As a Deer Pants

As a Deer Pants

“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?” - Psalm 42:1-2

Given how we use this verse in our modern hymns, it might be assumed that Psalm 42 is a psalm of praise and that this verse is a simple statement of love and deep seated desire. However, Psalm 42 is a psalm of lament, and the sentiments described in this verse are more complex and illuminating.

It appears that the psalmist is facing severe afflictions of some kind (“my tears have been my food night and day” “all you breakers and waves have gone over me”) and taunting from the non-religious due to his sufferings. This causes him to wrestle with his faith, and utter the phrase, “[my] soul pants for you.” He is expressing his longing for what he feels he no longer has. He is lamenting his easy, simple faith that he had before the trials and mocking. He longs for the day where can comfortably and confidently “appear before God” and “praise Him again.”

We too can wrestle with our faith in these types of situations. We can long for the simple, easy faith that he was prior to the struggles. But here’s the point: talk to God about these struggles! Express, like the psalmist, your longing for a renewed closeness to Him. Tell Him about your hope to once again praise Him. Fight for your faith. Work with God to restore your confidence in Him. Then watch as your faith is strengthened and purified.