Literary analysis of Psalm 43 – God, my keenest joy

 justice  photo  A variation of Song 42 but with one essential change: the imagery of Song 42, of water and sound, is replaced in Song 43 by the metaphor of a court of law. Thus the song begins, “Grant me justice, O God, take up my case….” (v. 1). The singer’s advocates are, or so he asks of God, the personified qualities, light and truth: “Send forth Your light and Your truth. It is they that will guide me” (v. 2).
The opponent of the singer is “a faithless nation”; more specifically, “a man of deceit and wrong” (v. 4). The singer’s plea is that he will be “free” of his enemy’s hold (v. 1). Since his opponents are given no further identity, we can only assume the faithless nation refers to Korah and his followers, especially since Korah himself would fit the description of a man of deceit and wrong.
In exact correspondence, verse 3 of Song 43 answers the singer’s question in verse 3 of Song 42, “When shall I come and see the presence of God?” Song 43, verse 3, declares that light and truth will “bring” the singer to God’s “holy mountain”, to God’s “dwelling-place”. It seems, then, that the mountain will be both the place of the court, but, more essential, the place where the singer will receive his verdict, one of benediction: not only will he “come to God’s altar”, but he will join the procession he longingly recalls in Song 42; able now to accompany the “glad song” of the celebrants (v. 5, Song 42) with his lyre (v. 4, Song 43).
The taunt of his foes in Song 42, “Where is your God?” (v. 4), he once again answers, in implicit correspondence, by his affirmation, “O God, my God”, in verse 4 of song 43. His use of the pronoun “my” echoes his use in Song 42 –“the God of my life” (v. 9, Song 42) — and follows, in Song 43, upon his declaration, “God, my keenest joy” (v. 4): in both songs, the singer is emphasizing his claim upon a personal God, not an abstract concept, Who is, for him, the essence of his being.
Song 43 ends with the exact repetition of the closing verse, verse 12, of Song 42:
How bent, my being, how you moan for me!
                                                                                    Hope in God, for yet will I acclaim Him,
                                                                                                   His rescuing presence and my God. (v. 5)
Having put his petition –his plea– before God, the singer has become his own advocate. No matter the weariness of his being, it is the sound of his lyre, the melody of affirmation, that rings out in the final line as the singer acknowledges his judge, his advocate, his rescuer: “my God”.

Literary analysis of Psalm 42 – When shall I come and see the presence of God?

water sing photo  Central to Song 42 are the images of water and of sound. Through these images, the singer creates the means of bringing himself into the presence of God Whom he seeks.

Literary analysis of Psalm 41- Blessed is Adonai, the God of Israel from all time past and for all time to come. Amen and amen

 אשרי ashrai - psalm study - happinessAlthough the majority of verses of Song 41 recount the singer’s illness and his enemies’ gloating at his suffering, the imagery in the song is, nonetheless, powerful, physical, as though belying any weakness or infirmity in the singer while, at the same time, pointing out the enemies’ aggressiveness. Thus: “his enemies’ maw” (v. 3); “his heart spoke a lie” (v. 7); “[h]e gathered up mischief” (v. 7) –imagery all depicting the singer’s foes– is matched by “You…made me stand before You” (v. 13) — indicating the singer’s gratitude to God Who, he believes, will accord him the ultimate triumph. Even the English “devious”, describing his false friend, becomes, in the literal Hebrew, part of the implied contrast –“my confidant…has raised against me his heel” (v. 10). The raised heel, though used as a weapon, requires an arching of the body, in contrast to the upright posture of the singer as he stands erect at the song’s close.