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.
This famous psalm begins with a more famous image.
“As the deer pants for streams of water,” the poet wrote, “so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (vv. 1–2).
This is often depicted as a peaceful scene. But in truth, it is a scene of desperation. The downcast soul is parched for a sense of God’s presence. Instead of quenching that thirst, the poet says that all he tastes are his own tears.
Pause right there. How does that description land on your heart? How does it speak to your own experiences?
The scene then takes a turn for the worse, moving from the language of desperation to outright danger. In the rocky hill country of Israel, the dry valley can quickly become a dangerous place during the rainy season. As rain runs down into the dry valley, it turns into a stream. Sounds refreshing. But the stream rapidly becomes a deadly channel of fast-flowing water, a barreling wall of waves that rush over and wash away anything in its path.
Let’s pause again. Perhaps this imagery resonates as well. When you read, “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me,” you don’t envision a stroll on the beach. Instead, you see what the poet likely intended’the fear of being crushed and buried by the weight of it all.
You are not alone. How many of the poets and prophets, kings, and catalysts of the Scripture narrative wrestled with the same? How many of them experienced a deeper journey that drove them downward? But like them, don’t deny the reality you’re facing. Instead, remember the hope that will hold you through it.
Our souls thirst for you, God. But at times we confess that we feel as if we will be crushed by the weight of it all. Help us to trust you with our most honest desperation, and allow the weight to drive us deeper into you.
What weight threatens to take you down? Do you perceive a way that it can drive you deeper into God?
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