“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.”
Psalm 42:1-4 ESV
As we have learned before, the Psalmists were no strangers to suffering. In this particular Psalm, the author experienced a dire spiritual drought, panting and thirsting for the living God. This is not the first and certainly not the last time that God’s presence is compared to that of life-giving water or, in this case, “flowing streams”.
Fast forward to the New Testament when Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman by the well – “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14, emphasis added)
Fast forward even further into the last book in the Bible, this same Jesus says: “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.” (Revelation 21:6, emphasis added).
We can certainly relate to the dire thirst of the psalmist, as we have watched our country burn in the last week. Some of us can even relate to the physical thirst, because of the subsequent food shortages. We can certainly relate to tears being our food day and night, as we have heard and watched the chaos unfold. The curse of sin and fallen nature of mankind we have seen with our very eyes.
Where does one go to for help in these times? What does one say to bring peace to an anxious child, when your own heart is restless? What can bring hope and comfort when the sound of gunshots, sirens and helicopters disturb our sleep? How do we pray and what do we ask for? What do we do when our circumstances are shouting at us, “Where is your God?”
What does the Psalmist do? He remembers: “…how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.”
Many people, myself included, have shared with me how singing or listening to songs of worship and praise have lifted their spirits at these difficult times. Often, we don’t know how to pray or what to pray for, but we can join in songs of praise and prayer to God, as we echo the words of the song to Him. The Psalmist goes on to say: “By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life (Psalm 42:8, emphasis added). It isn’t a coincidence that the best hymns or songs of praise are often those that are taken out of Scripture.
American pastor and theologian, Joel Beeke, said that we should breathe in God’s Word and breathe it out back to Him in prayer – what an awesome thing to do in these difficult times! The Psalms and epistles of Paul are filled with many heartfelt prayers that we can echo straight back to God in our hour of need, when words fail us.
Through prayer and song, we remember that God gave us His life-giving water in and through the person of Jesus Christ, bringing salvation to His people by His death on the cross and His resurrection and ascension. That was His life-giving sacrifice, once and for all – the whole Bible is a witness to this. Not only do we have the Bible, but we have the the seal of the Holy Spirit “who intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)
I encourage you to read through the Psalms, to breathe in God’s Word, and to breathe it out to Him in prayer. I encourage you to sing or listen to songs of praise and echo the words of the songs to God in prayer.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)