As the Deer Pants for the Water
November 18-19, 2023
I think most of your Bibles will show that Book Two starts with Psalm 42. The Psalms are divided into five books. Not sure exactly how or when that got to be divided that way. From the earliest manuscripts, we have these five divisions. Book One that we just finished was almost entirely written by David. Book Two that we now begin is 31 of the Psalms, 18 or so were written by David.
This one, Psalm 42, it's easy to become confused in regards to the author of Psalm 42 because the introduction says, "For the choir director, a Maskil of the Sons of Korah." Now, many people believe, therefore it was written by the Sons of Korah. I submit that the book was written, or the song was written by David and then given to the Sons of Korah, who were the choir masters, the chief musicians in David's court. They were the masters of music and of choir, very, very gifted.
I mentioned before, and Barry's repeating that David, of course, was a great musician himself, loved worship, loved music, and he had a massive choir and orchestra, you might say, all full-time. Can you imagine full-time musician's, full-time choir? How good would they be if that's all that they did five days a week? No, five days. That's the American thing. Six days a week. All week long, they've just worshiped, practiced the harmonies, perfected the tone, and all that.
I would've loved to have been there. Just imagine how glorious, and that was David's heart. "God is a worthy of great honor. We want our worship to be lifted to the heavens and glory." That was the Sons of Korah. Now, the context of the Psalms, as we're going to see, fits exactly with one of David's greatest and deepest troubles, again, as we will read into the context going through it.
I want us to look at the Sons of Korah because they are very interesting. They are descendants, of course, of Korah. Korah was one of the greatest troublers of Israel in all of their history. He was the greatest troubler when they were in the desert. Yet they themselves, the Sons of Korah are the very opposite of trouble. They were the masters of worship, as I said in the courts of the king. Their heart was to create the most beautiful glorious God-honoring worship that people would rejoice in the house of the Lord.
What happened? What an amazing turnabout. That turnabout is a great lesson all in itself. All right. Their ancient father Korah, he and the family were Koa fights, Levites. They had the honor and the responsibility of carrying on their shoulders the most holy of artifacts in the Tabernacle. The arc of the covenant itself would be born on their shoulders. What an honor is this? Now, they could not see it because it was covered, of course, but what, in honor to carry the arc, the very presence of God upon their shoulders.
No, that honor was not enough for Korah and those who conspired with him. No, he wanted the highest place. He wanted to overthrow Moses himself. Right away we go, "Whoa. What?" Exactly, he wanted to overthrow Moses and Aaron. "You have gone far enough. All the people are holy. what makes you think that you stand above all the others?" Because they have been calling. We want to elect someone to bring us back to Egypt. "Don't you remember the good old days when we were in Egypt?"
He led a rebellion and it almost worked. In fact, so much so that if they had voted, Moses would've been voted out. He swayed so many people over to his side that Moses and Aaron would've been voted out. If Korah was voted in as the leader, he would've marched them right back to Egypt, right back to oppression and slavery. Moses went before the Lord and then gathered all the people together, a great assembly, and declared that everyone should pull back from the tents of Korah and the other conspirators. When they pulled back, of course, the ground opened and Korah and the others were consumed.
Now, we read many generations later, here are the Sons of Korah serving in the house of the Lord, becoming some of the greatest leaders of worship, great musicians, choir leaders, writers of songs and hymns that lead people into revival. What an amazing turn. Could it be grace? Could it be that they were so thankful that God extended such mercy by keeping their family in that place of honor in the house of God, that they were so thankful to that, that they spent the rest of the generations honoring God in the highest way?
See, I believe this is a great lesson, a great life lesson itself, and that it does not matter what attitude or bearing that you inherited from your father. God can start afresh and anew in your generation. You do not have to repeat whatever attitude or bearing that you received from your father, no matter what it was. I give you my own testimony because many of you know my story. My father was an alcoholic and angry and contentious and difficult. I'll tell you what, I remember calling out to God saying, "God, let this thing end and let it end with me," and God has honored his word.
We do not have to repeat the sins of our fathers. We can be set free when God is our Father. Amen? Let's give the Lord praise for that. Amen. In fact, the Sons of Korah wrote some of the most beautiful God-honoring Psalms. For example, Psalm 84:10, "One day in your courts is better than a thousand days elsewhere. I would rather stand at the threshold of the doorway of the house of my God than dwell in the tense of wickedness." That is a beautiful, beautiful word right there. "One day in your courts is better than a thousand days anywhere else. I would rather stand in the doorway of the house of God than in the tens of wickedness." That is so beautiful.
