“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.”
(Psalm 42:1-5a ESV)
One thing that is true about how God created us is that He created us for relationship. Have you ever been in a relationship with a really close friend, perhaps a spouse, and for whatever reason had to be separated for a period of time, and just really longed to be together once again? Once back together, you’re able to pick back up as if you were never apart, but perhaps you do appreciate just a little more those opportunities when you are able to be close.
Well, the way God created us, in being created for relationship, was that in particular we would have a relationship with Him. Sin has damaged that relationship, and separated us from God, but in God’s incredible love for us, He has even made provision for that damage to be healed through the cross.
The Psalmist here writes of a time when he was unable to go up to the central place of worship in Jerusalem with the “throng” of people there. The author is not indicated, but if it is David, and that’s likely from the style this is written in, this could have been written either when on the run from Saul, or his own son Absalom in 2 Sam. 15. In either case, David would have been separated from the place he loved, and from worshipping the God he loved at the appointed place there in Jerusalem. When we face opposition of various kinds, it can sometimes feel like our God is far off. Like David, we should be reminded that our hope is in God, the God who made us in relationship with Him; who will never leave us nor forsake us.
But whether or not we’re facing opposition, how much does our heart really thirst for God? All too often many of us in the church today are satisfied with a much more casual, complacent relationship with God where we call on Him when we need Him, but otherwise, we’ll get along just fine, thank you. While on a recent vacation, I once again picked up A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God. In the opening chapter he reminds the reader that God offers so much more than that to us. “To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love, scorned by the too-easily satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart. He laments that the church at the time of this writing, (1948), have reduced a relationship with God to mere factual knowledge, cold doctrine and emotionless worship. His prayer at the end of the chapter left me wanting more, I hope it will do the same for you.
“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Bruce Jacobsen