DEEP PRAYERS – PSALM 42
Lesson 9 of Psalms: Lessons in Prayer
by Eric Elder
You can listen to today’s psalm here:
Psalm 42, read by Lana Elder, with music by George Frederic Handel, played by Bo Elder
Psalm 42 begins with the words of one of my favorite worship songs when I first became a Christian:
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God” (Psalm 42:1).
The reason this was one of my favorite worship songs was because it spoke to the deep places of my heart. As a new Christian, I just wanted more and more of God. Thirty years later, I still do.
When you read Psalm 42, you can feel David’s deep hunger, his deep thirst for 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 men say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?'” (vv. 2-3).
And as you continue reading, you find out that his deep thirst is borne out of the deep pain in his soul:
“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. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon–from Mount Mizar” (vv. 4-6).
The beauty of these verses is that it not only describes the problem David is facing, but also the solution he found to his problem: putting his hope in God; praising Him still; and remembering Him from the place where he had taken refuge.
It’s the same solution to the problems we’re facing. I heard from a friend yesterday morning whose week was filled with more than a few problems: a flooded basement, electrical issues, a tax problem, getting sick–all of which led to feelings of stress and loneliness. But like David, my friend found the solution in the simple act of turning to God, of actively hoping in Him and trusting in Him. He took away the feelings of despair. While the circumstances hadn’t entirely changed, my friend’s heart and mind changed–by trusting in Him.
Last year, I was able to visit the area in Israel where David most likely wrote this psalm, for he says in verse 5: “I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon.” At one point, we stopped along the trail where we were walking, as we had come to a pool of water where it was easy to picture deer coming and quenching their thirst.
We sang, “As the deer panteth for the waters, so my soul longeth after Thee…” And we called out to God from the depths of our hearts to the depths of His. It was a sweet time of intimacy with our God who has the solutions to all of our problems.
At another point, we saw the raging headwaters of the Jordan River, one of the three tributaries which give birth to that significant river that travels the length of the country. As the water crashed in upon itself, it was easy to see how the waves turned into a metaphor for David’s song, describing both the tumult that was going on in his own heart, as well as the peace he found through prayer:
“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” (Psalm 42:7-8).
I don’t know what problems you might be facing this week. I don’t know what troubles my be besetting your soul. I don’t know what waves and breakers are sweeping over you. But I do know what can help you through them. I do know Who can satisfy that deep thirst in your soul. I do know what can change your heart and your attitude so you can keep pressing forward, as it changed the heart and attitude of David 3,000 years ago, and of my friend yesterday morning. David summarized the problem–and the solution–in the final words of his psalm:
“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” (Psalm 42:11).
David spoke to his soul. He asked why it was so downcast and so disturbed. Then he spoke to it again, offering the solution that God is offering you today: Put your hope in God. Sing your praise to Him, your Savior and your God. Bring your deep prayers to the One who knows best how to answer them.
Will you pray with me?
Father, thank You for letting us pour out our hearts to you, from the depths of our hearts to the depths of Yours. Thank You for providing the solutions to our problems, the answers to our prayers. Thank You for giving us Your peace even when the breakers and waves are sweeping over us. We pray that You would bring us that peace again today, right now, throughout the day, and in the days that follow. Help us to keeping putting our hope and trust and faith in You, for You are worthy of it all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
P.S. I’ve received $275 from several of you this week to go towards my $700 travel expense to speak at a men’s conference in Trinidad at the end of June. Thank you! I’ll be speaking on the theme of “Attacks on the Souls of Men,” and am hoping to record the sessions and post them online for others to see after the conference. If you’d like to help offset the cost of this trip, or cover the remainder in full ($425), that would greatly help with this unplanned expense. Just use this link. Thanks!
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Here’s the link again to listen to today’s Psalm:
Psalm 42, read by Lana Elder, with George Frederic Handel’s “Rigaudon,” played by Bo Elder
And if you’d like to read through the entire book of Psalms this year with us, here’s the reading plan we’re using. It’s not too late to catch up!
2017 Reading Plan for Psalms