From Brian Patton
Psalm 42, 43
The two Psalms are a lament broken into three parts, each concluded with a thread of hope:
Why are you downcast, my soul - and at turmoil within me?
Wait for God, for I shall again praise him, my savior and my God.
We get a lot of little nibbles for thought in these Psalms - the deer, the psalmist’s reflections on past worship and present troubles, and calling on God to intervene...
The deer panting for the water (from which we have a beautiful hymn), perhaps thirsty on a hot day or after a long run. The refreshment of digging into the Word and resting in Him. Do you seek Him with such urgency? Do you find such rest in the Word?
Reflections on what the psalmist experienced in the past but hasn’t experienced lately - a multitude keeping festival. Perhaps a memory of the moment the ark returned to Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 6:12-15? Or a recollection of the appointed feasts while the psalmist dwells far from Jerusalem? Hope for the future from the memories of the past. When was a time you felt truly engaged in worship? Remember that in a time of struggle.
Memories of that Jerusalem worship while in Jordan & Hermon.
Today: Wedged between Lebanon and Syria not far from the Golan Heights.
Then: Near the northern extent of Israel, perhaps in Aramean territory.
Today: A few hours drive from Jerusalem (~120 miles, not currently a geopolitically feasible roadtrip).
Then: A much longer journey in a chariot or a marching army.
The modern equivalent might be a New Yorker bored by the suburban quiet of metrowest, who while visiting, gets a call about being laid off and receives a diagnosis with a chronic disease. All these waves of heavy waters keep falling on my head. But I keep my mind on God’s omnipotence… Even as I begin to doubt and hear enemies taunting “Where is your God?” Vacillating in and out of hope, I finally land on hope - and wait on God. His timing is best.
Finally in Psalm 43 we get a bit of a lift. Calling on God to execute justice, to relieve the refugee. Calling for guidance. No need for despair, my soul - hope in God! God will ultimately come through and prevail with justice, grace and mercy through Christ.
Jesus thins the large crowds that are following him with some difficult words: you must be willing to let go of everything, even the people and possessions dearest to you, in order to take up your cross (burden) and follow me. You’re all here listening -- but have you really counted the cost of action? Jesus doesn’t want idle/passive followers, but rather passionate ones. Are you paying the price of following Him? Have you been called to sacrifice something today?
I am the husband of Jessica Patton, father of Ayelet & Oliver. Born in Vancouver, WA. Attended BU and met Jessica there. Lived in Seattle, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, London, Boston. Enjoy traveling. Work at Google.