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Brothers and sisters, how great it is to be at the top of your game.

And I don’t mean only in sport.

I mean, at the top of your game …

          at peace …with every day life … how great is that.

You are healthy; your relationship with your wife and children is good.

          And you feel in your very being, that God is close to you in everything    you do.

How wonderful it is to be at peace with God our creator!

David had days like this.

No doubt Psalm 23 was written on a day that he felt this way.

You know the words…“1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters…”


But all of life is not Psalm 23 moments, are they?

And how often does it not happen that even though we may be feeling at the top of the world the one moment….

The next moment we find ourselves in the depths of despair.

Do you know the feeling?

Well, it turns out, we are not alone!

Feeling deserted, or depressed, or worried, is not just a disease of the 21st century.

The Psalms describe many a moment like this.

And David, in Psalm 42 and 43 portrays such moments.

Yes, the same David who composed Psalm 21, is most likely, also the author of Psalm 42/43.

I find encouragement in that?

…in the fact that even the seemingly invincible ones among us,

          also have desperate days,

                   lonely days?

                             Where are you God? days.

And of course, we are reminded of another man,

          the greatest of all men, who suffered a moment of total dejection,

                   a moment of agonizing loneliness?

Will we not be encouraged by that?

(We will return to this thought in more detail…)

Psalm 42 and 43 (and most scholars now agree that these two psalms are really just one Psalm)…is what is called a Maskil,

          …which is the term used to describe a piece of poetry, or music, that     has as its purpose, to instruct.

With other words, the Psalmist wants us to learn something from this song.

And the way David goes about it is to draw from his own experiences.

His experiences, as we have seen, are of course also our experiences,

even here in the 21st Century.

          So we freely identify with David.

So what exactly does David want to teach as he composes this Psalm…

And…what does David learn as the words come to his mind?


When we look at the structure of the poem, we soon realise that the author is trying to teach us …even as he starts out by pondering his misery.

David, clearly, is feeling far removed from God.

Whether it is because he is unable to visit the temple, as some commentators have suggested

- which in those days was a major disaster because the Israelites believed that the temple was the only place they had authentic access to God –


          or whether he is feeling spiritually removed from God, perhaps due to     an awareness of some unspoken sin that he had committed in his      heart…

David feels deserted!

Perhaps one of the first questions we should ask ourselves then, as we read this Psalm, is this:

          what is it that makes us feel distanced from God?

And note B&S it is not just any old feeling of being distanced – a feeling of missing someone

          It is an agonizing realisation of the feeling that God is not present.

David is devastated!

///////Do you know the feeling?

Feeling out of God’s sight, far from God, is an awefull feeling.

And that is what David is experiencing.

It is terrible!

See how David puts it into poetic language…” 1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.

2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

When can I go and meet with God?

I might illustrate it this way…

Willie and Rialize Nel not too long ago went on an excursion into the NSW outback.

          What they saw is far worse than what we see on our television screens.

They witnessed sheep carcasses rotting alongside the roads…l

          live stock little more than walking skeletons….

These sheep were panting for some form, any form of moisture…

How these farmer and there livestock must long for the rains to return, for the drought to end? Like a deer pants for water, that is how they must yearn for God’s mercy…

Some of you may have seen the film, Dirkie, a film by Jamie Uys in SA in the seventies…

          In that film there is a scene that drives home David’s yearning, David’s thirst for God in two ways…

          It is the story of a little boy, probably about ten years old, who survives an aeroplane crash in the desert, and who then tries to walk to a place where he might find help.

But he gets lost, and all forms of catastrophe overcomes him …

he is stung by a scorpion….and worst of all, very soon he has no water…

As he stumbles along, near death, thirsty…the one think, the one thought he clings to,

          are the words…”my dad loves me, he will find me”

A bit like David holding on for dear life to the words of the refrain he writes..,

It is as if David is reaching out to God, as if he needs to be held by God, but it seems to him like God is not there…

See his anguish…

3 My tears have been my food

day and night,

Literally…my tears have been my meat…day and night.

Can you see the contrast…

David thirsts for God. He longs to quench his thirst

But what does he have in the place of God’s living water, the water that willhave you thirst no more?

He has tears … and they are salty!

His tears are like meat to him.

Who needs meat, when you are thirsty.

And his anguish does not end there…

…as David thirsts for God, not only does he feel lost and lonely, distanced from God,

          he also has to suffer the taunts of those mocking him about the very       essence of that which he longs for.

                   He is down, and he is being kicked…

He reminds us of Job, that Leo is preaching on at present, doesn’t he?

“men say to me all day long,

“Where is your God?””

This is spiritual warfare at its best, brothers and sisters…

Of course, what the scoffers, as non-believing people, are really saying, is:      Well? Come on mate!

                   You’re forever saying you believe and trust in God.

Look at you! Where is your God? You’re in a terrible state! Forget about God!

We know what David feels like, don’t we?

Perhaps we feel that way even while we are sitting here in Church!?


What will David do in his misery???

We always feel we have to do something, don’t we?

David, it turns out, does what we often too do.

Often, when we feel lost and lonely, when the present is more than we can bear, where do we go?

          We go into our past.