Here we are, Psalm 42. Let's read it starting in Verse 1. "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants on lungs for You, oh God. My soul thirsts for you, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night while they say to me all day long, 'Where's your God now.'"
See David, again, we're going to look at this. David was king at this point, and he had to flee Jerusalem from his own son who had conspired against him, so David fled Jerusalem and was dwelling on the other side of the Jordan longing to be in the presence of God in the house of the Lord. He says, "Oh, tears are my food day and night. While they say to me all day long, 'Where's your God now? Where's the help of God now, David?'"
They accuse, and then he says, "These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God. With the voice of joy in Thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival. Oh, I long again my soul longs for the glory again." Then Verse 5 is so interesting. He says, "Why are you in sow despair? Oh, my soul, why have you become so disturbed within me? Hope in God, man, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence."
"Oh, my God, my soul is in despair within me. Therefore, I remember you from the land of the Jordan and the peaks of Hermon from Mount Mizar." I love Verse 7, "Oh, what a beautiful poetic image He gives us." In Verse 7, "Deep calls to deep. At the sound of your waterfalls, oh, Your breakers and waves have rolled over me." "The Lord will command His loving kindness in the daytime and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life." That is beautiful.
I will say to God my rock, "Why have you forgotten me?" In other words, God, I wait and I wait and I wait. Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of my enemy? As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile while they say to me all day long, "Where's your God now?" He says again, repeats, "Why are you in despair, oh, my soul? Why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God." What a beautiful Psalm is this.
I. Deep Calls to Deep
I want us to go back, of course, and look at some ways that God would apply these wonderful words to our lives. Starting in verse 7. I love that beautiful poetic image he gives us, that deep calls to deep at the sound of your waterfalls. I tell you, this is a really wonderful image. It is revival itself. What he means is that the deep things of the Lord are calling to the deep things of my soul, the depths of my soul. The deep things of God. Deep is calling to deep. David is pointing out his soul to God. Longing to being near to God again in the house of the Lord.
Now this is something to take hold now for us as well. It truly is a deep spiritual picture that the deep things of the Lord are calling to the deepest desire of the soul. Now, as I mentioned, words of the Psalm seemed directly connected to the time of greatest trouble when his son Absalom conspired against him. Now, the backstory is very helpful to understand the Psalm. That was that David was in his life doing very well really, until he's made tragic choices that brought epic consequences. All of that culminating in David fleeing Jerusalem from his son Absalom. Darkest hour of David's life.
What had happened was David had sinned terribly. We know the story of Bathsheba. David sinned terribly there. At first, he tried to hide it within himself, but that did not go well because the hand of the Lord was heavy on him. The conviction upon his soul was agony within. Finally, God sent the prophet Nathan to confront him. "You are the man," Nathan said.
Then how David responded to that is a great lesson. He fully then trusted that God would forgive and would rescue and save. Notice, for example, Psalm 32:5-7. David wrote, "I acknowledged my sin to You. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord, and you forgave the guilt of my sin.'" This is something that we are so very, very thankful for that God's grace and God's mercy is extended in the forgiveness of sin. How amazing is that?
The forgiveness of sin that was bought and paid for by the blood of His own son that day when Jesus died on the cross. It is that provision of forgiveness for which we are very, very thankful. Then David says, "You are my hiding place." David is the one who acknowledges, "I did it. I was the one who did it, but God, I hide myself in thee. You preserve me from trouble and You surround me with songs of deliverance."
All right. Now, David's failure there, it began to then be seen in his family, and that is often, of course, the case. His son Amnon raped his half-sister, Tamar. David, paralyzed by his own sin, took no action. Finally, Tamar's brother, Absalom, took matters into his own hands. Arranged for Amnon's death. Then Absalom himself had to flee the country, banished for three years, while again, David took no action.
Finally, David extended mercy to Absalom and brought him back to Jerusalem but would not see him, refused to see him. For two more years, bitterness is building up in Absalom's heart because David would not see him. Finally, Absalom pleaded to see David's face, David relented. When David saw his son, Absalom, it was a moving scene, David wept. He's weeping over his son now, kisses his son.
You might say it was too little too late because Absalom had already been brewing bitterness in his heart and a conspiracy was hatching in his mind. What he did, to win the people over, he wanted to give the impression that he was a great warrior. He had 50 men running in front of his chariot. Wherever he goes about the city, he's got 50 men running in front of the horses and his chariot.
