Psalm 42 - A Thirsty Soul

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon —from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
By day the LORD directs his love,
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 must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

In this Psalm, David sings of a deep longing for God, using the metaphor of a deer panting for water in a dry and barren land. David’s thirst for God is not simply a physical thirst, but a spiritual thirst that goes to the very depths of his soul. Our thirst for God should mirror David’s. 

This idea of spiritual thirst is echoed in the New Testament, where Jesus speaks of the living water that satisfies our deepest longings. Meeting a woman by a well one day, Jesus told her that the water she drank would only leave her thirsty again, but the water he gave her would become in her a spring of water leading to eternal life (John 4:13-14).

Jesus was referring to the spiritual thirst that all people have, which cannot be satisfied by physical water or earthly things. He was offering the woman eternal life through faith in him, which would quench her spiritual thirst and provide a source of living water within her that would never run dry. So, what is this “living water”? It is the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said, "Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them." By this he meant the (Holy) Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive (John 7:38). The Holy Spirit satisfies the spiritual thirst of believers and empowers them to live a life that is pleasing to God. The Holy Spirit also brings new life, refreshment, and joy to the hearts of believers, just as water brings life, refreshment, and joy to the body.

And how do we receive the Holy Spirit? In his first sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter said, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). 

A final question remains. How do we drink of the Holy Spirit? One practical way is to cultivate intimacy with God. Just as physical thirst can be satisfied by drinking water, spiritual thirst can be satisfied by spending time in prayer, reading scripture, and engaging in other spiritual practices. By intentionally setting aside time to nurture our relationship with God, we can find the spiritual refreshment and renewal that our souls long for.

If you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as your savior, do it now. Repent and be baptized. And if you have accepted Christ as your savior, drink deep from the living water!

God bless you.