Thursday, May 26, 2016

Craving God’s Presence

Psalm 42:1-11

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.  My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?  My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?” (Psalm 42:1-3)

Maschil means to be circumspect or intelligent.  David describes himself as longing for the presence of God like a deer which has been fleeing from her enemies or lost in the desert longs for a drink of water, wondering when she will find another drink.  The thirst has been aggravated by Satan or other people asking why God doesn’t answer or take action, with the result that he feels like the only relief has come from his own tears. 

“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.  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.” (Psalm 42:4-5)

He had been to church and had heard the promises a of God’s love and presence and had been excited to hear them, singing and praising the Lord with the rest of the crowd.  His question is why he feels so alone and unloved in the present situation?  He knows God will keep his promises, but his emotions are running wild.  Why can’t they just accept God’s promise and give him some relief? 

“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.   Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.  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.” (Psalm 42:6-8)

Depressed by his feelings of separation from God, David deliberately chooses to remember what God has done for him in the past, in various situations.    Though it seems like he is about to drown under all his problems and what he hears sounds like there is worse to come, remembering what God has done in the past raises his hope that God will reach out to him to protect him in the day and sing a song to comfort him when he can’t see what is going on.  His prayer will be focused on God. 

“I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?  As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?” (Psalm 42:9-10)

Even when he remembers what God has done in the past, and has hope for the future he will still be asking why God allows him to feel deserted and alone mas a result of Satanic attacks.  The accusations and mockery of those around him still hurts like a sword in his bones.   

What David describes is a common sensation among people who serve God, but our emotions tell us  we are the only one who has ever experienced such difficulty and God has forgotten us.    I Corinthians 10:13 tells us, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”     

Other people have the same struggles we experience, and God has dealt with them before.  He will not allow us to be tested beyond what we can deal with, even though they exceed our strength, because he always provides a way for us to escape defeat and destruction.  We just need to let him show us how to get it because we can’t do it on our own.  The problem is that like a person having a panic attack, we become so focused on our emotions we cannot think logically, with the result we freeze up and are unable to respond effectively.  Satan often uses our emotions to prevent us from doing what is right. 

“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.” (Psalm 42:11)

David asks why his emotions have taken over, creating depression.  In order to break the paralysis of a panic attack one must distract a person form their emotions.  In an emergency situation, a loud yell, a cup of water in the face or a slap nay be needed to distract the person quickly.  To prevent people from giving way to their panic, one can focus on solutions and actions to deal with the problem, or on what to do after the problem is resolved.    By focusing on God and the hope for the future, rather than the immediate situation, David could eliminate the depression and enjoy his life even in the midst of his problems.  We don’t have to allow our emotions to take over.   It is like taking a bottle of water with us instead of just hoping we find some.

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