Psalm 43:3

O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me;
let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.
This Psalm was probably penned by David in some time of trouble.  He met with much injustice and trouble from men – but the Lord was his God, to him he could appeal as a righteous judge, that would in good time plead his cause.  He was sometimes driven from the sanctuary below, and the public worship, but he could not be cut off from immediate communion with him who is not confined to temples made with hands.  His 63rd psalm we are expressly told was made in the wilderness, perhaps likewise this – and we see how full of spiritual and divine breathings he is when cut off from the ordinances.  For no matter where we are driven if the Lord goes with us, nor what we are deprived of if he is our God, and is pleased to manifest his presence.  Let men do their utmost – though I am confined to a desert – yet thou art all-sufficient.  O send forth thy light.
These words express the desires of an awakened soul.  By nature we can neither understand or form such a wish as this.  Many of you have perhaps often repeated them in the service, without knowing what you meant – but I am persuaded there are some amongst you, who can heartily join with them; they express the very language of your souls.  May our present meditations on them, be made a means to add new life to your desires, and strength to your faith.  Here we observe:
  1. what is implied
  2. what is expressed
1. A conviction
  1.1 A conviction of the emptiness and vanity of the present state
This world and all that is in it, may be compared to what some writers have fancied of enchanted places.  It has been supposed that by the power of a sorcerer, people have been surprised, with fine sights, noble buildings, pleasant gardens – entertained with music and feasting, till by and by the charm has been broke, all these gay things have vanished, and they have found themselves disappointed and alone.  Such an enchantment is the world.  Such a magician is the devil.  He deceives the sight and stupefies the mind of sinners.  They think themselves in a world of delights – they propose nothing but pleasure and joy – they look no farther than the present life.  But when the Word and Spirit of God comes powerfully to the heart then the enchantment is broke – all those fine things are gone at one.  The soul is like a hungry man that has been dreaming of eating, and now it awakes and finds itself empty.  Then it sees and feels this cannot be its rest – it can no longer feed upon the wind – it wants something more substantial.  How have I been seeking the living among the dead, [1] expecting to enjoy peace and happiness in a state of sin and misery. But now I see I never can be happy unless the mighty God vouchsafes to be my portion, nor until I arrive at his heavenly hill, the place of his holiness.  No happiness for me till guilt is pardoned, sin subdued, and Satan trampled under my feet.
  1.2 A conviction of helplessness and insufficiency
When an awakened sinner, has seen the world to be what indeed it is, and has obtained some apprehensions of heavenly things, still it is at a distance, and much darkness lies upon the way to obtain.  Only in this the soul is satisfied and certain that it has no strength and wisdom of its own, whereby to escape deserved evil or to obtain the desired good.  It stands in need of assistance and this stirs it up to prayer, even the prayer of my text – for:
  1.3 There is likewise implied some beginnings of knowledge, that our help is in the name of the Lord, that if he does it not, it can never be done.  We are not brought to this at once.  When we first begin to open our eyes, we are very prone to seek deliverance by our own arm.  By confessions, resolutions and outside services – we begin to attempt a reformation, to set about a new life – and perhaps go on so very quietly for a while.  Our great enemy loves to see us busied in building a house upon the sand, and may suffer us to carry it on to a good height, for he knows that he is able with one puff of temptation to blow it down again.  Then when we think it strong he is suffered to come to try our work, and soon as it falls before him.  After many such disappointments, we at last see how poor and helpless we are and cry to the Lord, O send forth…
2. What is expressed

Every word is emphatical, and full of meaning.
  2.1 Send forth
From whence?  From Jesus.  He is the fountain, the Sun, the treasury of all grace.  This sending forth is the fruit of his intercession.  He has received gifts, even the Holy Spirit, to teach, comfort and seal, every seeking soul.
  2.2 Thy light
All light and knowledge is from God, but natural and common light, the light of reason, books, or education, will not do – therefore the soul prays Thy light – that which is peculiarly thine, and which none partake of but by special favour.
Light signifies:
  • knowledge – Psalm 119:130 [2]
  • comfort – Micah 7:9 [3]
Both these the heart which God has touched seeks from him alone.
  2.3 And thy truth
This is already revealed or sent forth in the Word, but the meaning of the prayer is, but the meaning is that the promises which are true in themselves, may be sent forth in their power and sweetness and applied to the heart.  Two things the soul wants to know of God’s truths:
    2.3.1 their extensive meaning and fullness
    2.3.2 its own interest in them
  2.4 Let them lead me
The question is asked somewhere, Who shall lead me into the strong city? [4] And here the soul is taught an answer – I indeed am dark and weak, I cannot see my way, nor walk in it by my own strength, but let the truth of God support me and his light shine upon my paths and I shall go on well.
  2.5 And bring me
Here is the humble confidence of faith – that what God begins shall not miscarry, and those whom he leads shall not be lost.  I know that my path is full of snares and dangers; if left to myself I should soon stumble and fall and be snared and broken – but thy light and truth shall lead me in safety to the end.  I am faint and apt to tire, but these shall revive me in the way, and at length bring me to the end and in safety.
  2.6 To thy holy hill
The soul is sick of earth and longs for heaven – this is the place where it would be.  It is described:
    2.6.1 as a hill
In allusion to Mount Zion, Revelation 14:1, [5] perhaps to signify the difficulty of the way, it is an uphill road:
the security and safety, it is high out of the reach of all enemies, and
its eminence – it cannot be hid; it is set on a hill, and attracts the hearts and views of all the children of God. They are all looking to this prize of their calling. [6]
    2.6.2 As a holy hill
No unclean thing shall enter.  When the everlasting gates are lifted up to receive my poor unworthy soul, I shall leave all my sins and sorrows behind me.
    2.6.3 Thy tabernacles
This is the crowning circumstance.  Our Lord Jesus dwells on this holy hill.  There we shall see him as he is and love him as we ought.  There we shall cast our crowns at his feet.  We shall go up to his altar with exceeding joy, to sing his praise on harps of gold forever.
If these are not your desires and views, you are in a dangerous state and sleeping the sleep of death.  May the Lord awaken you.
If you can indeed put up this prayer, if you choose heaven as your home, and God’s light and truth as your way, your prayer shall be answered.  Fight against your unbelief as David, verse 5. [7]

[1] Luke 24:5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
[2] Psalm 119:130 The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
[3] Micah 7:9 I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.
[4] Psalm 60:9 Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?
[5] Revelation 14:1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.
[6] Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
[7] Psalm 43:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Cowper & Newton Museum, N17