Rejection is the pervading note of this hymn. The joys of
the sanctuary are forbidden. Insulting foes augment distress. In conclusion,
the soul is chided for yielding to despondency.
1, 2. "As the deer pants after the water-brooks, so
pants my soul after You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
when shall I come and appear before God?"
A tender and expressive image meets us. The deer,
exhausted by long flight beneath the scorching sun, or in the dusty plain,
pants for the cooling stream in which to quench the pangs of thirst. How
eagerly relief is sought! Here is the believer banished from the sweet
refreshments of the sanctuary. It is not so much the outward form which is
the object of desire, but the intimate communion with God, to which the
services, when duly used, would surely raise. In true worship God's presence
is sought and found, and thoroughly enjoyed.
3, 4. Day and night, I have only tears for food, while
my enemies continually taunt me, saying, "Where is this God of yours?" 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—it was the sound of a great celebration!
Fast flowing tears testified the deep sorrows of the
Redeemer's heart, when He heard the revilings of His foes. They taunted Him
with the sneer, that surely His banishment from holy service was proof that
God had forsaken Him. He remembered the happy seasons when, in happy
company, He sought the sanctuary, and joined His praises to those of the
multitude of fellow-worshipers. It is the very foretaste of heaven, with one
mind, and one mouth, to unite in public adoration.
5. "Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you
disturbed in me? hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His
Too much depression is a sign of weak faith—anxiety
should never occupy a godly heart. It is well to chide the soul, and rouse
it from its downcast state. Hope should go forth in lively exercise. In
darkest days it should look to Jesus, and take courage. Nothing should
weaken the assurance that the outcome of the most grievous trials will be
increased thanksgiving to our God.
6. "O my God, my soul is cast down within me;
therefore will I remember You from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites,
from the hill Mizar."
Its consolation is not easily eradicated. Like the
noxious weed again and again it reappears. But thoughts of God will still
revive in the faithful breast. Though God may be apparently far distant, the
eye of faith will turn towards Him. Though driven beyond Jordan, the
Psalmist still remembers Zion, and the tabernacles of his God.
7, 8. "I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your
waves and surging tides sweep over me. Through 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."
As wave upon wave, distress will sometimes follow
distress. As descending rain swells the streams, and floods overwhelm the
plains, so torrents of sorrow will oppress the heart. Yet the believer is
sustained by undoubting trust. He knows that lovingkindness has received a
mandate to visit him throughout the day, and to cheer him with songs in the
night season, and to strengthen him to wrestle with God in prayer, as the
God who maintains his life.
9, 10. "I will say to God my rock, Why have You
forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? As
with a sword in my bones, my enemies reproach me; while they say daily to
me, Where is your God?"
When the believer can realize that God is his rock, he is
bold to expostulate, and thinks it no presumption to implore attention to
his suffering case. He states as the extremity of his anguish, that he is
pierced to the quick by the impious insolence of cruel mockers, who
reiterate the taunt, that God has forsaken him, and is indifferent to his
woe. He appeals to God, Why am I thus afflicted?
11. "Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you
disturbed within me? hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, who is the
health of my countenance, and my God."
Admonition with the soul is repeated. Trials will return;
and they must be met with renewal of spiritual reasoning. The covenant is
forever settled in heaven. Hope, therefore, should never fail. Deliverance
will surely come. The voice of praise will again shout, "He is the health of
my countenance, and my God."