Psalms of the Sons of Korah: Introduction (5)
Opening Prayer: Psalm 42.1-3
As the deer pants for the water brooks,
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 continually say to me,
“Where is your God?”
Sing Psalm 42.1-3
(Nettleton: Come Thou Fount)
As the deer pants for fresh water let my soul, Lord, pant for You!
Let my soul thirst as it ought to for the Savior, ever true!
Tears by day have been my portion, tears by night have been my food,
while my foes add to my sorrow, saying, “Where now is your God?”
Read Psalm 42
1. How did the sons of Korah describe the condition of their soul?
2. Where did they turn for the renewal of their soul?
The people who passed by the sons of Korah as they kept the gates of the temple were on their way to appear before the Lord. The looks on their faces may have revealed something of the intensity, sincerity, anticipation, or hope that coming before God engendered in them. In various of their psalms, the sons of Korah taught them what to expect and how to prepare for appearing before the Lord, and they gave them words to express their longing.
When our soul is downcast, the remedy is to seek the Presence of the Lord, like a deer panting after the water of a brook (Ps. 42.1, 2). He has the living water to slake the dryness in our soul. In His Presence we discover the light for our path and peace to help us endure in our journey (Pss. 43, 84).
But we must prepare well for our appearing before the Lord, setting aside all distractions and lesser loves to devote our attention entirely on Him (Ps. 45.10-15). In His Presence we must be still, relax, and sink into the arms of His love, so that we know Him in His exalted beauty and rest all our hopes in Him (Ps. 46.10).
We come to God confident that He will receive us because He has been gracious to us, making us His sons and daughters, and redeeming our soul for His glory (Ps. 49.15). We come into His Presence to focus on His glory, give Him abundant praise and thanks, sink into His joy and holiness and strength, and to hear about His great salvation to ever-increasing depths (Ps. 85.8, 9).
The better we prepare for coming into the Presence of the Lord, the more His Presence will enfold, enthrall, and transform us.
Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
In the grace and mercy of God, we are never judged for asking questions. At least the right questions.
In Psalm 42 the sons of Korah asked these questions:
“When shall I come and appear before God?”
“Why are you cast down, O my soul?”
“Why are you disquieted within me?”
“Why have You forgotten me?”
“Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
The psalmists question God with “When?” and “Why?” but they never question the existence of God. It is only others who question “Where?” (Ps. 42.3, 10).
There is no valid question relating to God’s “whereabouts”. David sums that up for us with:
“Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there Your hand shall lead me, and
Your right hand shall hold me” (Ps. 139.7-10).
God understands that we may feel downcast and disquieted. He knows we may even feel forgotten. But He also knows that He is always everywhere that we might ever be, to offer us love and hope. “Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God” (Ps. 42.5, 11).
1. How do you prepare for appearing before the Lord – in prayer, during your devotions, for worship?
2. Why is appearing before the Lord the Christian’s greatest privilege and blessing?
3. How can we as Christians encourage one another to seek the Presence of the Lord more consistently?
Christ the Lord is the fountain of waters from which flows everything that restores us. Flowing streams can often run dry, but a fountain is always supplied with water. So we are rightly invited to hurry to the liquid of the sacred source; there our desire is never able to experience thirst. Cassiodorus (485-580), Explanation of the Psalms 42.2
Closing Prayer: Psalm 42.4-11
Let your soul long for the Presence of the Lord. Look into the glorious face of Jesus (v. 5, cf. 2 Cor. 4.6) and rest in the strength of His might and love. Recall all the good works He does for you; commit your day to Him.
Sing Psalm 42.4-11
(Nettleton: Come Thou Fount)
Now I pour my soul out in me as these thoughts come to my mind.
And I long to once again be where true worship I might find.
Oh my soul, be not despairing! Hope in God, and praise His Name!
For the Lord, your burden bearing, will restore your peace again.
Oh my God, my soul is weary, therefore I remember You.
Let Your grace and goodness near be, and Your promise, firm and true.
Lord, when trials and fears surround me, Your commands will be my song;
when distresses sore confound me, Your great love will keep me strong.
Lord, forget me not in mourning ‘neath my foes’ oppressing hand.
See their mocking, hear their scorning; help my weary soul to stand.
Hope in God, praise Him forever when despair on you has trod.
Look to Jesus; never, never doubt your gracious, saving God.
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Praying the Psalms
In this series, we are examining twelve psalms, learning their content, drawing on their wisdom, and praying and singing them to the Lord. For a fuller explanation of how to pray the psalms, order a copy of our book, God’s Prayer Program. It’s free by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.