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Psalms 42 - For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah.

1   As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2   My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
3   My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
4   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.
5   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.
6   My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
7   Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
8   By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
9   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.


Devotional comment from David Dunlop



Psalm 42 has been described as ‘a howl of despair’ - and there are times. There are times whenever we just want to scream. And that’s ok. But it’s important we scream in the right direction - and by that, I mean, in God’s direction. This prayer is offered (screamed) by someone who feels that God is a million miles away - it feels  like God has forgotten him (v 9), people are against him (or have it in for him) (v 10); and even though he longs for God - like really longs for God - he’s struggling to find Him. Ever been there? There now? (you feel dry and like you’re drowning spiritually?) The person who screamed this prayer is going through (or is in right in the midst of) a spiritually bleak experience (a dark night of the soul) - and it’s affecting them hard - to the point where they can’t even face food - except for the salt of their own tears - plus, their very bones ache (vs 3 & 10)!  But although this is how they feel - they’re still praying - they’re not voicing off about God (or others, or their circumstances) - they’re not ranting irreverently at God - instead they are crying out to God in prayer - raw, honest-to-God prayer.

And that’s vital - it’s vital we turn to God - and rather than hide or repress our despair at times - or  bottle up our feelings - or try pretend everything’s ok - it’s vital we go to our Father and express how we feel/where it’s at.

We need to be real - and God is big enough to deal with our brutal honesty and hear our individual  lament. The Psalmist has got lots of questions - he asks at least 7 (2 are repeated) - more questions than  answers (there are no recorded answers!).

But he’s not necessarily looking for answers - he’s looking for God - his soul craves God, he thirsts for God - for the living God - the intensity of desire is tangible.

Although he’s in a hard place (a dark place), he’s not walking away from God, looking in other directions or turning to alternative coping mechanisms - he knows there’s only one place to go, and so like a deer crashing through desert wasteland hunting for water to keep it alive, he thirsts for God.

And as he battles with this, he engages memory; ‘these things I remember as I pour out my soul’ (v 4) - as he cries out to God, he recalls better days - how he used to go with others to the house of God and sing and shout his heart out to God in praise

Living in the past can be dangerous, but there’s definite value in reflecting on it - remember the better/brighter days.

And he recognises the necessity of hope - because whenever you are in a difficult place, hope can seem impossible/illusive/out of reach - and so on both occasions whenever he asks the haunting questions; ‘why, my soul are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?’ - both times he follows them up by telling himself to ‘put your hope in God’ (vs 5 & 11).

In prayer, it’s good to talk to yourself as you talk to God! And even more important - he chooses to worship; ‘for I will yet praise Him’. Surely praising God is the last thing you feel like doing when the level of despair is this severe -  and yet that is exactly what he intends to do, because God is the Mighty One (v 4); his Saviour (v  5) and his Rock (v 9).  

If you feel dry, or if it feels like you’re going under, go ahead …. scream - let it out - but scream to  God; recall the better days; choose hope and never cease to praise. 








David currently serves as pastor at Windsor Baptist Church, and has done so for 11 years. He’s married to Glenys, and they have three daughters (Shannon, Caragh & Kristen), a son-in-law (Ben) and a dog (Lola)! He enjoys good coffee, supports Chelsea (and has done since he was 3!), likes to listen music (especially Toto??), attempts to run/gym regularly and recognises the importance of guarding your heart.