How I love Psalm 42.
It has brought me such strength when all His waves and billows are sweeping me over me.
We have done this psalm before, and will do again, for it is ever needed and ever new. Recently, on this blog, we completed the first book in the Psalter, and now we will begin, until the time of Thanksgiving and Advent, the second book in the Psalter. It begins with “nine songs of the sons of Korah,” so we should expect some great music inspired by these psalms. My favorite psalm (at least right now!) is Psalm 42, and its heart cry and dialogue with the soul continues on into Psalm 43. This is a famous psalm — many great pieces of music, even a whole classical hour by Mendelssohn, have been inspired by it. Why does it so penetrate the hearts of believers?
Next door to me is a dock that has stood strong in the storms of Lake Michigan for 60 years. It is a dock from which I, my children, and my grandchildren have caught fish, teeming without number. From it we have watched the waves and boats empowered by His invisible wind, so like the Spirit in our lives.
But last month we had a storm like none I had seen. In the beginning, it was exciting, and I went out and filmed it, and put it on my author facebook page. You can click below to go to see that five second video sweeping over my neighbor’s dock — but that was just the beginning of the storm. Soon it moved from exciting to frightening.
Eleven inches of rain filled basements everywhere. The fierce storm gave a fatal blow to the foundations of this seemingly impenetrable dock, actually cracking the cement. Now, every day, more of the dock disappears into the bay. What seemed impenetrable is passing away.
When the very foundation of our life is cracked, and we feel like we cannot go on, what do we do?
We speak the truth to our souls, for if our foundation is cracked, it is a faulty foundation. For we have a foundation that can never crack, we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken. We must talk to our souls, the way the psalmist did, when all of the waves were sweeping over him.
This is my beloved husband months before he died, near the dock I just described. Steve was a contemplative man, and he often had to take his soul in hand during his illness. He told our youngest, “Annie — I’m so sad I have to leave you — but I’m so glad I got to be your daddy. And I will always be your daddy.” Even in those words I know that Steve was talking to his soul. He trusted God’s promises that we would be reunited one day. And we will! One day we will hug, we will talk, we will laugh — and “everything sad,” as Tolkein put it, “will be untrue.” Joy will come in the morning.
My son J. R., who studies the Jewish holy days, told me that the day of Steve’s death, October 16th, was the 8th day of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, and represented eternity — for an 8 on it’s side is the symbol of eternity. Steve and I have been separated for ten years, but we will be together for eternity.
Jesus knows our sorrow will only last for the night and joy will come in the morning, yet He still cares about our nights, and will comfort His suffering child. And at times, deep will call to deep.
What does this phrase that has inspired poets and painters mean?
Sunday Ice Breaker
Charles Spurgeon interpreted it as “the deep voice of God speaking deep into our souls.” If you have stood by a waterfall you know there is an echo. In the midst of tumult, in the midst of the wilderness, our God has a way of speaking to us. Usually it is through the Word, sometimes through the peace only He can give, and sometimes through a gift that comes with such uncanny timing that you know it is from Him. How I remember when my daughter Sally came to me on the 5th Anniversary of Steve’s death with news we had waited for so long: “I know it’s a sad day, Mom — but it’s a great day — I’m pregnant!”
1. Share a time when “Deep called to deep,” when in a time of sorrow or anxiety, the deep voice of God spoke deep into your soul.
Bible study: Monday-Wednesday
READ PSALM 42:
Read as a lover reads, lingering on the images. There are four water images. The first is familiar to us because of this praise song. Make this song a sacrifice of worship by singing with your mind and heart to the Lord.
1. In Psalm 42:1-2, what is the image? What do the streams of living water that the psalmist is trying to find represent?
2. The psalmist says he is not finding God. He is like a deer dying for water who comes all the way down from the mountain and finds the riverbed dry. What water image is in verse 3? How is this a true lament?
3. Look carefully and see if you can find hidden in this verse 3 the classic signs of depression. (weeping, not sleeping, not eating).
4. Find another causal factor to depression in verse 4.
5. Often, when facing an enormous trial, we want to withdraw. Have you felt that way? Why is that one of the worst things you can do?
6. If you are, indeed, withdrawing, talk to your soul and tell her some of the ways being with Christian brethren has encouraged you in the past.
I want to tell you how you, my sisters on this blog, have come to mean a great deal to me. It is often through you that God whispers, encourages, and guides. You are a well of water into which I dip. One of you sent me an engraved heart that says: “Love beneath the waves: deep calls to deep.” I treasure it and I treasure you.
7. Now, in Psalm 42:5, the psalmist does something very wise. He takes his soul in hand and asks him a question. What is it?
8. For those who have been through our idolatry study, what do you think he is really asking his soul?
9. What, according to verse 5, does he tell his soul to do?
10. As the psalmist (we aren’t sure if it was David, though Spurgeon says it reeks of David!) is far away from others who love God (he may be fleeing in the wilderness from enemies, he may be captured) he remembers times when he did have fellowship with brothers and sisters. He remembers how God was close to him. He is lamenting when suddenly God comes to him. In verse 7 we have the famous phrase “deep calls to deep.” What water image is it paired with? What do you know about the roar of waterfalls that would go with “deep calling to deep?”
10. The fourth water image is both negative and positive, though I for so long only saw it as negative. Find it in this same verse.
A. How could this water image be negative?
B. Verse 7 paired with verse 8 shows how this water image could be positive. What do you see?
11. Watch this and comment on it. What images from Psalm 42 do you find? Other thoughts?
12. Read Psalm 43. What do you see?
13. Why must we at times keep repeating the same truth to our souls?
14. LISTEN TO KELLER’S FREE SERMON ON PSALM 42 AND RECORD YOUR THOUGHTS: http://www.gospelinlife.com/finding-god-7916.html
15. ONE THING THAT IS INTERESTING TO ME, IS KELLER REFERS TO PEOPLE WHO SO BACKED AWAY FROM GOD IN THE MIDST OF PAIN THAT THEY ARE NOT SURE THEY ARE CHRISTIANS. WHAT THOUGHTS DO YOU HAVE ON THIS?
16. What is your take-a-way and why?