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Psalm 42:1-2

Psalm 42:1-2
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“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? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, ‘Where is your God?'” (Psalm 42:1-3 ESV)

The “dark night of the soul” is a valley through which most Christians have walked or will soon walk. It is that bleak experience where the presence of God seems withdrawn, our soul’s joy in the Lord is diminished, the intimacy and weighty reality of the eternal unseen has evaporated from our affections and we are left, like David, saying, “when shall I come and appear before God?”

I love these verses in Psalm 42 because it shows how the Lord sovereignly ordains even these dark nights for His glory and our joy. Consider it: we realize how precious water is to us (and others realize how precious it is to us) when we are parched and desperate, ready to do anything for a drink. In a similar way, our soul discovers how precious God is to us—and we proclaim how precious He is to us—when He seems distant and we are desperate for manifest communion with Him. By withdrawing His sensible presence for a time, the Lord often stirs up our affections for Him and reveals the sincerity of our faith.
However, with that being said….these are still dark times…how are we to cope in the midst of them? David gives us an example in verse 5 when he preaches the truth to himself, calling his soul to hope in God. The proclamation of biblical truth to ourselves is an invaluable strategy against depression and anxiety…just as the word of God gave order to the chaos of creation in Genesis 1, so too His words give order to the chaos of our hearts. And this is especially true for us living post-Calvary. In Christ we have visible, historic, and infinitely weighty proof that God is for us. He has given us His Son and He will—in His time—bring us through the night of depression and into the glad dawning of His presence (Romans 8:31-32).

I intentionally gave this picture a dream-like atmosphere and set the entire scene at sunrise in an attempt to capture the moment that the soul’s “dark night” passes away. In verses 1 and 2, David makes it clear that his thirst is for God Himself, he longs to know and rejoice in God. Because of this, I pictured the stream of soul-satisfying water as flowing from Christ’s wound. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus not only does all that is necessary so that we can know and enjoy God, He also communicates to us the Character of the God whom our souls long to know and enjoy. The water for which our soul’s thirst is to know and enjoy God in Christ, and this water is given to us through the cross work of Christ and is mediated to us in/by the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39, John 16:14).

Lastly, notice that the water is also depicted as flowing from a broken rock. This is an allusion to the way that YHWH gave water to His people in the wilderness by striking a rock so that water flowed from it (Exodus 17:6). Later Biblical revelation teaches us to link the stricken rock whose wound gave water in the wilderness with the stricken Christ whose wounds give life to the world (1 Corinthians 10:4).