Sunday, July 31, 2011

Psalm 42

1 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?
4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.
5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.
6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.
7 Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.
8 Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
9 I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
10 As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?
11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Key Verse:
5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

Key Observation:
Now we begin the Exodus Psalms. They are Psalm 42 through 72. Psalm 42 and 43 are very closely related. Why hast thou forgotten me is a Messianic cry.

Memory Verse:
2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?


McGee has an interesting description of the next section of psalms, the Exodus Psalms.
“In the Genesis and Exodus sections of the Psalms there is an interesting contrast of the names of God. In the Genesis section the name Jehovah occurs 272 times, while the name Elohim occurs only fifteen times. In the Exodus section the name Elohim occurs 164 times, and the name Jehovah occurs only thirty times. What is the significance of this? These two personal names of God have different meanings. Elohim speaks of the fullness of God’s divine power. The name Jehovah is involved in redemption. Jehovah is the One who keeps Israel.”
In general then we might expect Genesis Psalms (Jehovah) to speak of redemption, and the Exodus Psalms (Elohim) to speak of the power of God in keeping Israel. There is a beautiful picture of the sanctification purposes of God here. Redemption, I would add, is the word of God, and the grace which makes man free from sin; sanctification, I would say, is the power of God given to us in the Holy Spirit, to keep up free from the weakness of sin. Thus I would expect the Genesis Psalms to speak of the redeeming work of God; the Exodus Psalms to speak of God’s power keeping us from or through the presence of sin.

Hebrews 11 adds to the beautiful picture here. In 11:28, does not God speak of redemption when He says: “By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel”? Does not God, in the next verse, speak of sanctification when He says: “By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land, but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned”?

Verse 29 is a beautiful picture of baptism. The whole nation of Israel was led under the waters of the Red Sea, and brought out to a new beginning on the other side, forever free of the slavery of the Egyptians. First it is a picture of general believer’s baptism, going down into the water to symbolize the death of the old life, and then up out of the water to begin a new life. Second it symbolizes the new life of the Spirit being assumed; the old life being left under the sea. Both of these are works of God!

Is this not the work of God in the life of the believer? A. W. Tozer says:
“The Christian message rightly understood means this: The God who by the word of the gospel proclaims men free, by the power of the gospel actually makes them free. To accept less than this is to know the gospel in word only, without its power.”
First comes redemption, and then as Tozer properly points out, then comes sanctification, or the separation of God for his believer from the power of sin. That is why we are to expect that the typical believer will first be redeemed by his faith, but then in his walk, will experience the sanctifying power of God, enabling him to turn away from his old life of sin and into his new life of holiness. What a beautiful mosaic God has painted here!

But I need a final word on the psalm itself. You probably wonder if there is evidence of the sanctifying power of God in this psalm. “By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life. (NIV)” I give you the sanctifying power of God in this verse. The hunger and thirst spoken of in the psalm is the hunger and thirst God has created in us, that we should desire his presence. Our Lord was later to tell us, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. It is the job of God to create this hunger in us that we might seek to be filled.

I love to read biographies of Christians, particularly when they tell me of the real struggles men and women had with living Christian lives. William Carey, praying and writing over his coming missionary experience said: “I have reason to lament over a barrenness of soul, and am sometimes discouraged; for if I am so dead and stupid, how can I expect to be of any use among the heathen?” I tell you this, if William Carey could feel empty, dead, and stupid, then maybe it is okay for me to feel that way also. What did he do? He prayed and waited on God, was filled and led one of the more fruitful missionary lives that history has ever seen. “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (NIV)” Perhaps my trusting and praying will yet lead to being used of God!

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