“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’” —Psalm 42:1–3 (NIV)
Although he was from the lineage of Levi and his family had been given a specific role in caring for the articles in the Tabernacle sanctuary, Korah became involved in a coup challenging Moses and Aaron’s God-given authority to lead the people (Numbers 16). As a result, Korah and the other rebels were swallowed by the earth (Numbers 16). However, Korah’s descendants survived and, under David’s kingship, became an important part of the “music ministry” in the Tabernacle. Eleven of the Psalms are attributed to the sons of Korah as expressions of humility, deep devotion to Yahweh, and acknowledging an awesome God.
The writer of Psalm 42 was discouraged because he was unable to worship God in the Temple. The Israelites viewed the Temple as the physical place where they could meet with God and worship Him. Therefore, this separation resulted in great sadness and depression. Yet, even though his desperation, the writer was resolved to remember God and praise Him as his Savior. Everyone experiences troubles and difficulties throughout their lives, and depression continues to be a major issue in modern culture. Certainly, many of these difficulties include complex circumstances and are not solved easily. At times, professional counseling is needed and should be sought out. Reminding ourselves of who God is, who we are in Him, and how He has blessed and cared for us can help tremendously during these times of struggle.
“Perhaps the thirst came from drought or from heated pursuit; either way, the deer longed for and needed water” (from Enduring Word commentary). The year 2020 was a difficult year. The year 2021, in many ways, has been equally difficult. It’s completely understandable when the controversy surrounding COVID-19 and vaccination, the worldwide conflicts reported on every day, and the tinder box of the current political climate result in a drought of happiness and contentment. Or when those things feel like a constant pursuit as we work to make sense of the ever-changing information that floods every avenue of communication in our lives. Maybe you identify with the psalmist’s description of the deer: panting, desperate, aching for your thirst to be quenched, and thirsty for an end to the struggle, harsh words, and chaos.
The writer of Psalm 42 vividly described a time (or times) of struggle, but don’t miss the resolve found in verses 5 and 11. “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” A friend of mine has often made the statement, “Sometimes we have to allow our mind to lead our heart to remember what is true.” Difficult times often result in us being downhearted, unmotivated, and with a “my heart’s just not in it” attitude. Hear the message of the psalmist; remind yourself in whom your hope lies and choose to praise the name of your Savior and your God! Allow Him to quench your thirst, provide rest, and sustain you during hard times. On this side of heaven, we are guaranteed to experience more difficult days; however, we (Christians) can stay hydrated and endure those times by reminding ourselves of our hope in God and by maintaining our relationship with Him.
Near the end of Psalm 42, we can see that the difficulty had not been removed or resolved. Yet the writer continued to declare that he would worship and praise his God and his Savior. When can we “go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:2). I have great news! We have the incredible blessing of experiencing the powerful words of God through Scripture and the gentle instruction of the Holy Spirit through prayer every day.
Brandon Lewis has served as student pastor in churches in Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi. He and Lacey have three children: Karen, Gabriel, and Ryan. Brandon is currently serving as the youth ministry strategist for the Louisiana Baptist Convention. In this role, he has the privilege of planning and hosting statewide events for teenagers (YEC, Clear Camps, etc.), coordinating training events for youth ministers and youth ministry leaders, and serving as a youth ministry consultant for churches across the state.