This in one of my favorite Psalms. I love the honesty, the roller coaster of emotion , the depths and the heights. Many is the day when I have to instruct myself more than once to “bless the Lord, O my soul!”
S) 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 42:11 ESV)
H) The Psalm is attributed to the Sons of Korah. Who was Korah? A great gandson of Levi, we read about him being put to death for his rebellion against Yahweh (Num. 16). His boys escaped the judgment (Num. 16:11) and later became doorkeepers and then leaders of worship in the sanctuary of God. It contains one of the most beloved (and most sung) passages of Scripture:
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. (Ps 42:1 ESV)
This Psalm and Psalm 43 were separated but likely make up one song. Throughout the Psalm there is great distress. The singer is weeping, crying out for help, taunted and oppressed by adversaries. He wonders when he will ever be able to once again lead the throngs of worshipers into God’s house. Repeatedly, rather than let despair overtake him, he instructs his soul to bless the Lord. (Twice in this psalm, v.5, 11 and once in the companion Psalm 43:5)
A) As John Piper has remarked, “Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. Switchback after switchback.” Saints will always experience great heights of joy but, just as certain, great depths of suffering. I am so grateful that God knows our frame. He knows that we are but dust and He holds in His heart a Father’s pity for our weaknesses and our often faithless responses to trials. The psalmist is reminding himself of God’s faithfulness and everlasting promises. So often I have had to do this. My dark nights of the soul have not been as tortuous as many others have been but they are still mine and they are real. Thankfully, the Spirit has comforted me and prompted me again and again to count on the promises of the Father. I love this verse and chorus of a song we are singing in church:
When I fear my faith will fail,
Christ will hold me fast;
when the tempter would prevail,
He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path;
for my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.
He will hold me fast,
He will hold me fast;
for my Savior loves me so,
He will hold me fast.
P) Father, I pray that I would know ever more deeply your keeping power in my life. You can surely be trusted and my heart is safe in your hands. In Jesus name, Amen.
E) He will hold you fast!
The Psalms of the Day for 10/12 are: 12, 42, 72, 102, 132
Reading the Psalms of the Day is a very helpful way to energize and broaden your prayers. You can learn more about praying the psalms here. You can download a chart of the daily readings here. Learn about the S.H.A.P.E. Method of engaging with scripture here.