Psalm 42 – As the deer pants for the water.
How many of you having just read this Psalm, now have the familiar worship song going through your minds? – Or am I just showing my age?
Psalm 42 is the first of what is described as Book 2 of the Book of Psalms. It is a Psalm of the Sons of Korah and not a Psalm of David. King David had trained and put in place the Sons of Korah to lead worship in the tabernacle, they were from the line of Levites (1 Chronicles Ch.6). This Psalm is described as a Maskil in the heading, which I think is a term for a Psalm of teaching for worship, and from which we can learn.
There is a slightly darker side in the Psalm and not covered in the worship song; we have 2 sections to this Psalm, v1 – 6a and v6b – v11 both sections finishing with:
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
Rom 5:1 – 8 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The Sons of Korah were away from the tabernacle (v6) and missing worshipping with the congregation (v4). There is something about worshipping together which stirs us to hear from God and contribute to the body of worshippers, an encouragement to church and individual. The prayers, reading scripture and prophetic words certainly encourage and build people up. We are all missing this at the moment but we can encourage ourselves with personal worship of God and learn from this Psalm to go deeper.
There is a sense in this Psalm of God being distant (v6), but we know that from Hebrews Ch.13 we read the words “I will never leave you or forsake you” so we seek God even more in those times, drawing close to him whether we are thirsty as in v2 or drowning in v7.
We have a great hope in Jesus – I shall praise him again!