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Psalm 42 – Thirsting for the Rock
by Gary Sims
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The Psalms
Psalm 42 – Thirsting for the Rock

Key Verses:
  • 1: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” – The psalmist is desperately thirsting for God’s living waters.

  • 2b: “Where can I go and meet with God?” – Perhaps the psalmist is separated from the temple where he normally worships, or, maybe, he is spiritually separated from God through life’s circumstances. Either way, he craves to return to a state of being close to God.

  • 3: “My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’” – When struggling through times of trouble and pain all that seems to matter is our suffering.

  • 4: “Things I remember as I pour out my soul…” – During times of depression it is important to reflect on and remember the times when things were not so bleak.

  • 7: “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” – The events that have flooded into his life and caused the psalmist’s anguish have come from God.

  • 8: “By day the Lord directs His love, at night His song is with me – a prayer to the God of my life.” – A prayer of hope.

  • 9: “I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?’” – Firm and solid in his faith, the psalmist turns to God for guidance, wisdom, and hope.

  • 11: “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?” – Nothing should be so bleak to keep us from praising God.
Points to Contemplate:
    Does your soul long for the Lord? Is God your heart’s desire? Is there a growing desperation within you to be filled by His glory and quenched by His love? Is there an emptiness within you that can only be filled by God? Where can you go and be with God? Is it a physical place such as a sanctuary or a garden? Or is the “going” a state of mind? When your soul cries out from emptiness, do you simply need to focus on God’s love and allow Him to fill you with His Spirit?

  • Where do you go when you are in the depths of despair? Who do you turn to when your only food seems to be the salt from your tears? In times such as these, do you wonder “where is your God?” Does it help to remember the “good times?” Can you go back to a time when you felt very close to God and recreate that moment? Will it help to “pour out your soul?” Can you turn everything over to God? Can you release your hurts, hang-ups, habits, pain, and suffering into His loving hands? Can you relinquish control of your life and have faith in God?

  • Does God send suffering to you for a reason? Is He testing you? Is He trying to grow you and prepare you for future ministry through these experiences? During these afflictions do you recognize that God also sends you the grace to bear them?1

  • Do you ask God “why?” Why did this event of pain have to occur? Why do you feel so alone? Why does it feel that God has forgotten you? Why are you being attacked and oppressed by “the enemy?” Why must you go on mourning? Why is your soul downcast and disturbed? Is the asking of these questions a step of faith? Are you not recognizing God’s supreme authority over all things and turning to Him because there is no other place to turn? Do you see how in asking questions such as these that it becomes an important element of your growth and dependency on God? Is this one way how we experience God’s rock-like faithfulness?
Promise of the Gospel:

Within our souls God has created a desire to know Him and to grow closer to Him. It is as essential to our being as water is to a thirsty deer on a hot, dry day. In times of trials and tribulations, our thirst for Him becomes more evident. Even though He never is apart from us, our situations can cause us to feel separated. As this feeling of separation grows, so does our desire to be with Him. We cry out, “why have your forgotten me?” It is in the recognition that we need Him, that we cannot manage our lives without Him, where we learn that He is in control of all things and His grace is sufficient to carry us through. The more we turn to Him, the more we realize that He is forever faithful. He is our Rock and our Redeemer.

1“One of the greatest evidences of God's love to those that love him is to send them afflictions, with the grace to bear them. Even in the greatest afflictions, we ought to testify to God that, in receiving them from his hand, we feel pleasure in the midst of pain, from being afflicted by him who loves us, and whom we love.” - John Wesley, "Christian Behavior."

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