Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Part 38
What I Read Today: Psalm 42-49.
What Stood Out About What I Read: Psalm 42: 1-8, “As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God! I thirst for God, for the living God. I say, “When will I be able to go and appear in God’s presence?” I cannot eat, I weep day and night; all day long they say to me, “Where is your God?” I will remember and weep! For I was once walking along with the great throng to the temple of God, shouting and giving thanks along with the crowd as we celebrated the holy festival. Why are you depressed, O my soul? Why are you upset? Wait for God! For I will again give thanks to my God for his saving intervention. I am depressed, so I will pray to you while I am trapped here in the region of the upper Jordan, from Hermon, from Mount Mizar. One deep stream calls out to another at the sound of your waterfalls; all your billows and waves overwhelm me. By day the Lord decrees his loyal love, and by night he gives me a song, a prayer to the living God.”
Random Thoughts About What I Read:
You remember, grunge, right? Pearl Jam. Nirvana. Soundgarden. Flannel shirts. Rain and drizzle of Seattle. Hair over their eyes. Staring at the floor while they sung. Strip the stage down to microphones and amps and let it rip. Small clubs and stage diving. Angry at nothing. Angry at everything. Took the bridge out of songs and just went verse-chorus-verse. Very quiet & thoughtful followed by very loud & angry.
I loved it.
Reminded me so much of the punk movement that I was as into as a kid in suburban Alabama in the late 70’s/early 80’s could be into it. The punk movement, especially the bands I was into, was really angry. Sure, it had it’s own look and sound, but it was all about anger.
Eventually, all anger gets tired. Punk burned out and got tired. Enter grunge and depression. Depression is tired anger.
(As an aside, depression eventually causes you to lose hope. Enter the Rave scene, which is all about loud music, party style and–in many cases–drug use & sensual experiences. A logical next step for a generation of kids who lost hope. It’s an eat-drink-be-merry kind of scene)
And Psalm 42 is, in my mind, a perfect grunge Psalm. It’s a tired anger when you think about it.
It even begins with an analogy of a soul thirsty for God…thirsty like a deer looking for a river. He really misses his God, man. It’s a physical need he’s done without and striving hard to find. Any guy who’s been away from his girl for a significant length of time knows this kind of longing. That’s the best way I can think of to describe it.
So, he’s thirsty for God, who’s alive and the author can’t seem to find Him.
He’s eating his tears as food. Others have been pointing out that the writer’s God isn’t exactly showing Himself, too. That’s always helpful, right?
He remembers the old days when times were better…when the throngs were followed God enthusiastically. His soul is in despair. His soul is disturbed. He mentions that he’ll praise Him again (note: not doing so now). God’s presence isn’t there now. His soul is in despair. He remembers the times in the past by the Jordan, and Mount Hermon. He uses imagery that Jonah used when he was in the belly of the great fish…with billows rolling over him.
And that’s just the first 7 verses!
It picks up again in verse 9. He’s asking why God has forgotten him. He is being oppressed by his enemy, which feels like death. He’s in mourning. It’s like his bones are shattering the pain is so great (I’ve broken my tibia & fibula before, so I really get that imagery!). People are still taking note that His God isn’t around. Again, in verse 11 his soul is in despair. It’s disturbed within him. The psalm eventually ends with almost a shrug of the shoulders and admitting that the writer will, at some point in the future, praise God. His facial expression and body language is struggling to do so, but he will praise His God.
Depressing, man. Seattle rain and drizzle. Flannel. Quiet.
But it got loud there for a second, too, man. Did you catch what I left out?
It’s so out of place. Right after the sea billows are rolling over the depressed man it says, “The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime! His song will be with me in the night! A prayer to the God of my life!”
…the ray of true hope. His loyal love is there no matter what. His song will be with the writer each night no matter what. He prays anyway, to the God he loves and desperately wants to see while he’s in the muck. All day, every day. 24/7/365. No matter what it looks like at the moment.
What he sees isn’t what really is.
It’s what he doesn’t see and feel that really is.
And that’s the heart of the Psalm. The writer knows His God is there regardless of how he feels. He knows that feelings are responders primarily…not definers of truth. He knows his feelings are often liars and subject to change at any moment.
God is none of those things.
He is Truth.
He is constant.
He is reality.
Regardless of how we feel.
And, yes. It’s okay to be down in the dumps. Depressed even. In some ways, it’s the most honest view of any given situation…
…until you take eternity into consideration to balance reality.
It’s a nice reminder that God is with us in the muck and mire. Even if we’re depressed. Even if you’re eating tears for food. Even if the rest of the world is asking where your God is. Even if your soul is looking for God like a thirsty animal and he doesn’t seem to be anywhere around.
He is there.
And Who we know…
…and What we know…
is what we should hang our hats on. Even in the muck and mire.
(Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalms 50-56)