We go looking for that memory that reminds us of better times;

We go back and remind ourselves that there have been times that God

has been  close to us – and they were very good days.

          “These things I remember,” says David…

          “…how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to   the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving amomg the   festive throng.”

David tries to find some relief from his poor state, in his memories of the past, but this time, this avenue will offer him no easy way out –

worthy as the exercise may have been at other times for him…

          and for you and I…

this time it does not work.

It is good to remember God’s goodness in our times of depression.

It is a sign of sure faith. Often it will help us, strengthen us…but sometimes it may not….

for David, this is one of those times…

And as he struggles to try and understand…

          his search for God’s love, must continue…

And it does, we see in the Psalm…it as if he wants to say,

          Well, I have exhausted this avenue.

My help is not in my memories of better days,

          and he sits down, and he does not understand why…        

          Verse“5 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 6 my God.”

David is no less thirsty, and his search for relief, must continue…


Where to now?

With the refrain of verse 5 still in his head,

he goes forward, trying to make sense of his state of mind, his depression, his loneliness..

When David’s memories of happy times in the Lord’s temple offers him no relief, he becomes more concrete in his thinking.

          In the next phase of David’s strategy to find a way of feeling in God’s      care again, he reminds himself of a physical experience.

He recalls a time when he was at Mt Hermon, in the mountains with its waterfalls…

Modern day Psychologists and councilors, will often suggest that in your darkest moments, you go to a happy place in your mind…

          That place me be a favourite park bench, overlooking the ocean…or       deep in the forest, or the desert…

It almost looks like David tries this next…and let it be said, it is a worthy exercise

David now transforms his thoughts to a time that he was present at those waterfalls, at Mt Hermon…And this is how he remebers it…

Verse 7: My soul is downcast within me;

therefore I will remember you

from the land of the Jordan,

the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.

7 Deep calls to deep

in the roar of your waterfalls;

“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls…”

One commentator offers this explanation:

As David sinks deeper and deeper into his abyss of depression, he is aware that no matter how deep he sinks, God will be able to rescue him, for God is deeper than the deepest depths; so in his despair he is calling out to God, figuratively, like the sound of the waters of a waterfall tumbling down into the depths, calling out to each other for help as they fall ever downwards.

Looking at it from another angle…deep from within God, He calls out to us in our depths of despair…

At this point, this is what David clings to now…

          But still there is no relief for his anguish.

He feels no better than he did at the beginning of the Psalm, still he thirsts for God, like a deer pants for water…

          And again he repeats the refrain, the words that he clings to like a person drowning will cling to a rock …

          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 6 my God.”

David is still searching for an answer from God

But he still has not found it …

In verse 9, it is becoming near hopeless.

          “I say to God my Rock…why have you forgotten me?

          Why must I go about, oppressed by the enemy?”

Still his scoffers mock him…where is your God, they say…

David now feels at close to his worse…

He is rejected by God, or so he feels,

and he is betrayed by men…

And then the relief, like the rain clouds gathering on the horizon would surely offer those farmers in the drought stricken areas of our illustration. Or like Dirki’es father running towards him with a water bottle…

Now, suddenly, David comes to realise where his help will be coming from, where his restored peace will come from.

Slowly, even painfully, David has moved to this point – but now he realises…

At the very point where he feels he cannot go on… he stops…

          And it dawns on him:


Verse 3: “Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me…”

When I was preparing this sermon, I asked myself where else these words were prominent.

Where do we find a clear reference to what is referred to here in Psalm 42, elsewhere in the Bible …

And then I found quite a few…

          but John chapter one brings these words into glorious perspective in      verses 1-4:


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Verse 4 In Him was life, and that life was the light of men…

Here in Psalm 43, before this point, David has not found peace in his memories, even though some of them are good memories

and even though he has before found peace in them, as we sometimes do…

He has not found hope in recalling God’s serenity as we find it in nature

What will guide him to ultimate peace, restored hope, to a vision of the everlasting future in the presence of the Lord, no less?

It is God’s light and God’s truth…and this light and this truth has been the light of men from the beginning! – This is in who we should trust!

Do you hear the echo in your mind…

          “And the word was with God…and the Word was God!”

Now the words just flow from David’s pen…

Verse4 Then will I go to the altar of God,

to God, my joy and my delight.

I will praise you with the harp,

O God, my God.”


This time, when David concludes this… third movement …we may say, in this poem, he again does so as he has concluded each of the previous two movements – he ends it with the refrain.

But now his refrain finds him no longer in a state of confoundedeness,

          in a feeling of despair, in search of an absent God…

Now his refrain becomes a song of celebration, and of hope…everlasting hope.

Brothers and sisters, when next you have a day, or a week, or a moment when you feel all alone.

When next you feel you just cannot go on, when you thirst for God almost to the point of desperation – when you cry out:

 “5 Why are you downcast, O my soul?

Why so disturbed within me?

Quench your thirst on this truth…David…

“Put your hope in God, ….

          for I will yet praise him,

                   my Savior and 6 my God.”

There! That is where we find peace. There is the fountain where we may quench our thirst…

“Put your hope in God, ….

          for I will yet praise him,

                   my Savior and 6 my God.”


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