Today’s reading is Psalm 43.
The common consensus is Psalm 42 and Psalm 43 were originally one psalm. There are decent reasons to believe this. For starters, a few ancient manuscripts apparently record them as one psalm (though the majority do not). The repeated refrain from Psalm 42:5, 11 is also the refrain in Psalm 43:5. The question about mourning and oppression of the enemy is found in Psalm 42:9 and Psalm 43:2. Clearly, Psalms 42-49 is a collection of psalms by the Sons of Korah. Psalm 43, however, does not have an attribution to anyone. That seems pretty convincing that the attribution for Psalm 42, in view of the other similarities, is supposed to stand for both psalms.
No doubt, the common consensus may be right. Of course, almost no one can venture a guess as to why the psalm would have been split in two. The only conjecture I’ve read is this last verse was separated for liturgical use. It is more of a prayer than the two verses in Psalm 42, so it was separated to be used in different worship settings. Perhaps.
But just like many of the psalms that we are told are surely two psalms that have been jammed together, I’m left with the same question. Why? It is clearly obvious that somehow these psalms are connected. So obvious almost everyone asserts they must have once been a single psalm. Why then would anyone separate them?
In my mind, its much more likely that either the author of Psalm 42 or another Son of Korah determined Psalm 42 was a song that needed another verse and added it later. Something was missing and needed to be completed. It seems God felt similarly, because He wanted both included in the Psalter. But whether I’m right or the common consensus is correct really doesn’t matter. These two psalms go together and clearly the ancient editors of the Psalms thought so, because they put them together in our psalter.
But there is a difference. Psalm 42 is very much a lament. It explains the two scenarios of dehydration and drowning. It laments the mocking of the enemies. It questions what God is doing. Psalm 43, however, is a prayer, a request. “Lord, do something about this!”
And that is exactly what we can do. When lament is the order of the day (and there are days when lament is in order), the prayer is not complete with just the complaint. Certainly, Psalm 88 proves you can end with just the lament, but why would you want to? Bring in that third verse that is not like the first or the second. Bring in that third verse that calls on God. He’ll let you ask. He wants you to ask. What gracious God we serve!
Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 43.
Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family
- What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
- What do you think? It doesn’t matter a great deal, but do you think these were probably a single psalm that were broken apart or is Psalm 43 a later psalm meant to “complete” the first?
- Why are we sometimes tempted to just lament? Is there ever a reason to do so?
- What comfort does it give you to know that in our lament God allows and even wants us to make our requests of Him?
- What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?