Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God.Psalm 43:4(NASB)
It was once said that trials are the food for faith to feed upon, and this is a truth voiced elsewhere in Scripture. In James we read that a man who endures trials is blessed, because it produces endurance, while Peter tells us that difficult trials come to sharpen our faith.
In Job we read of a man whose spiritual character and understanding grew when he was placed under extreme pressure, and Israel's king David discovered the trials he faced only served to develop his understanding and appreciation of God's long-suffering faithfulness towards His people.
The unnamed author of Psalm 43 can be identified as a man who discovered that the antidote to discouragement and despair is hope in the Lord. He learned that despite the difficulties and problems life throws at each of us, a heart that praises God translates into a soul whose faith is fortified.
It appears that the psalmist is a man who is plagued by deceitful and unrighteous people. He is estranged from people he loves and exiled in a foreign land. He begins his psalm with a plea for God to vindicate him, help him, defend his cause and deliver him from his enemy - 'Deliver me from the deceitful and unrighteous man' he cries.
Whether his enemy is a group or an individual person, the intense pressure the psalmist is under caused him to reaffirm his faith and testify that the Lord is His strength and stay... while momentarily mourning because of his oppression and asking why God had abandoned and rejected him.
However, his lament is short-lived because he knows his refuge in the God of his salvation and calls out to the Lord.."O send out Your light and Your truth. Let Your light and truth lead me. Let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling places".
The psalmist cannot deny that in the Lord is light and truth, and in this verse he is able to rejoice and proclaim. 'I will go to the altar of God... I will go to God Who is my exceeding great joy - and upon the harp I shall praise You, O God, my God".
When Israel were away from their land and the holy Temple of God, they were unable to fulfil the requirements of the Law and were denied the joy that worshipping in the house of God afforded all who trusted in Him for their salvation.
Today we live in a world where the elect of God do not need a Temple made from the work of men's hands, in which to worship. We do not need a geographical location in which to assemble, nor do we need a specific day to praise God or a special time to come to HIm in worship. Today true worshippers worship the Father in spirit and in truth, just as Jesus taught the woman at the well.
Today, we have the light of Christ and the truth of His word in our heart. Today, we have immediate access into our Father's presence, where we can draw near to the throne of His amazing grace fearlessly. We can be confident in the knowledge that we will always find help in times of need.. and when we feel alone, oppressed, discouraged or in despair we have his word that He is with us and will never leave us.
Collectively as the Church of Christ, and individually as His redeemed children, we have become God's holy sanctuary. We have the incredible privilege of the indwelling His Holy Spirit living in each one of us and Paul writes in Corinthian chapter 3.. "Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"
On those occasions when we find ourselves under intense pressure or discover discouragement and disappointment descending into our soul may we take Paul's words to heart and "reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us", and fan into flames the gift of God that is within us.
And may we quickly apply the action of the unnamed psalmist who declared, "I will go to the altar of God. I will go to God Who is my exceeding joy.. and upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the word of wisdom from the psalmist who fled to You in times of trouble and found in You his exceeding joy. Thank You that You are the joy of my salvation and the strength of my heart, in whom is light and truth. Ignite in my heart a faith that holds fast to my hope in You and I pray that the trials that I am facing today would be food upon which my trust in You will feed. May I never forget that Your grace is sufficient and made perfect in our weakness. Help me to fan into flame my faith in You, even when oppressed and discouraged. Thank You in Jesus' name, AMEN.