Psalm 43:1
Vindicate me, O God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation; deliver me from deceitful and unjust men.
Sermons
God the Salvation of the Countenance; OrC. Clemance Psalm 43:1-5
In ExileJ. O. Keen, D. D.Psalm 43:1-5
Strengthening the Heart in GodW. Forsyth Psalm 43:1-5
The Soul's Double AppealHomilistPsalm 43:1-5


a light heart makes a bright face. Dr. Binnie remarks, "The forty-second and forty-third [psalms] (which go together), were almost certainly written by the Korahites who accompanied David in his flight beyond the Jordan during Absalom's rebellion." Nearly all modern critics consider that this and the preceding psalm formed originally but one. So the similarity of Psalm 42:5, 11 and Psalms 43:5 would suggest. There is a variation between some of the expressions in the former and those in the latter; but there is nothing in this psalm which needs elaborate explanation. There is, however, an expression in both of them, which contains in itself a doctrine of amazing depth, one of which thousands of living believers are perpetual illustrations and proofs, though, as a doctrine, it receives far too little notice. The doctrine is connected with the religion of the face, and is this - that when Divine light shines in the soul of man, it will cause a radiance all its own to beam from the countenance; that God is indeed the salvation of a man's features. An Irishman was once asked what made him look so happy after his conversion. "Oh," he said, "Christ lightens our hearts, and then he brightens our face." As Dickson quaintly remarks hereon, "As when the Lord withdraweth both the outward tokens of his favour and his inward consolation for a time, the countenance of the godly cannot but be heavy, cast down, and look sad, like a man that is sick; so when God returneth to comfort and to own his own, either both inwardly and outwardly, or inwardly only, the man's face looketh cheerful: he is the health of my countenance. The Rev. Joseph Cook, of Boston, U.S., in a remarkable lecture on Solar Self-Culture, says, There is only one form of culture that gives supremacy, and that is the form which produces the solar look; and the solar look comes only from the Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. It may be incontrovertibly proved, by the coolest induction from fixed natural law, that the highest culture must be that through which the solar look shines, and that this look is possible only when there exists in the soul glad self-surrender to the innermost holiest of Conscience. In that innermost holiest Christianity finds a personal Omnipotence." We are all familiar enough, indeed, with the generally admitted fact that the face is an index of character, but the truths underlying that fact demand from us closer attention than is sometimes given thereto.

I. IT IS AN ORDINANCE OF GOD, THAT IN A WAY EITHER OF MERCY OR OF JUDGMENT, THE FACE SHOULD BE THE INDEX OF THE SOUL. When Moses had been on the mount, communing with God, his face shone. When Hannah had laid her burden before God, her countenance was no more sad. When Stephen was before the council, in the midst of hostile, angry men, his face was as the face of an angel. The late devout Samuel Martin, of Westminster, had a face so radiant through fellowship with God, that when a friend had called on him with Dean Stanley, the dean remarked afterwards, "I am glad you took me to call there; I have seen the face of an angel." The truth that communion with God lights up the face is recognized by Dante, who, speaking of Beatrice, says -

"... with such gladness, that God's love
Seem'd from her visage shining."


(Carey's Dante, p. 497: H. G. Bohn.) To work out this thought on its darker side would be as terrible as on its brighter side it is enchanting. How are some faces that once bid fair to be beautiful, spoilt by the deeply graven lines of vice and crime! Our present theme puts before us, however, the brighter side, and it is one on which we may well love to linger. For note further -

II. THAT THE DEVOUT SOUL LOVES TO COMMUNE WITH GOD. The whole of Psalm 42. and 43, shows us this. And the experience of believers is perpetually verifying this, in prayer there is an upward look of the whole being. "Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul;" "Our eyes wait upon the Lord our God;" "I will lift up mine eyes to the hills." And in this uplooking of the man there is an entirely different set of mental and spiritual powers and energies at work than when the habit of looking downward or around, or even the habit of not looking at all, is in exercise. The soul is in communion with the best and dearest of Friends, enjoying a luxury of fellowship with which a stranger cannot intermeddle.

III. WHEN THE SOUL THUS COMMUNES WITH GOD, GOD SENDS HIS GIFTS DOWN INTO THE SOUL. God reveals himself within, and makes us full of joy with his countenance; and in revealing himself he brings with him purity, peace, and power; and when such privilege is realized, the outer discomforts of life are forgotten in a joy unspeakable and full of glory. The temptations of the evil one cease to have power when God is near; the heaviest toil can be undertaken, and the weightiest cross be carried with cheerfulness and even with song; and since by the law of association we grow like those we love most, we, beholding the glory of the Lord, shall be changed into the same image, from glory to glory!

