Reading through the Bible together
To the chief Musician, a Contemplation.
To the Hebrew, seeking God meant going to Jerusalem to the Temple for the great festivals and approaching God there to confess sins and offer a sacrifice. Beholding God, meeting God, meant making a pilgrimage to Zion to stand in His presence. The speaker in Psalm 42 is in exile, longing for God, feeling that in order to really be with Him, he needs to be in Zion. He looks back in memory on those high points of his spiritual journey when he approached the holy mountain.
Despair takes hold of his heart when he thinks about his present circumstances, far from home, far from the Temple. Waves of hopelessness pour over his soul. Then his hopes begin to rise. He realizes that the light of God’s truth will guide him into God’s presence even in a pagan land. The exile takes courage from God’s promises that Jerusalem will be restored and God’s people will again worship Him there.
In times of discouragement, we often feel that we have been violently taken by the Enemy far from our spiritual home and far from God. We may look back with nostalgia to past victories, times and places where we felt very near to God. Like the Jewish exiles in Babylon, we feel like hanging up our harps and giving up singing entirely. But as we read this Psalm, we see even in repeated moments of discouragement, faith growing stronger, confidence in God’s promises growing stronger. Being spiritually up and down (what they call bi-polar) is normal to our human condition; however, God offers us escape from such cycles of faith and despair. We do not need to remain exiles, only remembering home.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, that wherever I am, I can call upon You, never questioning that You will hear me. And because You are with me anywhere, I can always be “at home.” Amen.
Southern Adventist University