February 23: Psalm 42/43

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February 23: Psalm 42/43

Hope for the soul cast down

Common meter 86.86             Morning Song, p. 30
Kingsfold (I heard the voice of Jesus say), p. 60

If you don’t know these tunes, you can listen to them online at asburyreader.com.

As in its thirst a fainting deer to water brooks doth flee,

So pants my longing soul, O God, that I may come to Thee.

My soul for God, the living God, is thirsting, shall I near

Before the face of God approach and in His sight appear?

My tears have unto me been food both in the night and day,

While unto me continu’lly, “Where is your God?” they say.

Poured out within me is my soul when this I think upon:

How often with the eager throng I rev’rently had gone,

How to the house of God I went with voice of joy and praise,

Yea, with the multitude that kept the solemn holy days.

O why, my soul, art though cast down? Why so discouraged be?

Hope now in God! I’ll praise Him still! My help, my God is He!

O God, my soul’s cast down in me; I Thee remember will

From Jordan land, from Hermon’s height, and ev’n from Mizar hill.

With thunder of Thy waterfalls deep unto deep doth call;

Thy billows all roll over me; on me Thy breakers fall.

The Lord, His lovingkindness will command all through the day;

By night His song shall be with me; to God, my Life, I’ll pray.

To God who is my rock I’ll say, “O why forget me so?

Beneath oppression of my foes why do I mourning go?”

As with sharp pain within my bones my foes bring agony,

They say, “Where is thy God?” and taunt continu’lly.

O why, my soul, art thou cast down? Why so discouraged be?

Hope now in God! I’ll praise Him still! My Help, my God is He!

O vindicate my case, O God against a godless clan;

Deliver me from fraudulent, unjust, and wicked man.

O God in Whom I refuge take, why have You cast me off?

Why must I grieving walk about while foes oppress and scoff?

O send forth both your light and truth, O led them lead me well

And bring me to Your holy hill, the place You choose to dwell.

Then I will to God’s altar go, to God, my boundless joy,

To render praise to God, my God, the harp I will employ.

O why, my soul, are you cast down? Why so discouraged be?

Hope now in God! I’ll praise Him still! My help, my God is He!

Showing a unified theme and sharing a common refrain, Psalms 42 and 43 seem originally to have been a single psalm. If such was the case, however, the two parts became divided very early, because they stand as two different psalms in both the Hebrew and the Greek Bibles. God’s roaring waterfalls, His overwhelming waves and billows, describe the infinite, frightful abyss of the longing that He evokes from the human spirit, the very depths of God calling out to the depths of the soul. The forlorn poet prays: “Why are you cast down, my soul? And why so disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, my help and my God.” What this psalm describes is a fairly common experience of the life in Christ. The message is one of encouragement, an inner exhortation to trust the memory of earlier grace and to hope for its abundant return. Even if, like Jonah (Jonah 2:3-7), our loss of the earlier height is of our own fault and infidelity, God is yet merciful and can restore to us the joy of His salvation: “The Lord will command His mercy by day, and His song by night…Hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my help and my God.” (Reardon, p. 81-82)

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