Spiritual Depression
Psalm 42:1-11
As the hart pants after the water brooks, so pants my soul after you, O God.…

The scene of this psalm seems to have been on the other side of Jordan, near the shining heights of Hermon. Here we may imagine the writer, probably a Hebrew exile, straining his eyes to catch a glimpse of the dear laud of his fathers that was soon to pass from his sight. To him it seemed as if to be separated from Jerusalem was to be separated from God; as if losing the fellowship of the saints were losing God. The hart panting for the water-brooks imaged the grief of his heart athirst after God. The Jordan with its winding rapids, "deep calling unto deep," reflected the tumults of his soul, and reminded him of his distance from home and from the house of God. But he encourages himself by meditation and prayer, and the hope of better times. We may take the psalm as a picture of spiritual depression.

I. THE GODLY MAN CAST DOWN. His trouble does not arise from outward causes; it is within, it is from the absence of God. There were still faith, affection, the going forth of his whole being toward God in love and desire; but there seemed to be no response. Like the hart, hard pressed by the hunters, "the big tears rolling from his eyes, and the moisture standing black upon his side," and panting for the water-brooks, his soul thirsted, but thirsted in vain, for God. His sorrows were increased by the taunts of scoffers and the remembrance of happier times (vers. 3, 4). Repulsed on all sides and lonely, and feeling as if God had forsaken him, he is in sore trouble, and his own heart sadly echoes the cry of his enemies, "Where is now thy God?" Such experiences are not uncommon. We all know what it is to "thirst;" but what do we thirst after? Is it gain, or pleasure, or worldly honours, or such-like? If so, our thirst will not be satisfied. But if we have been quickened by the Spirit, we cannot but thirst after God. He and he alone can supply our need and satisfy our hearts. And if we "thirst for God," let us remember that this implies far more than longing for outward ordinances and joys which for a season we have lost. We are persons, and want a personal God. We are living souls, and crave a living God. We love truth and justice and goodness, and therefore we cry after the eternal God, in whom all truth and justice and goodness dwell. There will come to us, as to others, times of trial, days of darkness, when God seems afar off and silent. But let us not be cast down with overmuch sorrow. "The feeling of forsakenness is no proof of being forsaken. Mourning an absent God is an evidence of love as strong as rejoicing in a present one." With God, for us to desire is to have; and to hunger and thirst is to be filled.

II. THE GODLY MAN COMFORTED. "Why?" This question is first of all addressed to the soul. There is self-interrogation. This is good. When we ask, "Why?" this sets us to inquire as to the reason of things. Light will arise. We may see that the cause of depression is not in God, but in ourselves. For us to abide in this state is unreasonable, contrary to our past experiences, and inconsistent with God's mercy and truth. We can therefore call upon ourselves to cast out fear, and still to hope in God as our God and our Redeemer. But though something has been gained in this way, it is not enough. Old foes rise up, and beat down the soul into the deep waters, where the tumult drowns the voice of mercy, and the billows rising higher and higher threaten us with total engulfment. The cry now takes a nobler form. It is not to the soul, but to God (ver. 6). Mark that there is hope. This points to coming good. Further, it is hope in God. This gives rest. Our own feelings vary. We cannot get comfort from them. Neither can we rely upon past experiences. We may deceive ourselves. Nor can we of ourselves change the circumstances which cause us pain. But the living God is a sure Refuge. He cannot change. He is more stable than the everlasting hills. This hope in God also opens up to us a way from the darkness into the bright future. "I shall yet praise him." At last it rises to full assurance, and the joy of inviolable and everlasting possession, "My God." - W.F.

Parallel Verses
KJV: {To the chief Musician, Maschil, for the sons of Korah.} As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

WEB: As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants after you, God.

Remonstrance of the Spiritual Man Against the Natural Man
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