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?”
Many writers feel this is more than a simple, incidental thirst. This is a deeper, more desperate thirst. If you take the picture of a deer being pursued in a hunt by some predator, dogs perhaps, you can get a sense of the desperation of the Psalmist.
It’s not just that the deer could take a drink, but it is longing with thirst. It would die without a drink.
You see that desperation also in the thought of the Psalmist’s tears being his food day and night.
That is often how we feel when we are fighting discouragement. We know we need God; we know we can’t make it without Him, any more than the exhausted deer can carry on without a drink. Yet somehow God seems far off.
Instead of coming before God, we listen to the negativity around us: the scoffers, the misunderstanding ones, the uncaring—maybe even the well-meaning. And we can develop the feeling that God is not present.
We nurse our wounds and have a little pity party hosted by ourselves in honor of ourselves: our tears, our hurts, our frustrations become our food, and we come back for seconds, thirds—we are gluttons for self-pity.
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.
One of the most common feelings of discouragement is loneliness. We find it easy to think that we are the only ones going through something like this or that we are the only ones who have ever felt this way. We may find it easy to believe that no one cares about us, that everyone has forgotten us, or worse–that everyone is against us.
We remember the good ole days with fondness. It was never this bad when [insert whatever feeling or relationship or thing it is you may be missing]. We think things would go back to being perfect if only… if only…
And we can feel that we’ll never get through this hard time; we’ll never be able to rejoice again. Everyone else can go around with smiles on their faces and hallelujahs on their lips, but if they had to go through what I’m facing!
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.
The Psalm takes a turn here for a moment of reflection. Think about it. Really think about it. What is really getting you down? That thing? That person? That circumstance? Really?
Hope in God. It’s that simple.
Maybe not always that easy, but always that simple. We simply have to change our attitude, change our focus, and put our hope in God. And why not? We, His children, know we will yet praise Him because we know He will help His. His face will shine on us.
O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, And from the heights of Hermon, From the Hill Mizar. Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me.
When we are discouraged, and we are in the midst of some difficult things, we must remember the Lord.
Perhaps our life truly is a storm at times. The waves crash over us, the noise is deafening, we cannot see the sun. But notice the Psalmist’s focus here as he remembers the Lord. Whose storm is it? Whose waterfall? Whose waves and billows?
He does not blame the Lord for these difficult times, but he recognizes that these things are in God’s hands. God decides what He’ll allow to come our way. So whether we are down in the valley of Jordan or climbing the heights of Hermon or trekking the hill of Mizar, we can remember the Lord.
Who is God? Do you know Him? Has He been faithful? Has He cared for you, loved you, guided you as a shepherd does his lambs?
Remember the Lord in your discouragement.
The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me— A prayer to the God of my life.
When we remember the Lord, then even in the midst of our troubled circumstances, He will be our sunshine of lovingkindness and our night of song. You can’t sleep because of your stresses or worries or heartbreak? Remember the Lord, and He will give you a song in the night.
In the night watches when the enemy is working against your mind and stealing your sleep, don’t give in. Don’t let the enemy win. Go to the God who is your life and song in prayer. He will meet you there.
Train yourself to pray as soon as you feel whatever source of discouragement you face creeping up—or crashing down!—on you.
“Oh, what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”
“Oh, how praying rests the weary; prayer will change the night to day. So when life seems dark and dreary, don’t forget to pray.”
I will say to God my Rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As with a breaking of my bones, My enemies reproach me, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
It is thought the sons of Korah may have written this song during the Babylonian exile. If so, you can see how this song would have resonated with many of God’s people at the time. Knowing this poem was constructed by some choristers for intentional use in worship, I think I see a poetic device here with this thought.
It feels to me the poet is tying back to the opening of the song to ponder where our discouraged hearts had been. This then feels like a somewhat ironic segment. We’ve been brought back to remembering the Lord; we know that He will be everything we need. Having reestablished those truths, doesn’t it seem almost silly for us to ask God, “Why have you forgotten me?”
I don’t know if that was their intention in writing, but it’s something we can apply to ourselves. We know God is our Rock; we know He is immovable, always faithful, always there. Therefore, we know when fear or anxiety, worry, hurts—you name it—when those things begin to overwhelm us, we know that is foolish thinking.
Why? Because we can put our hope securely in God. We can yet praise Him because He will help us in our dark times. To His people, He is our Savior and our God.
Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”
Psalm 42:1-11 NKJV