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Read Psalm 42

For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah.

As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
    under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
    among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
    therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
    the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
    as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

Go Deeper

As we begin reading Psalm 42 today, some of us might have a soundtrack slowly rising in the background of our minds. The first verse served as the basis for a popular worship song written in 1984, “As the Deer.” It offers a calming melody and words of devotion to God. Reading this full psalm paints a different picture.

This is a gritty, groaning, gutsy chapter depicting the back-and-forth struggle between the writer’s earthly feelings and heavenly faith. We can almost hear the two different voices pleading and praising in the author’s mind and heart: one relaying suffering and the other reminding the solution. For example: 

Suffering: My tears have been my food, day and night, while people say to me all day long,“Where is your God?” (v. 3)

Solution: These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. (v. 4)

Suffering: Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? (v. 5)

Solution: Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (v. 5)

We often avoid sharing our suffering with God. We have been misled to believe God doesn’t want us to speak of it or to question it. When suffering comes, and it absolutely will, many well-intentioned friends skip over validating our pain and refrain from sitting in sympathy as we suffer. Instead, we are given “coffee cup” scripture and paraphrased principles. We are encouraged to “focus on the good” with the unspoken direction to silence the difficult. There is some hidden undercurrent that acknowledging the suffering seems unholy.

But here’s the thing: God hears both. We do not need to hide our pain or protect Him from our questions. We do not need to feel shameful or shaky in our faith because of our suffering. Rather, God’s power is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), our faith is strengthened in our suffering (1 Peter 5:9), and we are refined through the fire of challenges (Isaiah 48:10).

So we can share our suffering with God and proclaim Him as the solution – all with the same faith and in the same breath.  We can bring our gritty, groaning, gutsy pleas to His feet and praise His faithfulness. We can claim the refrain of Psalm 42 for ourselves:

Put your hope in God,

for I will yet praise him,

my Savior and my God.

Questions

  1. Have you ever tried to hide your suffering from God or felt ashamed for questioning Him? Why?
  2. Recall a time of suffering. Was your faith strengthened through the experience? If so, praise God for His faithfulness. If not, admit to God the challenge and ask for His guidance.
  3. How can you help a friend who is suffering? In what ways can you acknowledge their suffering and praise God for His goodness during that time?

By the Way

This Psalm opens the second book of Psalms and is written for the Sons of Korah. The Sons of Korah were descendants of a branch of Levites. While you can learn of Korah’s rebellion against Moses in Numbers 16, his descendants became leaders in choral and orchestral music during David’s time.

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4 thoughts on “Psalm 42”

  1. I’m reminded of a quote by Corrie ten Boom as I read this Psalm, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” The ten Boom family were Dutch christians who helped manyJews escape the Nazi Holocaust in WWII. Her book, The Hiding Place, tells of the extreme persecution her family endured and is such a worthy read. Psalm 119:114 says “You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your Word.” No matter the hardship we have the ultimate hope of our Savior who gives his faithful love by day and a song in the night. (8). We learn from David that praise is the catalyst to usher in his peace and dissolve our fears. It may not immediately change our circumstance but it does change us. Let’s think of suffering as a platform to showcase our Savior, the one who endured the cross so that we might never suffer alone.

  2. Beverly Williams

    This week has been a whirlwind of memories. Monday marked the day 3 years ago we found out my 4 yr old granddaughter had DIPG, an inoperable brain tumor. Tomorrow marks 1 year ago she took Jesus hand as He lead her home. This chapter I can hear David screaming where are you? And God gently takes him by his hand abd reminds him and says I’m here, I never left you…I’ll never leave you.”

    The song “yet I will praise you” by Nicole Sponberg speaks such Peace over me, as I’m reminded no matter when I feel God isn’t there, or He’s not listening, He promised me He is always there, He never leaves.

    Layla never stopped believing. Her favorite song was ‘I’ll praise you in the storm”. She was young but so beyond her years. I thank God so much for blessings me with her beautiful life and example of never not praising God, no matter what.

  3. Verse 4 is the key for me here! When my soul is downcast & in turmoil, I need to remember God’s goodness & faithfulness & all the ways I’ve experienced & seen Him before. I pray God gives us all good memories to remember His provision for us in the past, so we have deeper trust in Him for the future.

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