Inspired by the Africa Study Bible

As the deer longs for streams of water,    
    so I long for you, O God.
I thirst for God, the living God.
    When can I go and stand before him?
Day and night I have only tears for food,
    while my enemies continually taunt me, saying,
    “Where is this God of yours?”

Psalm 42:1-3. Why do we hunger and thirst? Our bodies know when it is time to refuel, and it sends us signals to let us know that we need to eat or drink soon in order to continue functioning properly. Our bodies long for their source of power. God has instilled in every human being a longing for him. However, not everyone realizes what that longing means, where it is from, or how to fulfill it. We are wired to want and need God. This psalmist recognises his need for God and speaks it aloud. Why does this psalmist express his need for God over and over again? Think of this: a phone or computer will not run off its battery forever. It will need to be plugged into a power source via a charger eventually. Humans are the same way. We continually try to act out of our own power, gain control, and make choices without including God. We can only run off our “battery” for so long. This psalmist puts his full hope and trust in God because he knows that God is the only one that can provide, satisfy, and give hope.

This is why we see so many people in the world in a place of misery and confusion. People who do not know the power of Jesus that is displayed in Psalm 42 hit rock bottom, or “empty battery”. Psalm 42 is a great psalm not only to speak out loud, but also to constantly remember in any type of situation. The first three verses are good for a self-reflection and check-in. Are we longing for God in the way that this psalmist expresses? If not, what are we longing for instead? Do we believe that God is the only source of life and freedom?

My heart is breaking
    as I remember how it used to be:
I walked among the crowds of worshipers,
    leading a great procession to the house of God,
singing for joy and giving thanks
    amid the sound of a great celebration!

Psalm 42:4.The psalmist expresses that he misses how “it used to be”, as it says in the New Living Translation, when he worshipped in the temple with other believers. He has seen God’s faithfulness in his life and has experienced the joy that his presence consistently brings. The psalmist goes back to the God that he knows will never fail him.

Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Saviour and 
my God!

Now I am deeply discouraged,
    but I will remember you—
even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan,
    from the land of Mount Mizar.
I hear the tumult of the raging seas
    as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.
But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
    and through each night I sing his songs,
    praying to God who gives me life.

Psalm 42:5-8. Sometimes we do not understand what God is doing or his reasoning behind it. Human beings are very feelings-based creatures. In many situations, we know that our feelings and our heart will deceive us. The psalmist asks God why his heart is so sad and why he must go through a time of oppression by his enemies. God never asks us to understand, he asks us to obey and glorify him as we do so. He asks us to be mission-minded and to look at every situation as an opportunity to serve or evangelize. The psalmist is a great example of the attitude we should have. He does not understand, but he chooses to hope in God rather than trust his fleeting feelings. We must hold fast to the truth over emotions.

“O God my rock,” I cry,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I wander around in grief,
    oppressed by my enemies?”
10 Their taunts break my bones.
    They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”

11 Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Saviour and my God!

Psalm 42: 9-11. As Christians, we will experience oppression in the world. Although that oppression looks different in various circumstances for Christians all over the world, we can be sure that it will come in some form. The psalmist is being taunted and teased by his enemies that do not believe the same way he does. We as Christians cannot let other people’s opinions hold us back from our purpose. Give people the freedom to misunderstand you.

Perhaps you have a most excellent love for God, but you hear your enemies make fun of your longing to know him. Do not be troubled. Instead notice that your hope in God brings eternal blessing and comfort. Be encouraged and calmed by your soul’s love for God and recite Psalm 42.

– Athanasius

Did you enjoy what you have read? Would you like more in-depth devotionals that promote discipleship and equip for Christian leadership? Follow the link for options on how to get your copy of the Africa Study Bible, one of Oasis’s greatest and most popular resources.

Below, watch a short clip about the Africa Study Bible, the creation process, and the heart behind one of the most influential, diverse African Christian resources in print:

Want to share your thoughts on this subject? We’d love to hear from you! Send us your name and message below. Be sure to copy the title of this blog, “Psalm 42 Reflection.”

Your views