IV. THE EFFECT OF ALL THIS WILL BE THE SALVATION OF THE FACE. Such is the remarkable expression in Psalm 43:5; it is translated, "the health of my countenance;" literally it is, "the salvation of my face." Even so Christ is - is now - the Saviour of the body, and in the emancipation of the spirit from sin he is redeeming the face from ignoble marks and traits. How often have we known a man's face marvellously changed at his conversion, not by evolution, but by regeneration. "He doesn't look like the same man!" is an exclamation often heard. A well-known minister was converted while preaching. Such a radiance instantly shone into his face, that an enthusiastic Methodist jumped up and exclaimed, "The parson's converted! The parson's converted!" A brave Scotch soldier, whose countenance rarely wore a smile, and from whose lips never a word was heard as to his personal religion, suddenly beheld the glory of the words, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out;" and as suddenly radiance gleamed from his face, the padlock fell off his lips, and he exclaimed, "rye Christ by the hand! I've Christ by the hand!" And in his second volume the Rev. J. G. Paten, writing of a convert from heathenism, says, "His once sullen countenance became literally bright with inner light" (p. 217). See also 'Leaves from my Note-book,' by Rev. Wm. Haslam (1890), p. 99. All the spiritual gifts which God bestows - joy, peace, purity, strength - will find corresponding expression in the lines and features of the countenance, giving demonstrative evidence of the present power of Divine grace even over the body, and yielding no dim prophetic forecast of the day when Christ shall alter the fashion of our bodies of humiliation, and transform them to the fixed type of his body of glory. Hence throughout the Book of Revelation, the purity of the blessed is indicated by their being robed in white, i.e. not the whiteness of snow, but the brightness of the star. If even here, with such partial sanctification, the bodily change is so great, what will it be when the purifying and glorifying processes are complete - when every soul will be full of love, and every' face will be a perfect index of the soul? How beautiful must faces be when perfect love is reflected therefrom!

V. THE SUBJECT IS NOT ONLY ONE OF GREAT DOCTRINAL INTEREST; IT IS ALSO FRAUGHT WITH DEEP PRACTICAL SIGNIFICANCE.

1. Let us cultivate the habit of observation, and make a religious study of the human face. The holiest men will never be mistaken for hardened atheists:

2. Let us each seek to realize the duty of letting the face speak for God. And it will, if we are constantly in talk with God. His peace, his purity, his power, imparted to the soul within, will certainly make their mark without.

3. Let the young take care of their faces. God made them to be beautiful, not with that beauty which is no deeper than the skin, but with the "beauty of holiness." Be true. Love and follow the right. Live to please God. In all your troubles speak to God. And your face wilt show the result; for God will be the "health of" your "countenance." Amen. - C.









I will say unto God my Rock, Why hast Thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
I. THE PREFACE OR INTRODUCTION. "I will say unto God," etc.

1. The terms upon which David addresses himself to God. "My Rock." This was an expression suitable to the condition which David was now in, and the metaphor which he had it set forth by, to wit, of being in the "deep"; he had said, the waves and billows went over him, and now, therefore, does he repair to the Rock. The Lord is pleased still in Scripture to represent Himself to us as most agreeable to our present necessities. If we be sick, He is our health; if we be dead, He is our life; if we be pursued, He is our castle; if we be assaulted, He is our shield; if we be ready to sink under dangers and calamities, He is then our Rock (Psalm 18:2; Psalm 89:26; Psalm 94:22). It is a small booty to us, for God to be a rock, except He be ours, and therefore David adds this to the other. Not only the rock which I have right to, but also the rock which I have proof and trial of in former proceedings. I have made Him my rock by faith, He has made Himself my rock by love. Thus the servants of God, as they go confidently where they have interest, so they go more confidently still there where they have experience (Psalm 57:2).

2. His preparation of himself to this address. "I will say."(1) A word of premeditation and advice. David being now to come before God, and to address himself unto Him, does not come to Him hand over head, he cares not how; but he thinks first with himself what he will utter and speak before Him when he shall come into His presence.(2) A word of resolution. David had tried other ways, he had spoken to his own soul already, and that would not do the deed; and now he resolves to go to God Himself, and to fasten his complaints upon Him, or at least to spread them before Him, and to desire His relief of Him in them. And this is what all Christians should resolve on; it is the best course which can be taken.

II. THE EXPOSTULATION ITSELF. "Why hast Thou," etc.

1. Look upon this complaint as it refers to God. "Why hast Thou forgotten me?" This may be understood either as such which there was causes and ground for indeed, or else as such which was so only according to David's apprehension.(1) God does sometimes so carry Himself towards His servants as if He had forgotten them, while He suffers them to continue and abide under sundry evils which they fall into. God forgets them that so they may remember themselves. The servants of God in prosperity, and in the enjoyment of all things to their minds, are apt very often to wander and go astray, and to go out of the way; now desertion it brings them in again and reduces them, and recovers them to themselves (Luke 15:17; 1 Kings 8:47; Psalm 119:67). As God forgets His people that so they may remember themselves, so also sometimes that they may remember Him (Isaiah 17:10). That they may remember others (Amos 6:6).(2) As we may look upon this forgetting as so indeed, so we may look upon it as being so only in David's apprehension, and so signifying thus much unto us, that God's servants are apt to think God forgets them, even then when He is yet mindful of them. From want of due understanding and consideration of the manner of God's dealings. From impatience and too much haste.

2. As it refers to himself.(1) He expostulates about the occasion. "Why go I mourning?" The occasions hereof to God's people are sundry and various: as

(a)their own sins, and the corruptions which do cleave unto them.

(b)The sins of others. God's children go mourning for these also.

(c)For their own and others' afflictions.(2) He expostulates as to the affection. Why go I mourning?" that is, Why do I mourn in this excess, as I now perceive myself to do? This is that which the servants of God are oftentimes troubled withal, even the inordinacy and distemper of their affections, when they go beyond their due measure and bounds; not only as it is painful, but as it is sinful.(3) This expostulation hath reference to the adversaries and opposites of David, "Because of the oppression of the enemy."

(Thomas Herren, D. D.)

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