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Friday, March 11, 2016

PSALM 42

"As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for Thee, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God."
(verses 1-2)
 
 

 
This psalm is a very beautiful and familiar one sung in the Jewish captivity in Babylon as well as it sung by us in a chorus today.  It is a pretty picture of a thirsty deer getting a little drink from the brook.  However upon closer inspection, the commentator has a more desperate imagery.  I have seen a deer with a wild look in its eye swim into the middle of a lake as having been chased making us wonder whether it could make it back to safety.  "As the hart panteth after the water brooks"  "The hart is not only fond of feeding near some water for the benefit of drinking; 'but, when he is hard hunted and nearly spent, he will take into some river or brook, in which...he will keep as long as his breath will suffer him.  Understand that when a hart is spent and sore run, his last refuge is to the water; and he will commonly descend down the streame and swimme in the very middest thereof; for he will take as good heede as he can to touch no boughes or twygges that grow upon the sides of the river, for feare least the hounds should there take scent of him.  And sometimes the hart will lye under the water, all but his very nose; and I have seene divers ye so until the hounds have been upon them, before they would rise: for they are constrayned to take the water as their last refuge.'" (Tuberville's Art of Venerie, London 1611)."

 
Ye old Psalter wrote..."Als the Hert yernes till the welles of waters; so my saule yernes til the God."
"gretely yernes to come til the welles of waters for to drynk and wax yong ogayne: so destroyed in me vices and unclennes, my saule desyres with brinnand yernyng, to come til the God."
 
 

 
Desperate thirst. "So my soul pants for Thee, O God.  My soul thirst for God, for the living God."
This thirst means to drink or die, panting, longing for the living water so that we may thirst no more.  Isn't this world a "dry and weary land?"  Do we feel hounded at times in a secular world where we are pilgrims and a stranger, knowing that this world is not our home, where we will never fit in. 


 
"Deep calls to deep at the sound of Thy waterfalls; All Thy breakers and Thy waves have rolled over me."  This is thought of as a rather dismal sound, a description of grief, of waves of sorrow, one after the other.  Rather, I think that it also represents the very unquenchable depths of God's ability to give us drink, the deeper we go, the more He has for us.  It speaks of roaring waterfalls which are but water-full.  It also describes the ocean waves rolling.  Do we dare go out deep?  When we are over our heads, He can lift us up. There is nothing so healing as to listen to the sound of a waterfall or the waves crashing at the ocean. 



 
My parents built a beautiful home on a huge slab of rock beside a sixty foot waterfall.  On the other side, their balcony hung over the river.   My father liked to feed the trout from his private vantage point.  The roar of the waterfall was always the background music outside.  Its beauty was breathtaking.  The force of it was awe inspiring with the spray made damp upon our faces.  The deep pool at the bottom was not safe for swimming because it could swirl you under the heavy cascade and bury you in the deeps.  But what better place to be than to be drowned in the love of God, to be immersed in the endless flowing cascade or waves of his living water. 

 
We have been warned not to play with fire because God is not really a safe one to mess around with: "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:31) But "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God." We can fall into His terrifying hands for those who trust in Him, the living One. 

 
Isn't this better than the waterworks of "My tears have been my food day and night, While they say to me all day long, 'Where is your God?'  These things I remember, and I pour out my soul within me."...Why are you in despair, O my soul?  And why have you become disturbed within me?" verses 3, 5)  "My longing has been so intense after spiritual blessings that I have forgotten to take necessary food; and my sorrow has been so great, that I have had no appetite for any."  Tears are a little drip, drip, drop instead of the ever flowing living water that is the only thing that can quench the thirst of our souls.


 
The answer is, "Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him  for the help of His presence...The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life." (verse 5, 8)

 
So dear heart, or deer hart, trust in God to quench your thirst.  Even if He leads you out to the deep, the deeper, the better.  Go deep with God.



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