Desperate for Direction
Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your tabernacle.
In the darkness of our difficult moments or seasons of confusion, we need God’s light and truth. Without it our hearts are tempted to question God, fear our circumstances, and struggle with inner torment.
David was in such a moment when he wrote Psalm 43 (usually paired with Psalm 42) as the expression of his downcast spirit and his feelings of alienation from God, separation from His tabernacle, and persecution from men. He knew God was his divine strength, but did not feel His nearness. He knew God was his strength, but felt downcast in his spirit. David longed to be back in that place of worship which he describes as God’s holy hill and tabernacle. For the moment, he was far away and fighting the darkness of his own feelings.
Some say David wrote this when he was under the ruthless pursuit of Saul and his army. Others conclude it was a different dark moment, probably following the betrayal by Absalom while banished in the desert, full of question and short on clarity.
Our Desperate Cry
He cried out to God, “Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me.” Today you may feel the same cry arising from your heart. We always need the Lord’s leadership, but tough times tend to accelerate our desperation for and openness to God’s sovereign intervention.
In another Psalm, David referred to truth and light: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). As New Testament believers we have the truth of His completed word and the light of the Gospel. We enjoy the light of His presence and the Spirit of Truth, resident in our hearts. As I think about the Lord’s leadership, three principles come to mind for your encouragement today
1. He gives us enough light and truth to move forward rather than get stuck –
It is easy to get stuck in our problems and pain. Satisfied with our misery and apathy, we do not long for change and direction. David’s cry in this Psalm emerges from a moment of doubt and despair of soul. Yet, he is longing for new joy, fresh hope, and stirring praise in God’s presence. For God to lead us, we must be dissatisfied with our current status and willing to follow Him beyond where we are. Like Paul, we must desire to “press on” as we reach forward toward the goal of God’s call (Philippians 3:12-14).
In Psalm 32:8-9, God promises to instruct and teach us in the way we should go, guiding us in a personal fashion. But He warns, “Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you.” We want to be hungry and surrendered, not stubborn and stuck. In our toughest moments, one of our greatest needs is to cry out for the Lord’s leadership with a readiness to follow, according to His word and in submission to the Spirit of Christ.
2. He gives us enough light and truth to trust God rather than the “outcome” –
When David spoke of God’s word as a lamp, he was thinking of the illustration of the small oil lamps of biblical days which cast just enough light for the next few steps. Often at night, when I get up, rather than turn on a lamp, I use my cell phone to shine just enough light to show me where I am going. In a similar way, God shows us our next few steps – but not always the entire path and destination.
This engenders daily trust. If we knew the details of the entire path, we would trust in the certainty of the way, not in the guiding presence of God and His word. The old hymn reminds us, “When we walk with the Lord in the light of His word, what a glory He sheds on our way.” The chorus resounds, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.” Very often this unfolds a step at a time, not a mile at a time; a day at a time, not always a year at a time.
3. He gives us enough light and truth to bring us to His presence –
David specifically wanted God to lead him back to God’s holy hill and tabernacle, that place of worship in Old Testament times. Here he would rediscover joy, experience praise, and feel the deepest hope. This is similar to the writer in Psalm 73, who experienced deep angst of soul, but tasted peace and resolve when he entered the sanctuary of God (Psalm 73:17). He sensed God’s fresh presence and guidance (v. 23-24), then cried out, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever… But it is good for me to draw near to God” (vv. 25, 26 & 28). Songwriter Matt Redman captured this same sense when he declared, “I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about You, Jesus.”
External and Internal Direction
Externally, God directs our path, but ultimately He wants to draw our hearts. He helps us find “solutions” but ultimately wants us to again treasure the Savior. We need Him to resolve our problems and pain, but He knows our satisfaction is found in His presence. On one hand we move forward in life; at a different level, we move deeper in love. Indeed we cry,”Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead us back to You.”
Copyright © 2011 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.