Saturday, 21 August 2010

Bible Gateway verse of the day: Psalm 42:8

By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. (Ps 42:8)
Today’s Bible Gateway verse is one of those potentially deceptive quotations that absolutely does need to be read in context.
It would be very easy to take it as simply a statement of God’s wonderful love and his abiding presence, and the security of our relationship with him: He loves me, and I respond in prayerful song.
But either side of this verse, all is uncertainty. In v 7 the Psalmist laments, “all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” And in v 9, “I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me?”
Indeed, there is much more in the Psalm about anxious searching for God (“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God”) than there is about dwelling securely with him.
We must never make the mistake of imagining that life with God is easy. There are times when faith is about hanging on to what we have experienced of Him in the past, (v 4, “These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude ...”), rather than what we know in the present (v 5, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?”)
The substance of faith must often be the future hope, (v 11) “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.”
Faith and agony of soul sometimes depend on the same experience of reality (v10): that God’s presence is neither immediately felt, nor outwardly demonstrable. That is why we must not then add feelings of guilt about this to our other problems!
John Richardson
21 August 2010
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1 comment:

  1. I wrote a paper on this Psalm (well, 42 and 43 together, since most scholars understand them to be one Psalm) in my final year of seminary. The deep anguish he expresses throughout the Psalm really makes the confidence in God he subsequently voices in verses like 42:8 seem quite striking. Hope and joy and confidence mean little without the context of trouble and suffering.

    The late Christian musician, Keith Green, had a song based on 42:1, and it was this gentle, peaceful tune that made you feel all warm inside. But it seems to me that if we were to set this Psalm to music, it should be the opposite of that. I think that our tendency to pull out the cheerful verses of a Psalm like this is because we just don't understand that laments like these can be expressions of worship. And we've become convinced that a faith which has doubts or questions or sufferings might just not be true faith. Oh, how much the Psalms can teach us!