Psalm 43: A Sword in my Bones
“Why are you cast down, O my soul?” Psalm 43 asks. Why indeed? Why not? Certainly there are many reasons to be downcast.
Most scholars believe that this short psalm was actually part of Psalm 42. There are many good reasons for this, a key one being that the last verse, “Why are you cast down, O my soul . . .” (5) is repeated twice in Psalm 42. But for whatever reason, some editor, putting together the book of the Psalms, decided to separate out the last five verses into their own psalm.
In Psalm 43 the writer asks God to vindicate, defend, and deliver him from ungodly people. God is to act as judge, advocate and bailiff. Where the primary theme of Psalm 42 is loneliness and longing, in Psalm 43 the writer is calling for justice against those who plot against him. He asks God to send out his light and truth to lead him. “Oh send out thy light and thy truth; let them lead me.” (3a) The weapons against the powers of evil are light and truth.
But why is the writer of Psalm 43 cast down? What has caused his suffering? The answer lies in Psalm 42.
In Psalm 42, verse 10, the writer states, “As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” (NAB) Other translations state: My bones suffer mortal agony (NIV); Their taunts break my bones (NLT); As with a deadly wound in my bones (ESV); and, As with a sword in my bones (KJV). Their words hurt the writer in his bones.
Bones support the body. They are foundational. Without them we would just be a mass of flesh lying on the ground. Bones are essential. They allow us to walk around, sit up and stand. To hurt our bones is to hurt us in our foundations–in the beliefs that support us, give our live meaning and purpose.
As someone with osteoporosis, whenever I hear mention of crushed, wounded bones, I take note. What might this psalm be saying to me? Do the words have wisdom that might help my physical situation? The last thing I want is a shattered bone, leaving me on crutches or in a wheelchair.
The actions of the writer’s adversaries has left him spiritually disabled. The writer is cast down because the taunts of his detractors have hurt the structure of his life. They have taken away that which gave meaning and purpose to his life. Their challenges, “Where is your God?” has hurt his relationship with God and his belief in a God who will protect him.
In the midst of this challenge, he is called to a new relationship with God, one not dependent on what anyone else may say or believe (see Psalm 42).
The writer trusts in God’s light and truth, that they will prevail. So he asks, why be cast down? We may ask the same. Why be cast down? We have God’s light and truth to guide us. “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.”(5b) Our hope is in our God! (5b)
Have you ever been hurt to the bone? How have you dealt with such hurt? Is there a way to turn this hurt into an opportunity for spiritual growth?
This post is part of a series of blog posts on the Psalms. Sign up to follow this blog and and receive a free copy of Still Dancing, the second book in my Dancing through Life Series. click here to sign up
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