Advent

Sure Rescue

1 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
    as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
    and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
    a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;
    therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
    from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
    have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
    and at night his song is with me,
    a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock:
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my bones,
    my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

(Psalm 42, ESV)

My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you

We all know what it feels like for the soul to be cast down.  What do you do when your soul is cast down? Where do you turn for comfort?  I know the places my heart goes when I’m feeling crushed, sad, or hopeless. I’ve worn easy, straight paths to anger, despair, and cynicism in my heart.

But this psalmist doesn’t turn to lesser comforts in a time of trial- he turns to God. This seems odd…it is God who has allowed His waves and breakers to crush this person.  They are left looking for God, with enemies taunting them besides! God allowed this person to experience great suffering, and then hid himself. But even so, the psalmist chooses to do what we talk about so often in advent: wait for God to show up.  The writer knows that the lesser comforts simply won’t do.

I like to imagine Adam reading this psalm.  Adam was not only cast out of God’s presence…he was justly and rightly cast out because he listened to the serpent!  Every wave and breaker from God was well deserved. But even in his immense guilt (it’s hard to imagine how immense), Adam had no choice but to wait for the God who he sinned against to rescue him.  There is no other rock, no other salvation, and no better comfort. And we also have no other sure salvation, no other hope than the rescue from our own sin: Christ the Messiah, the one Adam and the psalmist were both waiting for. May we turn to Him for comfort that nothing and no one else can provide.  Even if we must wait, His help is sure to come.