What is Wrong?
Sometimes the question of the Psalmist has no obvious answer. Why are you cast down, O my soul? We honestly don’t know. We know that we are cast down. A depression may have swept over us for no traceable reason, but it is there nevertheless, and so we find ourselves talking to ourselves – asking ourselves; Why are you cast down, O my soul?
At other times the answer to the question is blatantly obvious. ‘Why are you cast down O my soul?’ If my dad asked himself that question in the spring of 2014 for instance, the answer would have come rushing into place. ‘Why are you cast down O my soul?’ Well, it might be because my wife of 64 years has passed away, and I am feeling completely lost without her.
We are in cultural moment when there are an endless stream of answer’s along these obvious lines to the Psalmist’s question. Why is my soul cast down you ask? Might it be because my mother or father died alone in the hospital and their body was taken and put in a refrigerated truck beside the hospital? Why is my soul cast down? Might it be that I lost my job and find myself sitting in my car to pick up a box of food for the family? And of course, on and on we might go with the list of Pandemic induced oddities that are the new normal for millions of people across this country, and millions more from around the world.
Why are you cast down, O my soul?
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
The Psalmist then goes on to pull out attention away from whatever it is that is casting us down, so as to place that focus and attention on something ultimately hopeful. Or, as it turns out to be the case, Someone who will prove to be ultimately hope giving. Notice what he goes on to write,
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation
The Hebrew phrase translated here as ‘hope in God’ which is a perfectly fine and accurate translation, might equally well be translated ‘wait on God;’ hoping in God and waiting on God come to pretty much the same thing. Hope is a future oriented word, and so is wait. Hope in God. Wait on God.
It is as if the Psalmist comes to us and says ‘just wait a bit, and everything will turn out a lot different than things appear now.’ This is always true for the believer; this is inevitably true for the believer.
So, there you are, there has been a death and so you are grieving, but if you are both in Christ, if you wait awhile there will be a resurrection and the accompanying eternal rejoicing. So, there you are, waiting in a food line in some American city – waiting there as a believer; but if you wait awhile you will find yourself at the marriage supper of the Lamb in the New Heaven and the New Earth. This is what the Psalmist is getting at when he writes,
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation…
For the believer that praise is not a mere possibility but a certainty; it is an eventuality coming your way – no one can stop it. As the Psalmist put it elsewhere, in what is probably the most famous Hebrew poem of all time,
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Ps. 23:6 ESV)
Hope in God, He is coming.
Wait on God, He is arriving.
Hope in God and wait on God for there are days of praising out on ahead; salvation is on the way.