What does an ungodly nation need from the body of believers?

This psalm asks a significant question on this July 4th weekend, a question relates to the current moral character of our country. Any ungodly nation needs believers in its midst to send out God's light and truth to individual men and women.


Our hearts are saddened by the erosion of the moral character of our country, and we long to see the vindication of right. Psalm 43 was written with the same heart. Psalm 42 and 43 appear as one psalm in some Hebrew manuscripts, though they naturally split into two separate songs. The first expresses a personal longing for God, while the second seeks corporate vindication before an ungodly nation. Both tensions arrive at the same resolution, a refrain repeated in each psalm: "Hope in God" (Psalm 42:5 and 11, Psalm 43:5). God's intention for saints living in an ungodly culture is to hope more fervently in Him and remove idols that take His place.

The Makeup of Ungodly Nations

Ungodly nations are made up of unjust, deceitful people. The word Psalm 43:1 uses for "ungodly" means "not saints." They have no knowledge of God, so their character is not holy.

For some time, the church has been dealing with cultural ideas and institutions at the expense of her personal discipleship mandate. The result of negotiating at the table of cultural ideas is that ungodly ideas come into the church. History shows that the church never sanctifies states; states always secularize the church.

Our mission is not to a culture but individuals. Jesus' teachings were not sociopolitical ideas but personal. A Christian worldview exists as a discipleship tool to help individuals make decisions. Influencing culture may be a result of discipleship, but it is not the point.

Because nations are made up of people, even Christians in an ungodly culture must realize that I may be part of the problem. The Psalmist wanted to make sure that nothing in his personal life was propelling a nation into the path of God's wrath. When believers are not focused on discipleship, the church veers off track.

The only proper emotional response for believers to ungodly people in our culture is pity, not mockery or anger. Even the apostles didn't take on the Roman empire in their day. Paul only references his political rights when it will help him promote the Gospel. He even wanted to share the Good News with Caesar himself!

The Need of Ungodly Nations

God's light and truth is the primary need of ungodly nations and the individuals in them (verse 3). Light represents an understanding of eternal life. Truth represents God's Word, the agent of change.

Ungodly nations need Christians in their midst to be led by God's light and truth (verse 3). We must be consistently in God's presence with His people. Ungodly nations need believers to be worshippers (verse 4) who put their hope in God. Unbelievers need to hear a song from the church that is distinct and different, worship that contrasts the music of the world instead of succumbing to it.

Your despair and disturbance at the state of the culture is a measure of your hope. God's people are not to walk around defeated. The true church will continue with her divine mission. Live in a way that is pleasing to God and deal with individuals in discipleship.

Application Points

When the moral state of our culture is disturbing, this Psalm gives many good points for self reflection.

  • Where do you put your hope -- in the ideas of culture or in God? Are there idols that need to be removed from your life?
  • What drives your thinking about significance? What do you get upset about? Are you excited about God's vision for the church or are you wrapped up in temporal pursuits?
  • Where do you find joy? Do you love being with God's people?
  • Are you discipling someone? Do you rely on institutions to do that job? The discipleship mandate was given to the whole church and every member in it.
  • Have you been caught up in fighting the ideological battle in our culture, and all the worry, fear, and anger that come along with it? Make sure your primary focus is on discipling individuals as God would have it.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:18-20 -- The church's discipleship mandate.
  • Matthew 5:14-16, 2 Corinthians 4:4-6, 1 John 1:7, 1 John 2:8-10, Ephesians 5:8-9, Philippians 2:15 -- Being light in our culture means sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Romans 12:1-2 -- New Testament worship.
A Hymn to Encourage: "O Love Divine"

O Love Divine, amazing love,
That brought to earth from Heaven above,
The Son of God for us to die,
That we might dwell on high.

He died for you, He died for me,
He shed His blood to make us free
Upon the cross of Calvary.
The Savior died for me.

For us a crown of thorns He wore,
For us a robe of scorn He bore,
He conquered death and rent the grave,
And lives again our souls to save.

O Wanderer, come; on Him believe,
His grace by faith receive,
Awake, arise and hear His call,
The feast is spread for all.