Psalm 43: Bringing Takeout to God’s House

Read Psalm 43.

There’s something special about enjoying a good meal with good friends. It’s almost magical what happens when you sit across from someone you care about and dig into something delicious. No one ever eats in silence, do they? A meal gives us a place to pause, to enjoy, and to talk. No one ever says, “Let’s get together and do our taxes.” It’s always, “Let’s grab dinner sometime” or “We should really get some coffee and catch up.” Food and drink aren’t strictly necessary for conversation, but somehow it seems right to enjoy something good to eat while also enjoying fellowship.

As Psalm 43 opens, the psalmist isn’t exactly enjoying fellowship with other people. He’s got enemies, a whole nation of them it seems (v. 1). He’s still looking for God’s help. Whatever his trouble, he is on the run, far from Jerusalem and the temple of the Lord, and he wants to get back:

Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Then I will go the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. (vv. 3–4)

The psalmist longs to worship through sacrifice and song. The type of sacrifice he wants to make when he gets to “the altar of God” (v. 4) is likely a fellowship or peace offering, since he wants to follow it up with praise.

The fellowship offering was a voluntary offering made by Israelites looking to enjoy closeness with God (see Leviticus 3; 7:11–34). The interesting thing about this offering is that it was the only offering where the Israelite bringing the sacrifice could eat some of the meat. It was a way of enjoying a meal with the Lord. Some of the animal would be “consumed” by the Lord on the altar, and some would go to the priests, but then some would be eaten by the worshiper. The fellowship offering was like bringing dinner over God’s house (the temple) and then sitting down at the table with Him to share it.

Because Jesus was our once-and-only sacrifice for sin, we no longer need to bring animals to an altar to shed their blood. The sacrificial system belonged to the old covenant, and the new has come. Still, it seems God likes eating meals with His people.

Jesus told His disciples to remember Him with a meal. We sometimes call this meal communion and rightly so, since partaking of the cup and the bread is a way of proclaiming our union with Christ: “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16).

We still come to enjoy a meal with the Lord, but now it is not we who bring the meat. Jesus offered Himself as the sacrifice we needed. The Lord’s Supper stands as a testimony to His death and resurrection until the day He returns. And when He does, we will get ready for another meal.

The fellowship offering prescribed in Leviticus hinted at it. The psalmist in Psalm 43 desired it. And Jesus told us about it while initiating the Lord’s Supper: “I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes” (Luke 22:18). One day we will sit at table with the Lord Himself and share a meal of thanksgiving and fellowship for all He has done. “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19:9).

What is this all about?

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