“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“.
There are precious pearls within this psalm. I pray you can pause long enough to mine them out for yourself. Hint; the best miners are the best question askers. They have more treasures of all types than anyone. Questions are what come from the hearts of thirsting and panting souls. Listen to this soul’s questions: When shall I come and appear before God? Why are you in despair, O my soul and why are you disturbed within me? Why hast Thou forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of my circumstances?
There are different types of questions. Some questions are really just commentary in disguise – concealing the darkness of our doubts, bitterness and unbelief. Other questions are rhetorical – used for posturing and positioning. No answer is expected here because the proud soul already has all the answers it requires. There are also questions that are asked in order to collect the data we need to support our existing hypotheses. These types of questions will not unearth anything of lasting value. Then, there are the questions of those with no hardened pre-formed notions. These questions come from searching hearts. These are usually the hard questions we ask ourselves and God. These are the questions that reveal the hunger and thirst that equip the humble to encounter their God.
I was thinking yesterday that we are both “driven” and we are “drawn”. From behind we are driven by pain and fears that we dare not stop and face. We are totally persuaded that pausing to look those things in the face would be our undoing. We’ve been there and done that. We felt those deep and unwelcome questions gaining on us – those questions that our painful experiences have raised which, we sense, have no answers. This is not a problem though because we can turn up the volume and speed of life so that those questions are drowned out and left behind back there in the periphery of our consciousness. I believe our triune enemy (the world, the flesh and the devil) conspires to see that we remain “driven”.
The writer of this psalm, on the other hand, is on the track of one who is being “drawn”. They have slowed down and from the recesses of their consciousness there are painful questions surfacing which they are taking ownership of by giving voice to them; by writing them down. (The power of journaling rest in becoming a psalmist in our own right – becoming completely transparent before God.) I think this is what is going on when “deep is calling (drawing) unto deep” (vs 7). His Spirit is touching ours. His light is touching our darkness. His truth is touching our lies. This is where, by slowing down, eternity overtakes time and our hearts realize their connection to God. His light overtakes our darkness. This is a place where the world, the flesh and the devil are overthrown and captives are truly set free.
Beware though, when you start applying the breaks or turning down the volume of your life, the truly important (yet painful) things we have buried tend to surface. As this psalmist slows down and records his thoughts, listen to his troubled consciousness (the very thing we work overtime to avoid). More importantly though, listen to the psalmist intenionally embracing truths beyond his feelings and understanding.
My soul thirsts. I cry day and night. When will you bring relief God?
I REMEMBER – I HAVE PRAISED YOU BEFORE. I SHALL PRAISE YOU AGAIN!
Why are you in despair oh my soul?
I REMEMBER – I HAVE HAD EXPERIENCE WITH YOU. I SHALL HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH YOU AGAIN!
Thy breakers and Thy waves have rolled over me.
LORD, YOU WILL COMMAND YOUR LOVINGKINDNESS AND YOUR SONG WILL BE WITH ME IN THE NIGHT!
Why hast Thou forgotten me?
I WILL HOPE IN GOD. I SHALL YET PRAISE HIM. MY COUNTENANCE SHALL BE LIFTED!
This is going to be incomprehensible to some who are just natural songbirds sitting on that perch singing beautifully unhindered by introspection such as this. By all means sing away. You were a born warbler. Your precious song is a gift to us all. Suffering through anguished thoughts was not your lot. On the other hand if your song is really more like “whistling in the dark” try slowing down and catching up with the Lord.
This psalm is priceless. Here are a few of its gems. It demonstrates a man’s complete emotional honesty before God. It highlights the value of questions. It demonstrates that we do not need a priest, a vicar, or any intermediary between us and God. It demonstrates that a troubled heart can be a place of new beginnings. It demonstrates the power of deliberately recalling truth and declaring it to ourselves to combat questions that can become spiritually debilitating. It reveals that our wound, our failure or our restlessness may be transformed into thirst for God, an essential experience if we are to be drawn by God.
We must ask ourselves, “Are we being driven or are we being drawn?
Father, we are children of light. Teach us to live in your light even if when it gets
uncomfortable. Lead us into that place where we truly truly become the free souls you intended us to be – that place where Your sacrifice and suffering have not been squandered upon us. Help us to do our part in overthrowing the kingdom of darkness within us – those places where the world, the flesh and the devil have reigned too long, robbing from us the abundant life that You secured and is ours for the taking. May you succeed Lord in making us that city that is set upon a hill; that when an unbelieving world asks, “Just where is your God?”, You will be seen in the joy of our countenance, the vigor and purpose of our step. Your Life will be expressed through us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.