A psalmist, feeling forlorn and far from Jerusalem, the Holy City he loves, sits in front of his cabin. He watches a deer across the field, moving in and out of scrub trees, searching for water. The psalmist reaches for his writing tablet.
What can be going on in this lonely stranger’s life? What prompts his sudden reach for his tablet? Imagine with me.
This must be a believer who feels strangely disconnected from his God, his spiritual source, and is therefore in distress. He writes:
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
Four times in the first two verses he makes reference to God, once even calling him the “living God.” That is, God is no mere idol, but a Living Presence. But it doesn’t seem to help.
My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, ”Where is your God?”
His emotions run deep, and he thinks, some friends! They taunt him because he has temporarily lost his sense of faith as a living reality. A cup of cold water or a few words of encouragement would have been better.
The psalmist reviews the past.
These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.
He has known days of glorious worship with his fellows. And public worship had in the past been deeply enriching.
In summary, it appears that the psalmist now feels alone. His associates are discomfiting; he has been cut off from the rejoicing throng whose company once strengthened his faith. Yet he talks to himself in the language of hope.
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
He does what people of faith often do; he confesses to God and himself his discouragement but then looks to the future, telling himself that days of praise will be restored and that will be his hope. People of faith who come upon what some call “dry times” fan the embers of faith in this way and carry on trustingly until assurance is restored.
The psalmist knows his distress is only temporary. Faith will return. He can rest in that certainty. And with him, we too can say in times of discomfort and uncertainty: “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
(We will continue our trip of imagination through Psalm 42 in the next blog.)
Photo credit: magnetismus (via flickr.com)