grace, are always sorely tested by Him – to make us stronger in faith and Christian experience in life.  We are engaged in a vicious Spiritual Battle, and called to be ‘good soldiers’ in the army of Christ Jesus, which is the true and genuine Church worldwide and universal.  Only the Spiritually regenerate are thus tested for Spiritual warfare in the service of King Jesus.  Often the testing can be severe indeed.

Verse 7. “...All Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over me. Atlantic rollers, sweeping in ceaseless succession over one’s head, waterspouts coming nearer and nearer, and all the ocean in uproar around the weary swimmer; most of the heirs of Heaven can realize the description, for they have experienced the like (in Spiritual testing).  This is a deep experience unknown to babes in grace, but common enough to such as do business (the King’s business) on great waters of affliction: to such it is some comfort to remember that the waves and billows are the Lord’s.  “Thy waves and Thy billows,” says David, “they are all sent and directed by Him, and achieve His designs, and the child of God, knowing this, is the more resigned.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 206)

Verse 8. “Yet the Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime. No day shall ever dawn on an heir of grace and find him/her altogether forsaken of his/her Lord: the Lord reigneth, and as a Sovereign He will with authority command mercy to be reserved for His chosen.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 206)

Thought: The only person that can legitimately exclaim, ‘O my God!’ is one who has been Redeemed by Christ’s Blood, and entitled to cry, ‘Abba, Father’!  All others commit serious sin!  ‘Thou shalt NOT take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain!’

Self-Reasoning: A wise Practice Psalm 42:5

Text: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?  And why art thou disquieted within me?  Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of is countenance.”

Psalm 42:5.

Good morning, self-reasoning Christian!  Seeking to be obedient in every way to the Living Lord God Who has redeemed your never-dying soul by the precious Blood of His Son, Jesus Christ – you seek to study His Word, gain knowledge of how to practice your God-given faith; and have found the wisdom of sincere self-reasoning.  You do well, Christian.  You do very well.  The Lord God is pleased with His children when we seek to be obedient to His Word.

In verse five of Psalm forty-two, we find the Spirit-inspired Psalmist in a session of sincere reasoning with his own down-cast soul.  The Lord teaches us in various Scriptures, that such self-reasoning is a profitable practice; He even encourages us to ‘reason together’ with Himself!

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.  If ye be willing and obedient ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”    (Isaiah 1:18-20)

It follows therefore, that, if the Lord encourages us to come and reason things out with Himself – it is certainly a good practice also to reason things out with our own soul in times of depression of spirit, or feelings of being down-cast in our very souls.  This is what we find the Psalmist doing in our Bible reading for today.

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul?  And why art thou disquieted within me?  Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.”   (Psalm 42:5)

Using what we have called one’s ‘sanctified imagination’ therefore, we can begin to imagine what the Psalmist is seeking to do with this concept of self-reasoning.  He is asking himself the difficult questions in order to gain the deep and powerful answers he needs if he is to overcome the down-cast feelings deep in his soul.  Let us imagine for ourselves, therefore, what could be the reason for the Psalmist experiencing such down-cast feelings?

1. Sin:  Nine times out of every ten, the reason for regenerate Christians feeling depressed or down-cast is down to sin.  When the Christian engages in sin, or is engaged by sin – his/her born again spirit feels the pangs of depression and grief.  Fact.  If one is professing to be a child of a Holy Lord God and can engage in, or be engaged by sin, without feeling such deep inner grief – then I must question that person’s experience of Eternal Salvation in Christ.

Everything in Eden’s Garden was wonderful, peaceful, joyful, and innocent until SIN entered.  When sin entered into the hearts of our progenitors – Adam and Eve – and they began to listen to, and receive, the temptations of the Evil Serpent, Satan, it all suddenly began to go wrong.  Thistles began to grow among the flowers; lions began to eat instead of play with lambs; illness and disease came into being, and pain was felt by God’s Creation.

God is a Holy Lord God of wrath against all sin – He MUST punish all sin with His curse and Divine rebuke.                         

“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as He which hath called you is Holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (entire lifestyle); because it is written, Be ye holy for I am Holy.”  (1 Peter 1:13-16)

2. Disobedience: Disobedience to the revealed Commandments and will of the Lord God will bring immediate grief of God the Holy Spirit within the hearts of true believers in Christ.  If one does not feel that deep inner grief of God the Holy Spirit when disobedient, then it is proof positive that God the Holy Spirit does not dwell within that human heart.  We have an old saying here in Protestant Northern Ireland, UK, ‘You can’t live in Rome and fight with the pope!’  Meaning: we cannot engage in sin without the Holy Spirit feeling grieved within us, and that profound inner grief of God the Spirit should drive us into a period of self-reasoning – to discover what it is that we are doing, saying, practicing, that is sinful in the eyes of our Holy Lord God.  The Lord makes provision for saints who have sinned against Him.  What a gracious Lord God we serve!  Praise His Holy Name!  We are continually blessed with HOPE in Him and in His Sovereign grace to us, ‘His people’.

“If we confess our sins (to God alone!), He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.”  (1 John 1:9-10)

Verse 5. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? To search out the cause of our sorrow is often the best surgery for grief.  Self-ignorance is not bliss; in this case it is misery.  The mist of ignorance magnifies the causes of our alarm; a clearer view will make monsters dwindle into trifles.” (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 204)

Verse 5. “Hope thou in God. Hope never affords more joy than in affliction.  It is on a watery cloud that the sun paints those curious colours in the rainbow...There are two graces, which Christ useth above any other, to fill the soul with joy - faith and hope - because these two fetch all their wine of joy without dour (begrudgery). Faith tells the soul what Christ hath done for it; and so comforts it; hope revives the soul with the news of what Christ will do: both draw at one tap – Christ and His promise. (Condensed from William Gurnall 1617-1679)

The Lord God, Jehovah, because of the Sacrifice made by His Son, Jesus Christ, offers repentance as His gift to all those He redeems by Christ’s precious Blood Sacrifice.  The knowledge of this gift of repentance from our sin, brings with it true hope, because we are granted faith to believe and trust in God’s Word and promise of forgiveness.  When we repent from our disobedient sins, the Lord renews us into full fellowship with Himself, and the hope He grants us in Christ, draws out the sting of all our Spiritual depressions.  Hallelujah!

“Think it not enough to silence thy heart from quarrelling with God, but leave not till thou canst bring it sweetly to rely on God.  Holy David drove it thus far, he did not only chide his soul for being disquieted, but he charges it to trust in God.”  (William Gurnall 1617-1679)

Thought: When cast down – cast out sin, be forgiven, renew fellowship with God.