He's done the regalia. Trying to give the impression that he was a great warrior when he had not fought a day in his life, but he wanted to give the look of the thing. He did have the look of the thing. We understand reading the scripture that he was tall and handsome. If you're going to do a conspiracy, it helps that you're handsome. He had hair. This is part of the story, he did a long, flowing, really beautiful hair. It's like, hair. It really looked beautiful.
The women, oh, woo-hoo. The guys are like, "Oh, here's a man." That was the impression he gave. Here's a man. He's a leader. Then he would stand to win the people over. He would stand by the gate when people are coming in. "Oh, come here my friend. I'm the king's son. You have something to say? I have ears to hear. What concern may I bring?" "Oh, Absalom, he cares. He's very concerned for all of us. He listens."
Little by little he started to win the people over. Then he set up headquarters in Hebron, which is just the south there in the hills. That's when David got wind. That's when David heard just how deep this conspiracy was. When David heard how deep it was, he realized that he had to flee Jerusalem in order to spare the city from the calamity of war because Absalom was determined to bring an army down to bear on Jerusalem, and David would not have it, not in his beloved city. Jerusalem must be spared.
A. The soul was made for God
David fled Jerusalem, crossed over to Jordan. It was from there he wrote this Psalm longing to return to the nearness of God in the house of God. Deep is calling to deep. That's what we see. Notice, for example, in Verse 1, we see that the soul was made for God. The deep things are calling to the deep places of my soul because the soul was made for God. Verse 1, "As the deer pants for the water so my soul longs for you." See, deer can smell water. We cannot smell water. They can smell water in the air for a long way off. They turn toward it and long forward. They could be in a dry and weary land, but water far off, they can smell it.
What a picture, he says, of my soul. Now, you might recognize the words of that because one of the most beautiful worship songs on the church has come out of that verse. "As the deer panteth for the waters, so my soul longeth after thee." Beautiful, beautiful. Your heart just wants to resound in the words of it. Reminds me of what David wrote in Psalm 63. Also, he says, "Oh God, you are my God and I seek You earnestly. My soul thirsts for You. My flesh yearns for You in a dry and weary land where there is no water."
In many ways, I submit that that describes our times today. We are living in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Our nation is in deep trouble. Turning our back on the Lord. People mock the things of God. Today, we are in deep trouble as a nation, and we are living in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
David then says, "Your loving kindness is better than life." That's the water. That's the soul satisfied. It's your loving kindness, for my lips will praise you. You have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings, I sing for joy. Notice Verse 4 where he says, "My soul longs. I remember. Oh, I remember. My soul is poured out within me. Oh. To lead the multitude in celebration. Oh, glorious days. I long for it again."
See, here's what he's telling us, that once you've tasted and seen that the Lord is good, once you've tasted that the glory of God is beautiful on the soul, once you've been filled with the joy of the Lord, peace that passes understanding, then the deep things of God will always call to the deep places, the depth of your soul to long for it. Again, my soul longs like a deer pants for water. My soul longs for you.
Deep is calling to deep, but then would you notice what follows next in Verse 5? Speak life to your own soul. Notice Verse 5 where he says, “Why are you in despair, oh my soul? Why have you become disturbed within me?” Hope in God, man, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence. My question to you is this, who is David speaking to there? “Why are you in despair? Oh, my soul?” Who is he speaking to? He's speaking to himself. He's speaking to his own soul.
B. Speak life to your own soul
Question, how many people talk to themselves? Do you talk to yourself? How many people talk to themselves? I read, see, I'm glad I'm not the only one who talks to themselves. I read that people who talk to themselves, it's a sign of intelligence. I'm pretty sure it's true. Pretty sure it's true. I mean, after sometimes you just need an expert opinion. Forget I said that. That didn't sound right. That didn't sound right at all. Forget that, but it's true.
Here's the fact. Everyone talks to themselves. Every single person talks to themselves. The question then is, what do you say to yourself, because this soul now sets the standard for how to speak life to your soul? The reason I say that is because there are many who defeat themselves because they speak out of a lack of faith to themselves. They just dwell in that weakness or that failure or whatever it was. They just dwell in it.
Have you ever done something really dumb and then just say to yourself, “That was really dumb.” Then you just revel in like, “I can't believe I would do--“ and you just revel in the failure. Many do. They're defeated because they speak out of a lack of faith, and their lack of faith informs what they say to themselves. Here, the Psalm, Dave gives us the standard for how to speak life to your soul. Your soul is in despair. Your soul is downcast.
Then speak life. Speak faith within your own heart. Speak faith to life. Remind yourself again of the great truths of who God is toward you. Speak life. Remind yourself again. Stand on the great truths and speak to your soul. You’re downcast? Why so downcast? Hope in God now.
