It’s a song of depression. Of a “cast down” soul. The seat of human emotions in deep despair as waves of unrelenting trials break over the songwriter. Day and night tears are the psalmist’s food as a voice echoes continually, “Where is your God?” The dire condition of the soul exacerbated with memories of better times, more hopeful times, times when singing at the top of your lungs was something you couldn’t help but do. And so, the soul of the songwriter, dry as a desert, pants for flowing streams, thirsting for the living God. Longing to know an end of drowning in waves of despair, and to again drink deeply from a fountain of living water.
But I’m wondering, as I chew on Psalm 42 this morning, if it doesn’t have to be an “either/or” thing but can actually be a “both/and” thing.
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 and my God.
(Psalm 42:11 ESV)
Twice the psalmist sings these words (verses 5-6a and verse 11). In modern song structure, I’d call this the refrain. It’s the chorus. The big idea the songwriter wants to get across. And if I’m picking up what the songwriter’s saying it’s that even in a soul’s cast down condition, even amidst the turbulence, it can hope in God. And in hoping in God, there can be refreshment for the soul.
Lift up the cast down eyes and fix them on the God of your salvation. Believe that He who has already delivered you from a life of bondage and slavery to sin will, one day, again deliver you from the burden and suffering of overwhelming sorrow. Hope in God.
Easy to type, harder to do. I know.
But the soul which thirsts for God can taste the goodness of God even as it yearns for God in the midst of seasons of confusion permitted by God. The desperation creating a situation where nothing else can satisfy and so, if only a drop of living water falls on the tongue through hope, the soul is encouraged. Encouraged to hope a greater hope, that by waiting on God and meditating on His word, that drop of living water can become a stream. And by the Spirit indwelling the child of God, that stream might even become a flowing river.
He is our God. He is our salvation — past, present, and future. We shall again praise Him.
So cast down soul, hope in God. And taste and see that the Lord is good.
Hope amidst despair. Water in a dry land. It can be a “both/and” thing.
By His grace. For His glory.