“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” Psalm 42:1-2
Some readers mistakenly think these verses precede a Psalm of rejoicing. They do not. Psalm 42 is a psalm of lament and deep struggle, a psalm where the writer has been weeping day and night (v.3), is pouring out his soul to God (v.4), and whose soul is bound up in depression and turmoil (v.5). But from this low place the psalmist knows that he must turn to the Lord. He longs for a fresh and clear word from the Lord. He longs for the near relational presence of God that fills the heart with joy and peace, as nothing else can.
Our day continues to be filled with the same struggles, but few understand that only a word from the Lord will satisfy the longing and sad emptiness of their heart. Owen Strachan writes, “So many wish to hear the voice of God; so few read the Bible, His declared revelation. If we want to hear the Lord’s voice, then we need to open the pages of Scripture and listen.”
People are searching for satisfaction and meaning. They are searching for joy and belonging. They have always been searching, but what they are searching for cannot be supplied by the things of this world. The world stumbles about in all directions, in spiritual blindness, looking for something from this world that only God can give. The turmoil of your soul will never be satisfied by accumulating the possessions of this world. The deep-seated depression of your soul will never be turned to gladness by the empty wisdom of humanity or work based religions. Running away from these things will only take you further into the darkness. Calling out to an unknown god, or an idol with ears that cannot hear, will not do. We need to hear from the living God (v.2)!
Often as we search, as we all do, we begin to realize that what is missing is relationship. People often come to our church feeling that emptiness, and hope that they can find community in the church that will fill that void. But there is an ordering of relationships. The chief, or primary, life-giving relationship is the personal relationship that we can experience with God the Father through Jesus Christ. If you have not believed in Jesus Christ, and sought forgiveness for your sins, then you have no relationship with God. Without relationship with God, all of your human relationships will be chaotic and self-destruct. Apart from a near and growing relationship with Jesus Christ, none of the other relationships of your life will provide the satisfaction you hope they will. Without the redeeming transformation that only Jesus can bring to your heart, YOU will be the problem with all your relationships.
However, when we listen to the word of the Lord, learn His ways, and follow Him, all of our other relationships begin to heal, grow, and strengthen. We first must focus, quiet our hearts, and make time to prayerfully read and consider the Bible. Scripture is a living word which the Holy Spirit will apply to our hearts in a personal way. When you feel like the psalmist, and know that your heart is empty and everything has gotten out of order, seek first a word from the Lord. Open your Bible and prayerfully ask God for what you need. Walk by faith. Believe what you read there and act on it.
The psalmist is very personal in his plea, because God is personal in His relationship with you. The Bible teaches the “priesthood of believers,” which means that through the work of Jesus Christ to forgive your sins, you can go directly to God in relationship. You do not need to go through the middle-man of a priest. This is cause for rejoicing! Make time to read and consider the Bible today. By those precious words your heart will be lifted up.
The word of the Lord will stand forever,