Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Thirsting for God

Psalm 42 (closely associated with Psalm 43)

I. Where Is God?

A. The psalmist longed for God like a thirsty deer. “To the chief Musician, Maschil, for the sons of Korah. As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” (Psalm 42:1)

1. Two faithful branches of the Korah [great-grandson of Levi] family were saved from the judgment in the days of Moses [Numbers 16] and assigned to be doorkeepers for God’s house by David. “And if his father have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his kinsman that is next to him of his family, and he shall possess it: and it shall be unto the children of Israel a statute of judgment, as the LORD commanded Moses.” (Numbers 27:11)

2. The same family helped restore the Temple worship after the captivity. “Moreover the porters, Akkub, Talmon, and their brethren that kept the gates, were an hundred seventy and two.” (Nehemiah 11:19)

B. The psalmist wanted to be with God; remember David’s exclusion from Jerusalem in the days of Absalom. “My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:2) “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.” (Psalm 137:5)

1. The lowest rank in God’s house is greater than the highest rank in the world’s house. “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” (Psalm 84:10)

2. Separation in the holy seasons [cf. communion] is particularly painful for the gatekeepers who cannot approach the gate. “Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord GOD.” (Exodus 23:17)

C. Enemies taunted the psalmist. “My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?” (Psalm 42:3)

1. Believers suffer when enemies say God is unable to help. “Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.” (Psalm 3:2)

2. The same pain surfaces when unbelievers charge that God is not interested in His people; this taunt was thrown at Jesus. “He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.” (Psalm 22:8)

D. When the believer remembered good times with God, the present lonely situation compounded the trials. “When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.” (Psalm 42:4)

E. Even in trials, the faithful believer draws consolation that eventually God will help and summon the believer; taunting this faith is a great burden for a believer. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” (Psalm 42:5)

II. In Seasons of Sorrow Believers Return to God

A. In exile, the believer remembers time with God. “O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.” (Psalm 42:6)

1. Believers can understand this pain because it has also been displayed in the suffering of Jesus. “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.” (John 12:27)

2. The anguish of the isolated soul makes the entire person miserable. “For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh.” (Psalm 38:7)

B. The very overwhelming flood of life draws a believer back to God. “Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.” (Psalm 42:7)

C. Even in the dark night of the soul, heaven’s songs draw a believer to God. “Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.” (Psalm 42:8)

D. When enemies torment, a believer takes the case to heaven rather than reply to the taunts of unbelievers. “I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?” (Psalm 42:9-10)

E. The believer always knows that in the end, God will set all things right. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” (Psalm 42:11)

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