Meditating on Psalm 42 this morning. And, if I’m honest, I’m probably more in the “downcast soul” condition (v. 5) than I am in “lead others to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise” frame of mind (v.4). Easy to relate to the quicksand experience of the songwriter as his soul thirsts and pants for the living God (vv. 1-2) even as he’s barely able to catch his breath because of the waterfalls, breakers, and waves crashing over him (v.7).
But the impact of the song is in more than just the relatable way in which it describes the malady. It’s the life-giving manner in which it reminds of the remedy.
Hope in God. That’s the answer. The songwriter penning it twice in case we miss it the first time.
Remind yourself of who God is. Remember the deliverance He’s provided. Recall what He has promised. Rejoice in that He is ever faithful and unchanging. Then declare again His praise.
Hope in God. Not necessarily easy to do . . . but not complicated either.
I have posted repeatedly on Psalm 42 over the years. More often than not it’s been the daily reading that captured my thoughts above the other readings. And so I’ve been going back and reading those old posts and letting those thoughts be my encouragement this morning. Last year’s brought back hard memories but 2014’s musings were a source of encouragement this morning. Sharing again those thoughts from 2014 with you . . .
I’ve got to think that most people can relate to the overall tone of Psalm 42. It’s the dirge rhythm of a downcast soul. The oppressive feeling of despair. That sinking feeling that breaks like waves over your whole being. Even when you recognize that you’re “going blue” and try to power out of it with reason and logic, the turmoil persists. And, for the believer, . . . for the one who has known relationship with the living God . . . the despair evokes a barrenness . . . the sense of communion and fellowship having dried up like a drought inflicted water bed. And out of such dryness comes a thirst . . .
As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
(Psalm 42:1-2 ESV)
Though the emotion might cloud out its articulation, that’s what the believer’s soul longs for. Living water flowing abundantly from the living God. To enter again into the throne room and know His radiating glory. The psalmist recalls a time when he would lead the processional to the house of God to worship and praise the Rock of his salvation. How he longed for such times again. For weeping in the night to yield to joy in the morning (Ps. 30:5). For mourning to give way to dancing (Ps. 30:11). For the spirit of heaviness to be clothed with garments of praise (Isa. 61:3).
And so the songwriter encourages himself, “Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him.” Keep on keepin’ on.
And in the midst of this melancholy melody, I take note of a familiar dynamic . . . grace by day and songs at night.
By day the LORD commands His steadfast love,
and at night His song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
(Psalm 42:8 ESV)
It is the dynamic of a faithful God . . . a God whose mercies are new every morning . . . and His grace sufficient for the day. That dynamic where His Spirit intercedes with my spirit reminding me that, though He may feel to be distant, my God commands His steadfast love over His children at all times . . . “For I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Though my spiritual senses may have grown dim, His abiding presence has not changed. And so by day, His steadfast love continues to flow.
And then, there’s that night when the dawn starts to break. Having made it through another day, you recognize His faithful hand through every day. And the thirsty soul starts to drink again from the eternal springs of heaven . . . and a song arises . . . and a conversation is rekindled . . . and worship ascends to “the God of my life.”
To be honest, I’m not crazy about experiencing a downcast soul. Don’t much care for it. But through it, to know afresh my God is faithful is a good thing . . . to have another verse to sing in the new song He has given me (Ps. 40:3) is a blessing.
His abiding faithfulness and His abundant grace by day . . . my songs of gratitude and praise at night.
For His glory . . .