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. – Psalm 42:5, NIV
Why are you so torn? Why so lost? Where has your hope gone? Why so anxious? So worried? In this Psalm, as well as Psalm 43, this verse is repeated two other times. The Psalm strikes me as it is filled with such emotion. The writers start out in verse 1 by recognizing their need. They recognize what their soul is longing for. I pray and hope that we would stop trying to fill our thirst with all these other things of this world. The writers recognized the only thing that could fill their thirst. But what strong and powerful words that are used, “…my soul pants for you, my God.” (italics mine)
You can almost feel their emotion. I can just imagine these sons of Korah on their knees almost writhing in pain, pounding the ground with their arms. Then opening their arms open with tears in their eyes almost with a loud voice filled with hurt and pain. They know they need their God. They know nothing else will do. “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (verse 2). They remind us that where we need to be in our hurt and pain is in the presence of God. When we feel so low and are left so unsatisfied with things of this world, they know the only thing that will satisfy is God. The only thing that gives them hope. The only thing that can satisfy their hunger. Their souls long to be with God. To drink from His infinite well and they will stop at nothing to do that. As they cry out, they just want to know when they will be with God. They want to be where the Fountain of Life is. “When?” they ask.
Oh how we feel their pain. How we feel what they are saying. Those times when nothing will do. As our longings for heaven grow stronger, we know there isn’t something right with this world. We know we weren’t made for it. Our soul longs to be in the garden again taking a stroll in the cool of the day with our Father. What beautiful those longings are. But oh how we try to satisfy those longings with things that do not matter.
As the enemy attacks us, we fall into traps of trying to fill these deep longings for a closeness to God with superficial desires. That in turn leads the enemy to tempt us with the thoughts that the people said in verse 3, “Where is your God?” A problem is that He has been here the whole time, but we took matters into our own hands and tried to fill those longings with the things of this world. Whether that is money, relationships, power, security, fame, success, sex, drugs, alcohol or whatever it may be, these things leave us empty and only more aware of our thirst. Our soul becomes even more aware. It becomes downcast because we haven’t been in communion with its food. It needs the nourishment that comes from God. It needs that connection of being fed. Being fed essentially from the inside out. While we struggle to work on the cleaning the outside of the cup like the Pharisees, the inside (crucial longings) get ignored. Our soul as this verse points out becomes disturbed. It becomes sad and depressed because the only thing that can bring it joy is the hope of God. The communion that comes from being with the Almighty Father.
What I love in the second part of this verse is that you can almost feel a quick change in the emotions of the writers. To go from so sad, so down, so depressed and writhing on the floor by not having that fellowship with God, that it is almost like the Spirit pokes them and reminds them, “Put your hope in God…”. This is a great reminder for us. As the enemy attacks and life brings us down, this points us to put our hope in God. Only God. As we do that, our hearts and souls will turn to praise Him.
We will quickly be reminded how good our God is and who He is that even in all the hurt and pain and toil and torment, we will want to praise God because He is working in us. He has a plan and is in control. As it states in verse 6, “…therefore I will remember you…” we will need to remember who God is, what He has done and how all things are possible. As we remember who God is and what He can do, as we put our hope in Him, we will be swept over with peace and the reminders of a great and powerful God. “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. (verse 7)” But the writers don’t just leave us there to be in the sea of God’s grace, but shows that God (verse 8) “directs his love, at night his song is with me…” God is with us and loves us. In the midst of these hard times, even when we have dug our own cisterns, God loves us and is pointing His love toward us.
The writers finish this Psalm with a prayer and so should we turn to God in prayer. So should we talk to God and being in communion and fellowship with Him. He will lead us and direct us. And thankfully we never have to worry that God will leave us or forget us. We have a God of hope and love. We have a Savior that is worthy of praise. As we long and seek to fill this thirst, I pray that our thirst will grow and that we will drink from the unending well that is the Great and Almighty God. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ during His temptation told Satan clearly, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Turn your thirst to God and pant after Him. Drink from Him and experience the rest and joy of being satisfied in Him. Eat from the Bread of Life!