Summary: Psalm 42, we are coping with grief, after whats been a horrible week.
Sermon 041009 Psalm 42
I’ve had a few things to celebrate this week…..etc.
But it doesn’t always go according to plan; in fact some days do anything but go according to plan. I can remember a day when I was on faults (I was for years a faults-man in the power distribution industry) I was called out in the wee small hours, to a Ute that had hit pole and the lines had fallen onto the ground, starting a fire just out of Oamaru. The blokes who hit the pole had been out shooting. I arrived to find the fire brigade, doing their job. The shooters appeared to have bagged a rabbit, a black bird and a seagull; it must have been a hunting trip to remember. We soon discovered that we would have to drop out the power to the whole area to make the accident site safe.
So we did, got that fault fixed after a few hours just to be called to another fault three quarters of a hour away; this was fairly basic, a possum had got cooked up on a transformer, that job was completed quickly.
The next call came in, just as I finished the last this one from the Omarama Fire Brigade, a couple of fishermen who had dropped a line as a result of hitting a power pole up by the Lindus Pass with their rental car. The power was still on. Within about an hour and a half we arrived on site. Thankfully no one had been killed that day and the Fire Brigade up the Lindus had had the good sense to stay clear of the live 11000 volt wires. I got home for diner that night. Interestingly the fishermen who hit that pole never did pay for the repairs. I offered to go to Japan to take them the bill, the boss wasn’t so keen.
We all have days that start out not quite how we expect, we even have days when we wonder why we got out of bed. I know there have been a few days that I’m more than happy to see the end of. Days like the one I described made life more than a little interesting.
The Psalmist in psalm forty two had had more than one or two rough days, it is thought he was a Levite Priest who for some reason was at the time of his writing this poem, physically distant from Jerusalem and the temple. Scholars believe that he may have been in exile with King David somewhere beyond the Jordan.
This man was missing his being in the presence of God. It should be remembered that at that time God was worshipped at the temple You may remember me preaching about how the Holy of Holies was the place of Gold and the that glory of God hovered between the Cherubim’s wings on top of the Mercy seat on top of the Ark of the Covenant, behind the curtain.
Now this despairing priest compares the state of his soul to the thirst of a deer as it pants for need of water. He feels it is only within the presence of the Living God that he can be refreshed. Not only that, he’s grief stricken at the thought of not being able to be in the presence of God.
He is challenged by some of those around him, “where is your God?”
On being challenged he remembers where his God is, where he used to go to worship his God with the multitude of the people; leading the procession of the people to the house of God, to the temple, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving, among the festive noise and bustle. This man knew what it was to be in God’s presence and to be joyfully praising God.
In his crying out to God it sounds to me like he was busting at the seams to get back to the temple.
He then remembers I’m paraphrasing, “get it together man, why are you so down, why such a mess. Put your hope in God, you’ll be praising him yet; he’s your saviour and your God. I’m down but I’m not out, so I will remember Him. I may be distant from the place I worship God but I will remember him where I am.”
The psalmist / the poet is giving himself a bit of a shake up. He sees that he is in despair but that God is still there but he is finding it hard to acknowledge that, as he’s always worshipped in one place, at the temple. He is realizing that he needs to refocus his gaze.
In verse seven he starts calling out in despair again “deep calls to deep in your waterfalls; all your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. This is metaphor a word picture for despair. We could read “deep calls to deep” as “blow after blow hits me.” This man is down in the dumps; we could compare his situation to being homesick and threatened. Life literally is the pits.