Psalm 42: Desiring God

The psalmist has lost not belief in God but the experience of meeting with the living God (verse 2). Human beings need the sense of God’s presence and love as much as the body pants after water (verse 1). His first response to this dryness is to simply remind himself that it will not last (verse 5). “This too shall pass” is a fact about any condition in this changeful world. While often painful, the truth can be used for comfort too. Though our good things will inevitably be shaken, a believer’s difficult times will always end as well. Only when we are safe in heaven, surrounded forever by love unshakable, will all fear of change be gone. Hope in God, for we shall again praise him. 

As the psalm proceeds we see that the phrase “I will yet praise him” (verses 5 and 11; Psalm 43:5) is not a mere prediction of change but an active exercise. When we are discouraged, we listen to the fearful speculations of our hearts. “What if this happens?” “Maybe it’s because of that!” Here instead we see the psalmist not merely listening to his troubled heart but addressing it, taking his soul in hand, saying, “Remember this, O soul!” He reminds his heart of the loving things God has done (verse 6–8). He also tells his heart that God is working within the troubles—the waves sweeping over him are “your” waves (verse 7). This self-communion is a vital spiritual discipline.