A Stranger in a Strange Land

(Today's post by Chris Queen)

Psalm 42-43

I’m not a big fan of poetry, so I like to think of the psalms in terms of what they most likely were – songs. The psalmists were the Chris Tomlin, Hillsong United, and Scott England of their day. These songs cover the gamut of human experience – you name the emotion, it’s there in the psalms.

Psalm 42 and Psalm 43 have a lot in common. Many scholars believe that they were meant to be one psalm but someone somewhere divided them up. (Those of us old enough to remember 45 records would call that a double-sided single.) The psalmists – or to use the song analogy, the band who performed the original version – were the Sons of Korah. Korah was killed for his rebellion against Moses and Aaron, yet his descendants continued to serve in the temple.

In these two psalms, the protagonist/lead vocalist is a Jewish exile, one of God’s people in a hostile, unfamiliar nation. A stranger in a strange land. He pours out his frustration at being separated from the temple, and he remembers celebrating the Jewish feasts and holy days. However, his situation is far from hopeless. There’s a pattern of verses in both psalms that repeat – the chorus, if you will:

42:5 My soul, why are you so downcast? Why are you groaning inside me? Hope in God, since I will praise him again for the salvation that comes from his presence.

This chorus pops up again at the end of 42 and at the end of 43. Why repeat them, and why feature this sentiment in the midst of such sadness? Well, this exile is filled with hope, regardless of his circumstances. He hopes in God – the Almighty, who will restore him once again.

This verse resonates with me because it reminds me that God is bigger than my circumstances. If my hope is in God, a bad day, week, or month should pale in comparison to “the salvation that comes from his presence.” My hope is in Someone far greater than anything on this earth. And that hope can help me rise above my circumstances anytime.

Do you put your hope in God no matter the circumstances?

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