Today [Psalm Forty-Two] Bolstering Yourself When No One Else Will. In this psalm we find David on the run and struggling to survive. In the midst of a very difficult situation David keeps his focus on God’s presence. He longs for the presence of God. He makes a herculean effort not to be consumed with self-absorption and his own personal problems. He cries out to God. He declares his faith. He sings songs in the night. In David we find a powerful example to follow when we are under fire from the enemy.
1 [[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. 2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where [is] thy God? 4 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. 5 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. 6 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. 7 Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. 8 [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. 9 I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 10 [As] with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where [is] thy God? 11 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.
This psalm is generally believed to have been written when David was in exile during Absalom’s rebellion. It is dedicated and/or directed to the sons of Korah who were singers and minstrels in David’s day. It is interesting that the sons of Korah are connected with this psalm because it is a psalm dealing with rebellion and betrayal. Korah was the patriarch in Numbers 16 who led a rebellion wherein 14,000 died by plague and Korah himself was swallowed up when the earth opened underneath him in judgment. Though most of Korah’s family died with him apparently there were descendants that in David’s day were involved in temple worship.
David begins with a poetic picture of a deer panting for water. So David’s soul pants for God. The word soul here refers to David’s “living substance”. How does a deer pant for water? Several sources point out that a deer pants for water when it flees a predator. David is under pressure from his enemies and his former friends. In the midst of the struggle his preoccupation is not with those around him but with his desire to be in God’s presence. It has been said “you are where your attention takes you…” Even in the midst of trial – keep your mind not on the problem but upon the Lord and His presence.
In verses three David is very vulnerable – reduced to tears. Even as he laments in great frustration his friends rather than comfort him they taunt and torment him. David was a man who maintained a water-walking testimony. Now that he is in trouble those he previously tried to encourage are not pointing the finger at him in scorn and mockery.
Don’t ever be hesitant to live an open testimony. In my 30’s I had several mentors who walked in great power with God. Yet they had a contaminated idea that you shouldn’t make your boast in God or you would be unnecessarily buffeted by the Devil. That is wrong thinking. Yes, David is now being attacked because of his testimony – but that doesn’t mean he should have kept quiet. Your testimony – and giving your testimony is an important part of spiritual warfare. John the Revelator said this:
Rev. 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
In verse 5 David returns to the familiar personal strategy we first saw at Ziklag in 1 Sam. 30. He is under assault, desperate for God’s presence and begins to encourage himself in the Lord. “Why are you cast down oh my soul…” When we are down and struggling we usually expend what energy we have looking for someone else to encourage us. That can lead to idolatry. Idolatry encourages outward dependence rather than inward reliance on who God is in our lives. Learn to encourage yourself in the Lord. Work out your own salvation. Do for yourself what you have customarily looked to others for.
In verse 5 David remonstrates with his own soul. In verse 6 he takes his soul before God and gives an account of his own condition before the throne of God. This is what it looks like to live life on your own recognizance before God. Give a report of yourself before God – even when you are down, angry, frustrated or frightened. Let your prayer for yourself be the first prayer that God hears when you are under pressure.
In verse 6 David goes on to put himself in remembrance of when the children of Israel crossed the Jordan and came into the promised land. When you are in the midst of struggle maintain remembrance of the powerful experiences and deliverances from God in your past. David wasn’t alive in Joshua’s day so David not only looked to what God had done for him personally but he remembered the God stories of previous generations.
There is a lot of talk about forgetting what some call “old time religion”. The revivals of the past are held to be passé by many but there is great value in looking back at previous generations. Revivals such as the Cane Ridge revival, or the 50’s Healing Movement, or the Charismatic Renewal – these were all very special times that once recalled will encourage and strengthen you for the day you are making your way through.
In verse 7 we see the visitation of God on David in the midst of trouble. He speaks of the “deeps” of God calling to the “deeps” of his own human spirit. He describes the experience as the billows of God flowing over him. This is one of the most powerful metaphors of personal experience with God found in the scripture. Yet it doesn’t come at a convenient time. David is in the midst of conflict. Close friends are moving to betray him. He is on the run and fighting for his life. Then God shows up to rivet David’s attention away from all of these things and bring him into a personal experience of spiritual depth that would be hard to exaggerate.
In verse 8 David declares that God will command His lovingkindness upon him in the daytime. He expects to hear the song of the Lord in the night. How many times do you hear angel choirs in your sleep? I hear them quite frequently and particularly during times of duress. In all of this challenge we see David setting his expectation on the mercy of God and the lovingkindness of God. He nurses himself emotionally with the songs of the Lord. He continually remonstrates with his soul with admonitions of encouragement and comfort.
When you are going through your next down time follow David’s example. Don’t wait on someone else to come lift you up or carry you along. Take responsibility for yourself. Declare your faith as David did. Take hold of yourself in your mind and talk to yourself. Say to yourself what you would wish someone else would say to you if they were available. When despondency comes sing a song of the Lord. Doing these things you will find yourself coming through the trial on an accelerated scale and seeing victory in an altogether unanticipated way.
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