The songwriter pants for flowing streams of fresh water. Instead, salty tears are his food day and night. He longs for the days of yesterday when he often got to lead a festive parade up to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise. But these days, he’s just trying to keep his head above water. Trials breaking over him, one after another, as deep calls to deep. Like being stuck under a unrestrained waterfall — a waterfall, he says, at God’s hand — breakers and wavers crashing over him continually.
No wonder then that in Psalms 42 and 43 the psalmist repeatedly tries to battle the drowning of his soul by reminding his heart of his hope in God.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation
(Psalm 42:5, Psalm 42:11, Psalm 43:5 ESV)
Lot of questions in these two songs. Why are you cast down, my soul? When shall I come and appear before God again (42:2b)? Where is your God (42:3b)? Why have You forgotten me (42:9a)? Why have You rejected me (43:2a)? Why this perpetual mourning because of the oppression of the enemy (42:9b, 43:2b)? Why is this happening? When will it stop? Where are You in all of this? The questions of a cast down soul.
But there’s also an ask. In Psalm 43. I think it’s the only petition of God in these two songs. Seems to me to be a key ask in situations where the only thing you seem to be able to do is try and keep your head above water. It’s a lifeline ask when you seem to be drowning.
Send out Your light and Your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise You with the lyre, O God, my God.
(Psalm 43:3-4 ESV)
Send out Your light. Show me Your truth. I know that they will keep me tethered to Your holy hill. I know that they will show me the way back to again singing praise before Your altar.
Send out Your light. Show me Your truth. That’s the ask of a cast down soul.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
(Psalm 119:105 ESV)
The written Word of God is a lifeline in seasons when deep calls out to deep. Holding on to God’s living, active, mind-renewing, life-transforming Word is what gets you through the storms. Where is God? In His word. Is He absent? Not when I’m reading, seeking, asking, and His Spirit is actively illuminating, answering, consoling. Providing, in a sense, an on demand encounter of the divine kind. And in its light and truth is the substance for the hope the songwriter wants his downcast soul to be reminded of. The certainty that the God who saved him, and is saving him, is the God who will surely one day save him. And in that day, there will again be rejoicing. The Word a lamp and light because it points to the Source of light and life!
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
(Psalm 27:1 ESV)
Jesus, the living Word, the Author of Life, is the stronghold of life in times when life is overwhelming. The great High Priest able to sympathize with our weakness. The faithful Mediator who intercedes for us at the right hand of God. The once forever Victor in whom we are more than conquerors. The cross our strength in weakness. The empty tomb our hope amid despair. Send out Your light. Jesus is the light of the world. Show me Your truth. He is the truth, the way, and the life.
Why are you cast down, O my soul? Send out Your light and Your truth, O my God! Because of Your steadfast love.
Your overflowing grace sufficient to endure the relentless storm tossed breakers crashing overhead as deep calls out to deep.
Your Word, my lamp. Your Son, my light and truth. Lifelines until the tempest calms.
For my good. For Your glory.