Jenny's Psalm Reflections: Psalm 42 v.1

Today’s verse is Psalm 42 v.1

“As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.”

Background:

Psalm 42 marks the beginning of the second book of the Psalms, through to Psalm 72, with most again being attributed to King David and relating to incidents in his life. The overriding theme, however, is how God goes before us. We all have days when we feel God has forsaken us. Although the Psalm is often depicted as a happy song about a deer beside running water, it does in fact refer to an act of desolation. It would make more sense to view the deer as being thirsty and on the brink of death.

The Psalmist puts his trust in God continually throughout the Psalm. He has “hope in God” in verses 5 and 11. He keeps praying to God, he remembers times when God was strongly felt but he is also angry with God about how he is feeling abandoned.

Illustration by jeremythomasart.co.uk
Illustration by jeremythomasart.co.uk

I am sure we have all had feelings of abandonment, and I have certainly had times when I just haven’t been able to pray in a meaningful way when things are bleak, particularly when each of my parents died in difficult circumstances. However, the discipline we are taught as priests to make time to pray morning and evening stands us in good stead. The rhythm of prayer is there even if there appears to be no one answering. And God will come back and what a joyous feeling that is! So whatever way you pray, whatever liturgy you use-or not- keep praying, and rest in the peace that others are praying for you as well in difficult times. The habit of prayer is so valuable!

Meditation

1. Find a quiet place.

Sit comfortably but alert – feet flat on the floor, back pushed hard against the back of the chair.

2. Focus as well on your breathing.

Pay attention to in-breaths and out-breaths. You may think of breathing in God’s life and peace and breathing out any tension.

3. Be aware of your body.

Let your aches and pains be there. Rest your feet on the floor; still being aware of them pressed firmly into the floor. Shrug your shoulders, ease your neck. Take time to become still.

4. Ask God how he can make your life count.

You may have some ideas already but read the words of verse 5 again slowly and listen to what your inner voice is saying.

5. Sit quietly and feel safe.

Hand over the situation to God.

6. Finish with this prayer:

God our deliverer and constant companion, help us through you to speak up for the poor and comfort the lost, through the one who for our sakes became poor and whose life was lost to bring about our salvation, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted on May 27th 2021

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