Psalm 42: Deep Calls to Deep

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Psalm 42

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?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
    as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
    and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
    a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation 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.
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.
I say to God, my rock:
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my bones,
    my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

Neighborhood Trees #9 | Cypress, TX | January 2023

Bruce was a most amazingly gifted counselor. I was directed to him by a member of the church I was serving at the time. She said that she saw some amazing things happen in the counseling room as he probed, observed, waited, and commented. I decided to go see him because there were things in my life that I just couldn’t get beyond. Issues that were forever unresolved. And I too saw some amazing things happen there.

Like the time I was lamenting being overlooked by my reckoning at a conference I was attending. He said, “You mean God and you wasn’t enough.” Struck a deep chord in me. Or the time we were talking about some particularly difficult times in my younger years and how God did or did not intervene. He said, “God isn’t a wimp. He could have stopped that. Do you know what he wanted from you then?” He went on to help me understand that God desired me to turn to him and find comfort from him in those hard places. Quite a challenge to be sure. There are more examples I could list, but when I read these verses,

Deep calls to deep
    at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
    have gone over me…

…I think of Bruce. He had a deep well from which he drew the wisdom of God. And God spoke deeply to me through Bruce. His was no surface faith. His was the Mariana Trench of deep truths of God, and I was deeply impacted by the wisdom, love, and grace he shared with me.

David speaks here of being overcome by the breakers and waves of God, even as he expresses appreciation for the depth of God’s steadfast love, pure wisdom, profound grace, and far-reaching truth. St. Jerome once said that “the Scriptures are shallow enough for a babe to come and drink without fear of drowning and deep enough for theologians to swim in without ever touching the bottom.”

There’s good reason for us to consider both extremes of that quote. We far underestimate the profound implication of Jesus’ death and his promise of eternal life if we relegate the Christian faith to a simple transaction: you-believe-in-Jesus-and-you-get-to-go-to-heaven. By the same token, however, if you think that the Christian faith is too inaccessible and because you cannot understand it’s mysteries, it should be relegated to the philosophical debate academies, you are missing the simple truth that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 

Deep calls to deep. God is calling us to a deep love for him, a deep faith in his goodness, a deep love for one another, and a deep desire to be with him and experience his salvation. That is worthy of deep thought, deep thanks, and a deep desire for more of God.

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