Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.
This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.
I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.
A Need Presented to God
The psalmist has had a realization in the midst of his experience, in the midst of a period of sorrow, loneliness and mockery, where some are constantly wearing him down, asking “Where is your God?” In the midst of his inner conflicts, he has come to a realization that he will praise God again. The current situation is not permanent, and through this realization, he speaks to himself of hoping in God. Hoping in God in order to stabilize his thinking, his life and to endure through his time of struggle.
In our next couple of verses, the psalmist describes his distance from God in a geographical sense
A Prayer from Afar
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. – Psa 42:6 ESV
The land of Jordan is to the east of the Jordan River, with the psalmists further clarification of his location being given as Mount Hermon. This mount is famous through the Old Testament and is northeast of the Sea of Galilee, per the map provided.
Mount Mizar is another matter, for I have not found a location for this mount. Some have referred to it a a minor hill near Hermon. Suffice to say, the psalmist is far from the temple, and this distance is what is exacerbating his thinking. His horizontal distance from God is great and he is at an utter loss due to this separation.
A Prayer from a Depth
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.
Being in the mountains of Hermon, the psalmist may have been near a waterfall, and provided a fitting description of his own state of mind. As the water crashed to the bottom of the falls, two things may have come to his mind.
First, the relentless, continual crashing of water to the base of the falls, with the turbulence of the water picturing his own outer trials. As the water falls, it drags all other things into the base, drawing them down into the mix, a physical force that cannot be resisted. This may be a fitting picture as the psalmists compares this continual water pounding the base of the falls, with his own internal struggles.
Secondly, the continual roaring of the falls, may act as a constant reminder of his inner trials. As the noise roars on, it is a constant mental reminder of the struggles he is in, a battle on another front that is constantly influencing and distracting the psalmist. We must remember that though he has spoken of praise in the future, he is still in the experience of being cast down, in a valley, and is at this time, hanging on through hope in God.
Hope, in our modern thinking may be synonymous with wishing for a possible event to occur. Not unlike when I hear someone say, “I sure hope it rains this month”.
Others may refer to hope as describing a condition we all know won’t occur without divine intervention, as in referring to a loved ones situation after being diagnosed with a terminal sickness. We have heard it said, “Well the only thing we have left is hope…”
This latter definition may be somewhat the condition the psalmist has in mind. Far from God and experiencing an internal drowning in his own life struggles, he realizes his only hope is in God.
Hope, as I understand it, has one thing in common. Hope consists of knowing that positive outcomes shall occur after an unknown period of time. If this is a correct understanding of hope, for the psalmist to have a confident expectation of good outcomes through this experience, he does not simply say that he hopes things turn out. He connects this expectation with God. By that I mean, his expectation of his future outcome resides in God, and not according to his current situation.
This is the Christians hope, based in God and the truth He has provided to us. He is faithful and good, and we can safely hope in Him at our most dire of times.
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