Tag Archive: Psalm 42


Fifth Sunday in Lent

So far on my Lenten journey, I’ve managed to memorize Psalms 51, 121, and 42, and I’ve read Psalm 46. This past week I worked through Psalm 42, which has been a great exercise for me.

First of all, as I mentioned last week, I love the image of thirsting after God. This longing to spend more time with God has been really present this busy and hectic semester. I’ve truly appreciated the opportunity to sit quietly in contemplative prayer. There, quietly gathered together to focus on God, I’ve been blessed to listen to God and also to have some deeply meaningful reflections with members of the seminary community.

Second, in reflecting on life and situations I’ve been a part of or even witnessed (Haiti and Japan, for example), I have seen suffering. Unfortunately, it is all too often a part of life. Thinking about these times, I’ve come to appreciate this psalm’s questions and honest frustration: “I say to God, my rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?’” The psalmist is freely about to express himself, but he also maintains his faith in God – the God who is the God of his life, his rock, and his help.

In spite of frustrations, pain and suffering, the psalmist is still able to praise God because he remembers God’s goodness and faithfulness. Now this is raw and unapologetic wrestling with the difficult questions of life – naming the problem, the hurt and the pain and asking God point-blank, “where are you?” I think we often feel like we cannot wrestle with God like this – that we cannot ask questions of God or call God to task, but the psalms invite us to pray deeply and honestly, voicing our concerns and airing our frustrations so we can once again praise God. I think we would be wise to learn from these ancient prayers.

In response to this psalm, I would like to tackle Psalm 145, but I am hesitant to do so since it is so full of praise. I think I should like to dwell a bit longer in the penitential and contemplative mood of Lent before springing into Easter joy – at least as far as my psalm choices are concerned! So, instead, I will work on 130, which has long been a favorite:

Psalm 130:
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD.
2 Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.
8 It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.

It’s also quite appropriate since I’ve been thinking a lot about being made righteous through the cross of Christ and God’s grace – not through my own actions. Stay tuned to see what I learn from Psalm 130! Peace!

© 2011. Annabelle Peake. All rights reserved.

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Fourth Sunday in Lent

Another week down – that’s crazy! I have no idea where the time is going. All I know is that this week, Psalm 46 did not get memorized. I selected it because we had looked at it last Friday in my Psalter class, finding that the Hebrew in 46:10 (“Be still and know that I am God!”) is actually closer to “Let go and know that I am God!” “Let go.” Wow. That blew my mind. It has the connotation of letting go of a rope or unclenching one’s fist (as in a war).

This “letting go” also came up later when I was in contemplative prayer and meditating on what I felt called to work on in my relationships with God and others. What came up was trusting God more. And when I prayed about and listened for how to trust more, the answer I heard was twofold: to embrace the blessings God has given me and to “let go and know that I am God.”

So when it came time to pick a psalm to memorize, I thought Psalm 46 would be a winner. However, when I sat down to read over it, nothing was sticking. I tried a few times and it just wasn’t speaking to me. And throughout the week, various things came up and I neglected poor 46. Sigh.

When I realized the week had gone by and I hadn’t managed to memorize this psalm, I was discouraged. How could I have been such a slacker? Even if it wasn’t speaking to me, I still should have spent more time with it, opening my heart to see if it would touch me. However, this struggle with Psalm 46 seems to have served to point me in the direction of my next psalm. What could it be? Psalm 42:

As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me continually,
‘Where is your God?’
4 These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng,
and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help 6and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
at the thunder of your cataracts;
all your waves and your billows
have gone over me.
8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God, my rock,
‘Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully
because the enemy oppresses me?’
10 As with a deadly wound in my body,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me continually,
‘Where is your God?’
11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

You may wonder why I’ve chosen a longer psalm when I couldn’t even get through the relatively short Psalm 46 last week, but I think I’ll have better luck because this speaks to me, especially the first two verses: “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Like the deer of the wilderness longing for a stream, I, too, long to be closer to God – to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit and inspired (“in-Spirited”) for service to God and the world.

With this psalm on my lips and in my heart, perhaps it’ll be a constant reminder of what and for whom I should be longing – not after the things of this world, but God. And in those moments when my soul is disquieted and cast down, I can recall that I will indeed praise God at a later time – as I have done in the past so many times due to God’s mercy, grace and outrageous generosity.

© 2011. Annabelle Peake. All rights reserved.

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