Notice, for example, Proverbs, I should say Proverbs 23:7, “For as a man thinks in his heart, so he is.” That is a great truth. As a man thinks, as a person thinks, so you will be. You think defeated, you will be defeated. You speak faith, you speak life, you speak hope, you'll stand on that hope. Proverbs 4:23. “Watch over your heart with all diligence.” Watch over your heart. “For from it flow the springs of life.” See, here's what I'm trying to say. When the attitude of the heart is wrong, nothing good can come out of that.
When the attitude is defeated and wrong, nothing good can come out of it. We must learn to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. That's what Paul wrote to us. We must learn to take every thought captured through the obedience of Christ. In other words, we must understand how to convert despair within. We must learn how to convert the despair, the downcast by drinking from the water of life abiding within the soul.
I submit that there is a well. If you've received the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior, that God has taken resonance in the soul by the Holy Spirit, and it is a well of water springing up to life that you might drink from it abundantly.
I want to repeat some of the verses I mentioned last week because they're so appropriate to where we are today. Notice for example, in John 4, again, Jesus is speaking to that Samaritan woman at the well, and He says to her, in verses 13 and 14. Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water,” the water from that well, “will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give will never thirst, for the water that I give will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
For example, Psalm 36, oh, how beautiful are these verse is? Psalm 36:8-9, “They drink their fill of the abundance of your house, and you give them to drink of the river of your delights, for with you is the fountain of life and in your light we see light.” David understands giving us here that great lesson of how to speak to the soul that's downcast or in despair, speaking life.
There's another example of this by the way that we see powerfully in David's life. This is quite a bit prior, back before David was king, and the story unfolds in that David and his men were out and about, and when they came back that evening to the village, they came back to discover that the Amalekites had raided the village. Again, this is David's village. They were out and about. They come up back and they discovered the Amalekites have raided and burned the village and taken the women and children hostage. David became very distressed because the men blamed David for this and even spoke of stoning David. Again, here now we see a great lesson of life unfold.
1 Samuel 30:6 is that great story. It says, “Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him for all the people were embittered, each because of his sons and his daughters.” David, you see, here's where David now, now we learned a great lesson from a great leader. David is distressed. I mean, this is a very, very dark moment, even as though men are speaking against him. David is embittered, excuse me, distressed rather, because the men are embittered. What does David do? David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. How did David do that?
I believe what we see in the story is that David went and dwelled just him and God. David need to get it alone with God, just him and God, just calling out to God. “God, strengthen me now. Be my help. God, show me your help. Show me your power. Show me your strength. God strengthen my soul within me. Oh God, be my help now.” Then David and God just did this business, and then David came back before these men like a roaring lion.
David now stands up like the leader and captain that we've respected him to be. He stands before the men. First, he calls the priest and says, “Seek this question from the Lord. Shall we pursue?” The priest comes back and says, “Yes, the Lord says, 'Pursue and you shall surely overtake.'” David spin before his men and said, “Then, get on your horses. We are going to pursue them. You're too tired, stay behind. I'm going, let's go.” David is like the bold lion now. Why? Because he went and strengthened himself, just him and God. I'll tell you, this is a great lesson.
I know it's true because I have seen this and experiences with my own life. I have been through many, many distresses and many difficulties, and I know that if I can just get alone with God, I just need to get alone with God. If I can just get alone with God, God and I can do this. I know that I can call out to my God. I know my God and I know what He can do to my soul, and He will speak life to me. I just need to get alone with God.
Then when I have done that with God, then I'll come back like a roaring lion. Then I know that God is with me. Then I know that God will show me the way to lead through this trouble. I know my God. I know he'll do it and He'll do it for you. Amen. Amen. Amen.
II. His Song Will be with You
We see that in the rest of that psalm. I love Verse 8 where he is showing us that his song will be with you. Notice Verse 8, "The Lord will command His loving kindness in the daytime." Notice, now again, David is speaking life to his soul. "I know this, the Lord will command His loving kindness in the daytime, and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life." That is beautiful.
There's two parts to that verse, both are so beautiful. Deep is calling to deep. David is reminding his soul that Jehovah will command His loving kindness. In other words, His favor, His help, His hand to save. David's confidence is in the loving kindness of God, and that David believes that God will command the loving kindness in His favor toward David. Then he adds that beautiful phrase, "His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life."
