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“Send Out Your Light and Your Truth”

August 14, 2020

This is my final note in our series of reflections on Psalms 42 and 43. These two psalms comprise a single song of lament, which follows an alternating rhythm of descent and ascent. The final plea in Psalm 43:3 marks the beginning of the final ascent:

Send out your light and your truth;
  let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
  and to your dwelling!

The Psalmist calls on God to send out his light and his truth. This is not a request for enlightenment or knowledge. He’s not saying, “Enlighten me. Let me see what’s going on here. Give me a rational explanation of my circumstances, so I can fully understand everything that’s happening.” He’s not asking for truth in a rational or intellectual sense: “Send me propositions and principles that will help me evaluate my circumstances.”

We should not understand light and truth in an abstract or intellectual sense. Remember the context. The Psalmist is longing for God himself. His “soul thirsts for the living God” (Ps 42:2). He wants to know, “when shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps 42:2) He cries out, “Why have you forgotten me? Why have you rejected me?” (Ps 42:9; 43:2) The primary object of the Psalmist’s yearning and longing is God himself. He’s crying out for God’s presence. The sharpest pain of his depression is caused by the sense of God’s absence. This is why his enemies’ taunts cut so deep, like “a deadly wound in my bones” (Ps 42:10), because they’re calling attention to God’s apparent absence.

This is the context in which the Psalmist cries out, “Send me your light and your truth” (Ps 43:3). He’s not asking for a lesson in philosophy. He’s asking for God himself. Notice why he’s asking for light and truth: “let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!” (Ps 43:3) Light and truth lead him and bring him into God’s presence. The light that he’s asking for is the light of God’s presence. It’s the radiance of his glory. It’s the light of God’s face, the light of his countenance. The Psalmist doesn’t ask, “send out light.” He asks, “send out your light.” It seems as though God has turned his face away from him. He’s been rejected and forgotten, and so the Psalmist cries out, Send out your light. Turn your face towards me. Show me your grace and your favour. The Psalmist is praying, let me be among that blessed people “who know the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in the light of your face” (Ps 89:15).

Send out your light and your truth. Again, we can’t think of truth in an abstract or philosophical sense here. Truth in the Bible is personal and relational. It’s tied to faithfulness and covenant keeping. The Psalmist is saying, “send out your covenant faithfulness.” Be true to your word, to your covenant, to your promise. “Send out your light and your truth” – make your face to shine upon me and remember your promises of salvation and deliverance – “let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!” I can’t get there on my own. I need your light and your truth to lead. I need your light and your truth to bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling.

The Psalmist wants deliverance, but not simply deliverance from the oppressive taunts of the enemies. He wants deliverance to the presence of God. Many people will pray Psalm 43:1. They’ll cry out to God in their distress and ask him to deliver them. But that’s not the heart of the prayer in Psalms 42 and 43. This song of lament is a cry for God’s light and God’s truth. A plea to share in God’s holiness, to dwell with God on his holy hill.

He wants to be in the light of God’s presence so he can sing God’s praises. In verse 4, he makes a promise:

Then I will go to the altar of God,
  to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
  O God, my God.

When God delivers him and sends out his light and his truth to bring him back into God’s presence, he will go to the altar and make a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise. This is what we do every Sunday. We gather in the sanctuary to make an offering of thanksgiving and praise. At the end of Psalm 16, David says to God, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is the fullness of joy.” That’s what the Psalmist declares here about God: God is the “God of my exceeding joy.”

And he is worthy of our praise: He’s the living water that satisfies our souls; He’s our rock and refuge in midst of the storm; He’s our light in the darkness of night; He’s our Judge and our Defender and our Deliverer when we’re oppressed; and He’s our exceeding joy in times of sorrow.

Now that’s theology. Yes, the Psalmist is baring his soul in these two Psalms, but he’s also confessing his faith in God: God is our life; He’s our rock; He’s our Judge; He’s our Defender; He’s our Deliverer; He’s our refuge; He’s our light; He’s our truth; He’s our joy; He’s our hope; He’s our salvation; He’s our God.

And so, the Psalmist says to us a third time:

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
  and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God;
  for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

This song of lament is an intensely personal song. There are 40 first-person pronouns in Psalms 42 and 43. But it’s also a song that directs our attention to God. The enemies taunt, “where is your God?” These Psalms shows us where he is. He’s in every verse. He’s with us. Always. This song of lament helps us to see God in our present circumstances and it helps us to see God beyond our present circumstances.

Psalms 42 and 43 also point us to Christ. Every line of this lament song points to Christ: He’s living water; He’s our life; He’s our rock; He’s our judge; He’s our defender; He’s our deliverer; He’s our refuge; He’s the light; He’s the truth; He’s our joy, our hope, our salvation, and He’s our God. He’s the answer to the prayer in Psalm 43:3:

Send out your light and your truth;
  let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
  and to your dwelling.

Jesus is the answer to this prayer. Jesus is God’s face turned towards us. He is God’s light and truth, sent out to lead us and bring us back into God’s dwelling. He is the light of the world. He is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to Father except through him. When our souls are cast down, he says to us, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1).

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