"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?" (Psa 42:1-2)
Do you thirst for God? Really thirst for Him? The psalmist does. The psalmist is eager for God. "When can I go and meet with God?" (v. 2)
Say this line aloud with me. "When can I go and meet with God?" Now donít say it like youíre going ot the dentist! Try again. Say it with the eagerness of a child on Christmas morning, "When can I go and meet with God?" Now say it with the anticipation of a bride about to walk down the aisle, "When can I go and meet with God?" Now say it with the desperation of a soldier oversees waiting for news that he can go home, "When can I go and meet with God?"
The psalmistís words are full of eagerness and anticipation. When we read Psalm 42:1-2 we tend to picture the psalmist on a warm sunny day relaxing beside a stream and watching a deer quaintly lap up water. At least I always did. But thatís because I never got to verse three.
"My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, 'Where is your God?'" (v.3)
The psalmistís words are also a cry of desperation.
Here's another picture for you. The psalmist, breathless from running, is suffering in physical pain and emotional turmoil. He collapses to his knees by a stream to wet his parched throat and cool his hot face. Looking up he sees a deer lapping for all its little tongue can lap. And just as his overwhelming problems seem so vivid, suddenly so does the very desire of his heart, to be with God. To praise God. Wearily he lifts his hands high into the air and begins to praise God.
"Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God." (v. 5)
Now I don't really know if the psalmist fell to his knees before a stream or saw a deer. But I do know he lifted his hands to praise God. How do I know this? Because of the word he chose to use here.
The word which was translated "praise" in verses 5 and 11 is the Hebrew word 'yadah' which includes in its definition of praise an extension of the hands toward God. When I first discovered that word there, I was awed. It suddenly hit me what the psalmist was saying. Even in the midst of his pain, even though his emotions are down, he is going to lift his hands in praise to God. Thatís how much he longs for God.
Itís like a toddler lifting her hands for Daddy to pick her up.
Itís like a person who is drowning lifting his hands so the life guard will see and rescue.
Itís like a criminal turning himself in saying ďOkay, I give up. I canít do this anymore. I surrender.Ē
Itís like a spectator at a sports game with her hands lifted high exalting the players.
Itís the picture of Job after he has lost everything, saying ďThe Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. May the name of the Lord be praised.Ē
Itís the picture of Jonah sitting in the slimy stomach of the whale surrendering his will to Godís.
It's the picture of Paul and Silas praying and singing in prison after they had been severely beaten up.
Itís when we come to the end of our rope and realize that God is still there. Waiting for us. Holding us. Loving us.
So we raise our hands to our Heavenly Father in surrender and in praise, desiring nothing but God Himself.
"My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?"