Psalms For Life
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Yahveh Elohim hear our prayers

Psalm 43

Plea for light in the dark 

We can easily feel disappointed with God when falsely accused or unjustly treated. But instead of pulling away and closing our heart to him, this is when we must cry out to him all the more.

Declare me innocent, O God!
Take up my cause and save me
from these faithless, lying people.
For you alone are my God, my stronghold.
Why have you discarded me?
Why must I tramp about in gloom
harassed by my enemies?
Send out your light and your truth
to guide me.
Let them lead me back
to the holy hill where you live.
There I’ll go to the altar of God
my joy and delight
and praise you with the lyre
O God, my God!

Why are you so downcast, my soul?
Why in such turmoil?
Hope in God!
I will yet praise him
for coming to my rescue
and being my God.


Taking this psalm as the conclusion of Psalm 42, we know the psalmist is running scared, falsely accused, misrepresented, harassed, alone. Supremely confident in themselves, his enemies revile him for thinking God cares about him. He’s exhausted not just physically, but emotionally too. Depressed.

But though he’s stumbling in the dark, he knows three vital truths: that God alone can vindicate him, that God is his only hope and the source of his deepest joy, and that this saga is less about his need to escape his persecuters than to find rest in God. He’s known the sweetness of that rest before. So one good thing this ordeal has brought him is a deep longing to rediscover the joy of God’s embrace.

Finding our way back to God is never just up to him, however. We must ask him to send out his light and truth to guide us home, and then follow them through the wilderness, like the Israelites followed the pillar of cloud and fire. So the psalmist alternately pours out his heart to God in prayer and returns his focus from the storm he’s in to the God who has always rescued poor storm-tossed souls.

Swallowed by my darkness, Lord, I seek no light but yours. You alone can guide me home. So pierce the darkness with your truth and light. Release me from every falsehood, whether made by others or by me. Let me know once more the rest and joy of your embrace. Amen.

In your free moments today, pray this prayer:

Send out your light and your truth
to guide me.
Let them lead me back
to the holy hill where you live.

Why YHWH?

Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH or YHVH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and sometimes transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Likewise, all modern translations either translate or transliterate it. Some other options for translating it are “the Eternal,” “the Almighty,” or “the Sovereign Lord.”

While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it seems to me more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. This roots it more firmly in the biblical story as the name God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. Meaning “the self-existent One who answers to no one,” the name YHWH set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. I’ve chosen to transliterate only YHWH’s consonants since the earliest Hebrew manuscripts contain only consonants, the vowels being added much later. My aim in doing so is to honor God’s name and set it apart, as unique.

One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it out of reverence. (They read Adonai instead whenever they come to YHWH in the text.) I take the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard, who advocated pronouncing it as Yahveh (Yah·vay). He favored that over the standard Yahweh since the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish. It also makes it sound more robust, period.

Finding strength in the ancient psalms

May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.