April 15, 2015.
Daily Reading: Psalm 42-44.
Background: Psalm 39-41.
Concepts and Connections.
A soul that thirsts for God: The psalmist here brings the imagery of a wild deer panting for water to describe his soul’s desire for the Lord, the presence of the Almighty. The psalmist is thirst for the living God, a concept that Jesus echoes in Matthew 5:6 in the beatitudes, and cries out to the Lord whom his soul craves. However, it seems that he feels a sense of abandonment, if only in his perception, as his walk on earth is rough and the presence of the Lord is hard to be felt. But the psalmist doesn’t let this feeling in his soul discourage him, for he has set his mind to hope in the Lord, placing his trust in the Almighty. He knows that he is not abandoned, though his enemies press in hard and it is hard to see the light, and for this he will praise the Lord. Let us ever thirst for the Lord! May we have an appetite that craves His presence instead of filling the void with material things that can never satisfy. Let us find the stream of living water, that we may drink and our thirst be ever quenched (see John 7:37-39).
Guided by the Lord: Much like the previous psalm, this is another plea to the Lord in a time of distress when it seems like He has abandoned the psalmist. The writer cries out for help and vindication, and asks for the Lord’s truth and light that they might guide his paths. The psalmist wants to walk in the truth of the Lord and trust that He knows where to send him better than he would know himself. Praise and joy come from this trust in the Lord, and the psalmist is not shy about expressing this praise to the Lord before the altar. Though there is an inner struggle going on as his heart feels abandoned, he knows that the Lord is there though He seem absent, and in this knowledge he will rejoice and hope in the salvation of his God. Let us all learn to have this hope, even when things seem bad, that the Lord will guide and deliver us in the day of trouble.
“Come back, Lord!”: The overall theme of this psalm sets up a question before the Lord: “Why do You hide your face from us?” Notice how much of the heart is poured out in this psalm, yet it is structured in a very cohesive and reverent way. The psalm starts out by recalling all the wondrous works that they have been told of that the Lord had done for His people, how He had stretched out His hand against the nations who were enemies of Israel, and drove them out before them to give them the promised land. It was not by their own might that they won the land, but rather through the power of the Lord. It was in the Lord that the psalmist trusted, not in his bow or sword, and he knew that only through the Lord could he accomplish anything. Then the tone of the psalm switches a bit, as the psalmist gets to the main point of what he is trying to say. Though they have trusted in the Lord and followed in His paths, the psalmist feels rejected and abandoned by God. He feels that the Lord has made them a laughing stock among the nations, and has not lifted His hand to deliver them out of their enemies. He pleads his case before the Lord, saying that if there had been wrongdoing in their ways, the Lord would have known it. Though this statement, we can see that the psalmists really believes that the people’s ways had been righteous, but the Lord had forgotten them anyway. He claims that for the Lord’s sake they are killed all the day long. Paul quotes this passage in Romans 8:36 when he is talking about the persecution that they were undergoing, comparing it to the glory that would come. The end of the psalm asks God to awake and once again turn His face toward His people, that they might be saved. Redemption based on His steadfast love is desired, and the presence of the Lord once again is sought after. May we ever seek His face.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Job 29-30.
Do not be discouraged.