PSALM 42 – I THIRST
Whenever I read this Psalm, the picture I see is of En Gedi, in Israel. En Gedi is a fresh water spring/oasis with cascading waterfalls and caves by the Dead Sea surrounded by the Judean wilderness. The water falls down into a pool and then overflows and falls down further into another pool. In this arid wilderness, what an oasis! (This is one of the MUST SEE places on any trip to Israel – contact me if you want to join us in March 2018 for the Ultimate Bucket-list Tour, hehe, not in a yellow kombi).
“Psalms 42 and 43 were originally one psalm, though there are no compelling explanations for how the psalm got separated into two poems. Numerous Hebrew manuscripts treat them as one. There is no title for Psalm 43, which is surprising in Book 2. And the threefold refrain divides Psalms 42–43 into three relatively equal strophes. Psalm 42:1 contains the primary theme of the psalm: our longing for God. Each strophe amplifies this theme: longing expressed as thirst (42:1–5), longing expressed in discouragement (42:6–11), and longing expressed through prayer (43:1–5).” (Futato, M. D. (2009). The Book of Psalms. In Cornerstone Biblical Commentary)
David often sought refuge and restoration here in the wilderness, away from his enemies, but as you can see from the rugged terrain, water was an absolute necessity. Some other elements in this Psalm are frequent images that David uses from his daily life here in the wilderness of En Gedi: A deer (Ibex at En Gedi) v1, waterfalls v7, rocks v9.
The drought that we are experiencing here in the Eastern Cape helps us to understand the desperate thirst of God’s creatures for life-giving water. The fact is you cannot live without water. David uses the thirst of the deer for streams of water to illustrate his own longing for God. He expresses his longing in Ps 42:5, 11, Ps 43:5: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” He answers with the life-giving water answer: “ Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God”
This reminds me of our Saviour, the One who gives Living Water, without cost, He invites us in Isaiah 55:1-2 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance.…”
Also the invitation in Revelation 21:6: Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.”
I end with this encouragement from Isaiah 12:3 and Ps 36:9: “with JOY you will draw water from the wells of salvation”. For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.
Are you thirsty? What are you going to do about it?