“As the deer pants [longingly] for the water brooks, So my soul pants [longingly] for You, O God. My soul (my life, my inner self) thirsts for God, for the living God. When will I come and see the face of God? My tears have been my food day and night, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I [vividly] remember as I pour out my soul; How I used to go along before the great crowd of people and lead them in procession to the house of God [like a choirmaster before his singers, timing the steps to the music and the chant of the song], With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a great crowd keeping a festival. Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become restless and disturbed within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence. O my God, my soul is in despair within me [the burden more than I can bear]; Therefore I will [fervently] remember You from the land of the Jordan And the peaks of [Mount] Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep at the [thundering] sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me. Yet the Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song will be with me, A prayer to the God of my life. I will say to God my rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As a crushing of my bones [with a sword], my adversaries taunt me, While they say continually to me, “Where is your God?” Why are you in despair, O my soul? Why have you become restless and disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”
Psalms 42:1-11 AMP
“Judge and vindicate me, O God; plead my case against an ungodly nation. O rescue me from the deceitful and unjust man! For You are the God of my strength [my stronghold—in whom I take refuge]; why have You rejected me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places. Then I will go to the altar of God, To God, my exceeding joy; With the lyre I will praise You, O God, my God! Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you restless and disturbed within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my [sad] countenance and my God.”
Psalms 43:1-5 AMP
Perhaps these two chapters are some of the most moving verses of lament. The beautiful analogy of the deer panting for water describes the desperation of the Psalmist to encounter God. As we read further, we realize that this hunger for God comes from a place of significant loss and sorrow. The Psalmist recalls their past encounters with God and can't seem to reconcile why his life is so sorrowful.
On several occasions, the Psalmist, overwhelmed by emotion, speaks to his very own soul crying out.
"Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God."
There are times in our lives when our soul seems to take over every part of our being, bringing down our emotions and our ability to walk in the Spirit. In those moments, we must learn to speak to our soul. When we choose to walk in the Spirit rather than being trapped in the sorrow of our own emotions, we find peace. Commanding our soul to put our hope in God reminds us that He is the one who saves us, and our problems become smaller in light of his greatness.
Do you find yourself sometimes carried away by the weight of your emotions? Practice choosing to put your hope in God. Tell your soul that you will not be controlled by how you feel, but choose to praise God at all times.