Summary: We may find ourselves asking God where He is, but we must remind ourselves that God loves us and God is with us all day long.
Put Your Hope in God
The writer of this psalm is a Korahite
That means a few different things. He was a highly respected Levite who was part of a rich family tradition of music and worship. He was a man of status, deeply embedded in the tradition of Temple worship. It means that his family lived somewhere in the Southwest district of Israel, probably within 60 miles of Jerusalem. It means according to Numbers 8 that he was allowed to work only 20 to 25 years at his craft till he was required to retire at the age of 50.
I think this is important, because I believe the man who wrote this Psalm was retired. Look at verse 4. The writer of this Psalm used to lead a multitude or a festive throng in singing at the Temple. He lived in a time when the Northern kingdom was still intact and Temple Worship was still active.
This particular man is no longer assisting at the Temple. He is no longer even living in Jerusalem. He has moved to the far north near Mt. Hermon. He is far from the Temple in Jerusalem and in the cities of his Levite clan in the south-west. He lives about as far as you can get from the Temple and still be in Israel up in the Jordan hill country in the tribe of Dan.
Historically the further north you got, the less inclined the people were to Temple worship. Mt. Hermon was close to Dan where one of the first two official sites of idol worship were established shortly after the kingdom divided. It may have been in this very city that the writer of this Psalm lived.
This man is living in the shadow of his life. If he is retired, he is over 50, which was relatively old for that day, he is old enough to be thinking about death. Verse 7 is the hint of this. He feels as if he is drowning in darkness. The Israelites were the ultimate land lubbers. The sea was a source of fear for them in this day. Jonah used very similar language when he prayed from the belly of the fish in Jonah 2. He thought he was going to die.
• This man is living among aggressive idolaters
• He is too old to officially work at his profession
• He may feel that he will die soon
• He is far from the Temple he enjoyed so much
• More than anything he wants to go back to the Temple
This man’s situation has gotten him down
“My tears have been my food day and night” he says. The threat of death may be very real, but his situation is worse than that. He feels abandoned by God. It is easy to see why:
• He is surrounded by the unfamiliar
• He is far from what he loves
• The center of God’s presence is far away
• He is getting older
• He feels the aggression of opposition
Some of you can identify:
• Do you have family far away? So did this man.
• Can you no longer do everything you used to do and enjoy? Him too
• Do you feel like a minority, especially when it comes to your faith? He knows how you feel.
• Is the world changing faster than you can keep up with? Been there, done that.
• Does it feel sometimes like God has abandoned you to this world of strangeness and discomfort? This anonymous man felt it too
And he overcame it! How? He relied on the hope he found in his relationship with God.
He focused on his spiritual need
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”
Often we most acutely feel the lack of things we do not need when we neglect our true needs. There are a few basic things that we will all admit that we need:
• Something to occupy ourselves
When we begin extending our list of needs too far beyond this list we find ourselves justifying the need. Maybe our justification is valid or maybe it isn’t. I wouldn’t want to make any blanket statements, but we should always be ready to break our lives down to the bare necessities if it is required and to live in contentment with those things.
But even in the realm of absolute necessities there is to be priority. Jesus said,
do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.