The Cast Down Soul

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?”

These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

— Psalm 42 (ESV)

While I was in high school I joined the wrestling team. During some of our practices we would go for so long that I was dying of thirst. Drill after drill, until I was so thirsty it was hard to swallow. The only thing I wanted was a sip of water. This is what comes to my mind when David says “so pants my soul for you”. King David in Psalm 42 recognizes his desperate life dependence and satisfaction from God.  It is so easy to forget how much of our lives depend on God. But more than that, David’s entire being thirsts and longs for God. While he longs to see his king, his enemy taunts him. He is in a battle with his own mind.

We might imagine that his mind is restless and keeping him up late at night in fear and doubt, “My tears have been my food day and night.” Or maybe it’s early in the morning, dark, raining, and even though it’s a brand new day, he is too tired to get up to fight. Possibly, David is in the middle of a hard day of work and cannot find the strength to continue. Whatever situation it is, we can see that he is clearly beaten, worn down, and tired.

“Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”  David is writing, and he knows that he is in the fight for his own sanity, heart, and life. He knows what he is supposed to do, but his mind and heart are split. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” His mind knows one thing, but his heart is saying another. He knows what he should be doing, his heart knows the depth of his sin, and the ugliness of his sin, but his mind has seen the depth and beauty of God’s grace. His heart is stuck in the idea that his fear, sin, pain, and life is wrecked and therefore lost, but once God touchs his soul, there is a part of him that rests and finds peace in God.

Whether it is a decision, a sin, or an event that drags our heart down, I encourage you to once again praise God, in doing so; you take your pain, sin, and doubts and kneel before the Lord waiting for His wisdom, and peace.

Aaron Speer

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