Psalms 42-43 (ESV)
To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.
42:1 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.
5 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 6 and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.
8 By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”
11 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.
43:1 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!
2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
3 Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
4 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.
5 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.
Day 1: Loving God
In verses 7-8, the psalmist compares his plight to being swallowed up by the waves, “Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.” The phrase “deep calls to deep” recalls the cosmic scale of God’s creation and flood judgment during the days of Noah. For example, the waters of the formless void before God filled it is called “the deep“ in Genesis 1:2, and when the flood waters of God’s judgment descends during Noah’s days in Genesis 7:11, it says that “the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.” Similarly, Exodus 15:5 describes the Red Sea swallowing up the Egyptians this was, “the floods,” or literally, “the deeps covered them; they went down into the depths like a stone.” In light of this background, “Deep calls to deep” probably refers to the waters falling from the deeps of heaven to fill up the deeps of the ocean. But as the flood waters of God descend upon us from the “deep” above, even as we feel like we’re drowning in the “deep” below, we are to call out to God from “deep … to deep.” In this way, the psalmist “pour[s] out [his] soul” (42:4). verse 4. Notice the water metaphor, “pour out.” The psalmist does not bottle up his emotions, or try to sanitize his feelings—he “pour[s] out his soul“ to God.
But even as he pours out his soul to God, the psalmist continues to process his feelings and “remember[s]” God’s steadfast love in Psalm 42 Verses 4 and 6. And he addresses his own soul, reminding himself of who God is three times throughout the psalm: “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” (42:4, 11; 43:5). This is what we, too, must do. Don’t just listen to your doubts and fears, tell yourself that God is sovereign and good and faithful and true! Don’t just listen to your guilt and self-condemnation, tell yourself that when sin abounds, God’s grace abounds all the more, tell yourself that Jesus died on the cross to justify the unrighteous! Don’t just listen to your feeling of abandonment and forsakenness, tell yourself that God has adopted you as His child and that He loves you with an everlasting love!
Recommended Song: “Lord, from Sorrows Deep I Call” by Matt Boswell, Matt Papa (Find it on our church’s Spotify playlist, “Trinity Hymnal,” at http://bit.do/trinityhymnal)
Cry out honestly to God from “the deeps” of your disappointments, depression, grief, and sorrow, asking Him to intervene.
Confess the lies that you are “listening” to and believing about God, and exhort yourself with truths by praising God for who He is and all that He has done.
Pray that God would help you to grow in your prayer life, so that the kind of honest lament and bold prayer would be a normal aspect of your relationship with God.
Day 2: Loving One Another
In verse 6, he tells us that he is in “the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar,” the northern extremities of Israel where the mountain ranges meet the seas. He longs to “appear before God” (42:2), but his circumstances prevent him from doing that, and while he is cut off from God, his enemies taunt him in verse 3 “all the day long, ‘Where is your God?'” He remembers with longing: “how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival” (42:4). So desperate is this longing that, the psalmist says, “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?” Deer don’t normally drink a lot of water, because they get most of their water supply from inside the foods they consume, like plants and nuts. But when there is a drought, or in desert climates like Palestine with occasional, prolonged seasons without rain, deer get desperate for water, because either there is not enough food or the food is dry, so they don’t get enough water from them. That’s when they start wandering around in search of a flowing stream, and as they do that, they pant in order to cool themselves down, rapidly expelling hot air and inhaling cool air. “So pants my soul for you, O God.”
Recommended Song: “As the Deer” by David Phelps (Find it on our church’s Spotify playlist, “Trinity Hymnal,” at http://bit.do/trinityhymnal)
Pray that our church would long to worship God with the fellow saints and prioritize the corporate gathering.
Pray for church members who are depressed and don’t feel like getting up in the morning and often miss Sundays, that God would help them to seek Him with desperate thirst, and depend on Him all the more when they feel dry.
Pray that we would be a church that laments well, and loves and counsels well those who are in the valleys.
Day 3: Sharing the Love of Christ with Others
There is a fascinating parallel between Psalm 42 and Jonah’s prayer in Jonah 2:3-6. From inside the belly of the fish, Jonah prays, “For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me.” That last phrase, “all your waves and your billows passed over me,” is in Hebrew identical to Psalm 42:7, “all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.” But that’s not all, the parallels continue. Jonah 2:4-6 continue, “Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God.” It seems like Prophet Jonah is consciously echoing the words of Psalm 42 to describe his situation. Just like the psalmist, he feels that he is “driven away from [God’s] sight” and longs for the “holy temple,” just like the psalmist who feels like the flood waters are swallowing him up at the root of Mounts Hermon and Mizar, Jonah feels the “waters clos[ing] in over [him]” “at the root of the mountains.” And just like the psalmist, Jonah prays with faith that God will “[bring] up [his] life from the pit.”
Psalms 42-43, then, were fulfilled ultimately by Jesus, because Jesus said in Matthew 12:40 that He Himself is the sign of Jonah, saying, “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Jesus went down to “the deep” when He died on the cross for our sins and was buried in the grave. But He rose again on the third day, having defeated sin and death, so that we might receive “salvation”! Jesus went down to the deep in our place, so that we, sinners though we are, do not have to. That means, no matter how deeply painful our suffering, we will never ever descend to that deep. In this way, Jesus is the ultimate answer to the psalmist’s abiding hope in the LORD in the midst of his suffering. Jesus is the reason why we can speak to our souls, no matter what suffering comes our way, “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
Recommended Song: “Christ Our Hope in Life and Death” by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa (Find it on our church’s Spotify playlist, “Trinity Hymnal,” at http://bit.do/trinityhymnal)
Pray that we would recognize the urgency of evangelism, seeing that, apart from hope in Christ, unbelievers live on the precipice of the deeps of death.
Pray for the new Evangelism Team leaders Bailey McLernon and Jerray Chang, that God would give them love, zeal, and creative ideas to equip and lead the church well in evangelism.
Pray that unbelievers in our midst would come to faith in Jesus and get baptized.
Pray for a few of your unbelieving neighbors by name, for boldness and opportunities for you to share the gospel with them.