Psalm 42 — Do you feel cast down? — Reading the Psalms

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For the Chief Musician; Maschil of the sons of Korah.

1 As the hart panteth after the water brooks,
So panteth my soul after thee, O God.
2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God:
When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my meat day and night,
While they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?
4 These things I remember, and pour out my soul within me,
How I went with the throng, and led them to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and praise, a multitude keeping holyday.
5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul?
And why art thou disquieted within me?
Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him
For the health of his countenance.
6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me:
Therefore do I remember thee from the land of Jordan,
And the Hermons, from the hill Mizar.
7 Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts:
All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.
8 Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the day-time,
And in the night his song shall be with me,
Even a prayer unto the God of my life.
9 I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me?
Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
10 As with a sword in my bones, mine adversaries reproach me;
While they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?
11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul?
And why art thou disquieted within me?
Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him,
Who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

This is the beginning of the second book or part within the whole book of psalms. There are interesting studies into the divisions of the psalms. You may be really interested by looking into them! What I want to focus on, however, is the refrain in this psalm found in vs. 5 and 11: “Why are you cast down, O my soul?”

It is a question I’ve asked myself many a time, though usually without the archaic language. More likely, it comes out as “What’s wrong with me today?” It’s an important realization for our heart to recognize our low times. In them we learn to thirst for the Spirit of God like a deer thirsts for water. When our tears are flowing, let them flow toward the Lord who alone can help our souls.

Sometimes, like what we see in vs. 4, we can find help in simply joining with fellow Christians in worship at church. Sometimes, like what we see in vs. 7, it is by recognizing the deep power of the Lord. The water will undoubtedly flow over my head, for I have no height. It is by the power of God alone that I can survive. That is why I need God my rock to sustain and support me. Others may laugh to scorn my love of God; it does not matter. God will help me to stand.

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