As the deer pants for streams of water,Psalm 42:1-2 NIV
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?
Do you ever experience times when your soul feels dry, and God seems far away? That seems to be the occasion for this psalm. The author is remembering a time when he was free to go to the temple to worship with joy and praise, along with the festive throng. But that time is only a memory for him now.
The psalmist is left only with memories and a longing for God’s intimate presence. His soul is dry, and thirsting for God. He is longing for an encounter with God. Why is he in this condition? The psalm does not address that. It might be because of something he has done himself. But it could just as easily be because of the actions of others. He might even be in exile in Babylon and far away from home.
Choosing To Hope and Praise
Why, my soul, are you downcast?Psalm 42:11 NIV
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
But how he responds to his circumstances is instructional. He chastens himself for being downcast and discouraged. And he chooses instead to put his hope in God, looking forward to restoration and the opportunities he will yet have to praise God.
Having mountain top experiences with God is wonderful. But the valleys between those mountain tops are very real as well. And they are important as a time of growth in the life of the believer.
How do you respond while walking through “the valley of the shadow of death”? Rather than be discouraged by it, join with the psalmist in continuing to put your hope in God, even when he seems to be distant.