LONGING HOPE – Psalm 42
Read and pray through Psalm 42 (Psalm 42).
Though it is not explicitly indicated, some interpreters believe David was the author of this psalm as its overall style and composition bears all the trademarks of one of David’s songs. If David did pen this psalm, he probably wrote it when he was exiled by Saul. However, some argue, given the extended length of time implied in this psalm, it also could have been written during Absalom’s rebellion.
Either way, David laments feeling isolated, particularly from God. Interestingly, one of David’s key frustrations is that he does not have access to the sanctuary or the house of God. Like a deer thirsting for water, David longs for physical contact, to be able to access what is familiar in order to experience the Lord’ s presence. How many of us can intimately relate to what David describes here?
For me, one of the most compelling things about God’s word is the way it can speak to us right where we are. The inspiration of the Spirit both prompted and opened up the various authors of the Bible to write with raw honesty, both in seasons of rejoicing and those of sorrow. In this way, our Creator, through the scriptures, encourages us to honestly and freely pour out our longings and our lament to Him along with our praises. A prayer like Psalm 42 is not a sign of weak faith. Our longing for the Lord is the sign of our spiritual health, that our deepest desire is to abide in God’s presence.
It is in the seasons of drought that the depth or shallowness of the roots of our relationship with God become exposed. And the roots of David’s relationship run deep even as he does not have access to the sanctuary or any of the traditional means of access to God, David abides in the hope of the Lord. In his dryness, emptied of all he once held dear, three times David declares, “Hope in God.” David holds onto something that is not yet realized. Notice, David doesn’t say he is praising God right now but that “I shall again praise him.”
How can David have hope even before hope arrives? How can we? While not denying the actual pain of his present situation, David also recalls not false but very real memories of God’s faithfulness in the past. Rather than allowing the memories of what once was, to keep him in a vicious cycle of lament in the present, David chooses to focus on Who was faithful to him in the past in order to gain hope for the future.
Right now, we can remain stuck agonizing over what we have lost. Or like David, we can find hope in what will happen because we choose to remember the One who provided all the good that has happened in our past. Let us cry out to God with longing hope. May we honestly share the depths of our longing with the Lord even as we persist in anticipating how the Lord graciously will eventually satisfy our thirst for His presence. That God was faithful means God is still faithful and God will continue to be faithful.
Consider and Discuss | Think of a prior time you experienced a season of drought in your life. How did the Lord prove Himself to be faithful to you in the midst of that season of time?
Prayer | Lord, we thirst for more of You. Please fill us again as we come to drink from Your Word today. Amen.