April 02 2023
Today, Sunday April 2
What Does Your Soul Long For?
As the deer pants for the water brooks, 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? My tears have been my food day and night, While they continually say to me, "Where is your God?" When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast. Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.”
We are not entirely sure who was the writer of Psalms 42-43. From the context though, it is possible that the unnamed writer was a Levite who had been exiled among Gentiles (43:1). The text of these two Psalms reveal that these Gentiles oppressed him and questioned his faith (42:3, 10; 43:2). We also learn from the text that this exiled Levite was a worship leader who had led groups of pilgrims to Jerusalem for the assigned festivals (Psalm 84:7; Ex. 23:14-17; 34:18-26; Deut. 16:1-17).
As you read these two Psalms you get the idea that it was time for such a journey, but he wasn't able to go, and this grieved his heart because he felt that the Lord had forgotten him (42:9; 43:2). But one thing is very obvious, and that is whoever he is, he had a heart that longed for fellowship and communion with God. Does your heart long for the “living God”?
During a drought, the writer saw a female deer (hind) panting and struggling to reach water to quench her thirst (Joel 1:20), and this reminded him that he thirsted for the Lord and wanted to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The God he longed for was “the living God” (v. 2) and was “the God of his life” (v. 8). He felt that he could not live without Him. Note that the essentials for physical life are mentioned here: air (panting), water (v. 2), and food (v. 3), but without worship (v. 4), life to him was meaningless.
Hunger and thirst are familiar images of the quest for fellowship with God and the satisfaction it brings (Psalm 36:8-9; 63:1; Matt. 5:6; John 4:10-14; 7:37-39; Rev. 21:6; 22:17). Day and night (vv. 3, 8) he felt the pain caused by separation from God's sanctuary and by the constant ridicule of the people around him. He "fed" on his grief (not a wise thing to do) as his tears became his bread. His weeping and longing for God was as regular as his eating had been.
"Where is your God?" (vv. 3, 10) was a standard question the Gentile idolaters asked the Jews (Psalms 79:10; 115:2; Joel 2:17; Micah 7:10; see Matt. 27:43). However, the question indicates that the writer must have been a devout believer who wasn't ashamed of his faith; otherwise, his tormentors wouldn't have questioned him. He remembered better days when he used to lead processions of pilgrims to Jerusalem to celebrate the feasts.
Memory can be either a blessed medicine for the troubled heart or it can open new wounds and keep the pain fresh. The writer poured out his soul in prayer (v. 4), pleading for the Lord to set him free and take him back to Jerusalem. We see a similar prayer in Psalm 84:1-2; “How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.”
But then he confronted himself (v. 5) and admonished himself not to be downcast but to hope in the Lord and wait on Him. The repetition of this admonition (v. 11; 43:5) suggests that the writer was having his "ups and downs" as he struggled with his circumstances and himself. He would find his consolation and peace only in the Lord, and not in nature (vv. 1, 6-7), not in memories (v. 4), or in nursing grief (v. 3). His hopes had been shattered, his prayers were unanswered, his enemies were vocal, and his feelings were more than he could handle, but God was still on the throne. God's presence was with him, and he would yet have the joy of worshiping God in Jerusalem. That was God's promise in His covenant (Deut. 30).
Is your heart empty and you feel restless and all alone? Jesus promised us that if we would “thirst and hunger after His righteousness we would be filled” (Matthew 5:6). Do you desire the Lord more than anything or anyone else in your life? Jesus also promised us in Matthew 11:28-30; “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Yes, my friend, He is only a prayer away! By faith, come to Jesus today!