This is, again, may the soul sing. This is understanding that God will minister to your soul. God will minister to your soul. There's that strengthening of that soul within, "His song will be with me in the night. It is a prayer to the God of my life." Now, the darkness of night there is a picture of the dark hour of the soul going through some great trouble. "Your song," David understood this very deeply, "Your song will be with me in the night. I'll sing it as a prayer to the God of my life." God ministering to you, strengthening your soul to trust Him, to look, to watch. Help is on the way.
A. May the soul sing a song of prayer
Reminds me of Psalm 63 where David wrote this in Verses 6-8, "I think of You through the watches of the night because You are my help. I sing in the shadow of Your wings. My soul clings to You and Your right hand upholds me." See, when I think of that verse, "Your song will be with me in the night, ministering help to the soul, a prayer to the God of my life," I think of other examples in the scriptures.
A great example, there's Paul and Silas in the Book of Acts. They're on a missionary journey. They were in Philippi, they were arrested, of course, for the gospel, beaten it says with rods as thick as a man's finger, and then thrown into this inner prison. In other words, the darkest, deepest place of the prison. Then it tells us, Acts 16:25-26, that about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying, singing hymns of praise to God. Other prisoners were listening to them.
Can you imagine, suddenly there came a great earthquake so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and immediately all the doors were open. Everyone chains were unfastened, Paul and Silas would not leave, by the way. I wonder about that scene. What did they sing? What song is this that they've been beaten with rods, thrown, now they're in the darkest inner prison, they're sitting on the cold stone in the dark, and they sing?
"Your song will be with me in the night. Prayer to the God my life." What did they sing? I imagine that scene unfolding something like this. Paul says, "Are you okay Silas? "I hurt." "I know, I know. Me too. I like to sing. I want us to sing that hymn." "Yes, let's sing." Maybe they sing that song that Jeremiah the prophet wrote in the darkest hour of Israel's history that we have captured in a great hymn.
Great is thy faithfulness
Oh God, my Father
There is no shadow of turning with me
Now, change is not thy compassions
They feel not as thou has been forever will be.
Jeremiah wrote that, Lamentation 3:21-24, in the darkest hour of Israel's history where he says, "This I recall to my mind?" Does that remind you of song? "Oh, I remember you. This I recall to my mind. Therefore, I have hope." See, I recall it to my mind. It's like David is speaking life to his soul. I'm reminded again, therefore, I have hope that the Lord's loving kindnesses indeed never cease, that His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning
New every morning
Great is your faithfulness
The Lord is my portion declares my soul
Therefore, I have hope.
When the jailer saw their heart, their character, their faith, he cried out, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" The Holy Spirit was just pouring life. In fact, we believe that that jailer became one of the great leaders of that church in Philippi. Would you notice, and I want us to look at Psalm 43, I want to close with this. Psalm 43, many believe by the way, is an extension of 42 because it's so identical to it. It just continues it. The lesson of it is this, that God will lead you to His holy hill.
B. God will lead you to His holy hill
Notice Psalm 43:3-4, "Oh, send out your light and send your truth and let them lead me. Let them bring me to your holy hill. Then I will go to the altar of God to God my exceeding joy." See, David finishes both Psalm 42 and 43 as he began by speaking life to the soul. "Why are you in despair, oh my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God for I shall praise Him the help of my countenance and my God. Oh, lead me to your holy hill. Lead me to your glory."
I love that verse in the Hebrews where it says, he will lead many sons to glory because deep is calling the deep. The deepest things of God are calling to the deepest aspect of your soul. Only God can fill that. "As the deer pants for the water so my soul longs for you God." It's what God does in the soul that matters. Deep is calling the deep. Let your soul arise because deep is calling to the depths of your soul. Oh, along there's something that so longs for the courts of the Lord. Lead me to Your holy hill. Lead many sons to glory because deep is calling to deep.
Let's pray. Lord, we are so thankful. Oh, how beautiful are the words, the song has captured that deep is calling to deep, that the soul longs, desires like a deer panting for water. My soul longs for you, oh God, for deep is calling to deep. Church, how many would say that to the Lord today? God, my soul is longing. There is a deep desire in my soul. Lead me to your holy hill, lead me to your glory, for deep is calling to deep. My soul, deep within me, longs, desires like a deer panting for water. I have a deep, deep desire in my soul for glory, for God in my life.
Is that you? Would you just raise your hand to the Lord in that declaration of desire? Deep is calling to deep. God, my soul is stirred. I long like a deer panting for water. I long for you. Oh, the depths of my soul long. Lord, thank you for everyone raising their hand or lifting their soul, crying out to you in that deepest desire of the soul. We give you honor. We give you praise for it all in Jesus' name, and everyone said, Amen. Let's give the Lord praise and glory and honor. Amen. Amen.