Do You Appreciate Being With God’s Servants?
IF YOU were prevented from being with your spiritual brothers, how would you feel? Would you have an intense longing to share with them in worship?
Psalm 42 depicts for us the situation of a Levite, one of the descendants of Korah, who found himself in exile. His inspired words can be very helpful to us in maintaining high appreciation for association with fellow believers and for enduring under unfavorable circumstances.
The psalmist declared: “As the hind that longs for the water streams, so my very soul longs for you, O God. My soul indeed thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps. 42:1, 2) A hind, or female deer, cannot survive for long without water. This creature will search out the life-sustaining liquid and drink, even though this may subject her to possible attack from beasts of prey. Just as the hind longs for water because of necessity, the psalmist longed for Jehovah.
In a dry country, where the vegetation withers quickly during the rainless season, water is very precious and is not readily available. That is why the psalmist speaks of himself as ‘thirsting for the Almighty.’ Because of being deprived of the privilege of going to the sanctuary, he asks when he might again “appear before God.”
When confinement on account of persecution prevents a person from being with his fellow believers, this can be very depressing. Verse 3 of Psalm 42:3 indicates that the Levite’s exile did affect him emotionally. We read: “To me my tears have become food day and night, while they say to me all day long: ‘Where is your God?’” Because of the unfavorable situation in which he found himself, the psalmist was so sorrowful that he lost his appetite. Thus his tears proved to be as food to him. Day and night, tears would stream down his cheeks and over his mouth. Taunters would say: “Where is your God?” In other words, they asked: ‘Why does not the God in whom you trust help you?’ This ridicule added to the psalmist’s affliction.
How did he try to encourage himself so that he might not be overwhelmed by his grief? He continues: “These things I will remember, and I will pour out my soul within me. For I used to pass along with the throng, I used to walk slowly before them to the house of God, with the voice of a joyful cry and thanksgiving, of a crowd celebrating a festival. Why are you in despair, O my soul, and why are you boisterous within me? Wait for God, for I shall yet laud him as the grand salvation of my person. O my God, within me my very soul is in despair. That is why I remember you, from the land of Jordan and the peaks of Hermon, from the little mountain.”—Ps. 42:4-6.
Note that the psalmist reflected on the past, on a time when he was not in exile. He pours out his soul, his very being, with an intensity of feeling, and voices what he once enjoyed. This Levite recalls how it used to be in his native land when he, in association with fellow Israelites, walked to Jehovah’s sanctuary to celebrate a festival. What joy and gratitude he then felt!
Initially, this reflection on the past did not comfort the psalmist but added to his pain, as he realized just how much he was missing. He asked himself why he was so disturbed within himself, so downcast. Yet, his thoughts about the past made him aware of his God. Therein lay his comfort. So he encouraged himself to wait patiently for Jehovah to act. The psalmist did not allow the unfavorable circumstance to dull his conviction that, in time, Jehovah would come to his aid, making it possible for him to praise the Most High for effecting a grand salvation or deliverance. Though far away from the sanctuary, apparently in the area of Mount Hermon with its peaks, the psalmist remembered Jehovah.
If you find yourself discouraged because of unfavorable circumstances, do what the psalmist did. Call to mind that Jehovah will not forsake his servants. He will come to your aid. Still, you may sense keenly the undesirable effects of your trials. This does not mean that you have lost faith. Though the psalmist was confident that Jehovah would come to his rescue, he still experienced grief. Why, the very surroundings in the area of his exile, though beautiful in themselves, reminded him of his sad plight! We read: “Watery deep to watery deep is calling at the sound of your (water)spouts. All your breakers and your waves—over me they have passed.”—Ps. 42:7.
These words may be descriptive of what happens when the snows of Mount Hermon melt. Tremendous waterfalls are created and these pour into the Jordan, causing it to swell. One wave seems to speak to another wave. This impressive display of power reminded the psalmist of his being overwhelmed by affliction as if being engulfed by a flood.
Next, he again expresses his confidence in the Most High, saying: “By day Jehovah will command his loving-kindness, and by night his song will be with me; there will be prayer to the God of my life.” (Ps. 42:8) The Korahite Levite does not doubt that Jehovah will express His loving-kindness or active compassionate concern for him, bringing relief. This will enable him to praise Jehovah in song and to offer a prayer of thanksgiving.
Still, the psalmist cannot escape from thinking about the distressing situation of the present. He continues: “I will say to God my crag: ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why do I walk sad because of the oppression of the enemy?’ With murder against my bones those showing hostility to me have reproached me, while they say to me all day long: ‘Where is your God?’ Why are you in despair, O my soul, and why are you boisterous within me?”—Ps. 42:9-11a.
Though the psalmist viewed Jehovah as a mighty crag where one could find safety when pursued by the enemy, he does wonder why he was seemingly forsaken. Yes, the Most High had permitted him to continue being sad or dejected while the enemy exulted in triumph. The psalmist speaks of himself as being reproached in a hateful way. So vicious was the derision that it could be likened to ‘murder against the psalmist’s bones’ or against his very frame. Hence, he again raised the question as to why he was so troubled. But he did not waver in faith, for he concluded: “Wait for God, for I shall yet laud him as the grand salvation of my person and as my God.”—Ps. 42:11b.
Regardless of what may befall us, may we, like the psalmist, continue to look to Jehovah God for help. May we also highly appreciate whatever spiritual association we may now enjoy with others.