PSALM 42

 

Rachel Bottoms

 

Text:

 

[1] Like a deer crying for water, my soul cries for You, O God.

[2] My soul thirsts for God, the living God; O when will I come to appear before God!

[3] My tears have been my food day and night; I am ever taunted with,          “Where is your God?”

[4] When I think of this, I pour out my soul: how I walked with the crowd, moved with them, the festive throng, to the House of God with joyous shouts of praise.

 

[5] Why so downcast, my soul, why disquieted within me?

Have hope in God; I will yet praise Him, my ever-present help, my God.

 

[6] O my God, my soul is downcast; therefore I think of You in this land of Jordan and Hermon, in Mount Mizar,

[7] where deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers and billows have swept over me.

[8] By day may the Lord vouchsafe His faithful care, so that at night a song to Him may be with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

[9] I say to God, my rock, “Why have You forgotten me; why must I walk in gloom, oppressed by my enemy?”

[10] Crushing my bones, my foes revile me, taunting me always with, “Where is your God?”

 

[11] Why so downcast, my soul, why disquieted within me?

Have hope in God; I will yet praise Him, my ever-present help, my God.

 

 

Interpretive Commentary:*

 

[1] Like a deer crying for water, my soul cries for You, O God.

God, I need You.  Please, God.  I need You.

 

[2] My soul thirsts for God, the living God; O when will I come to appear before God!

I have searched left and right, up and down—and where?  Where is God?  Perhaps I never should have returned to religion . . .

 

[3] My tears have been my food day and night; I am ever taunted with, “Where is your God?”

Months, it has been three months since I miscarried and still . . . still, this grief.  Now even my colleagues, my fellow biologists don’t take me seriously . . . My professional competitors have openly mocked my faith . . .

 

[4] When I think of this, I pour out my soul: how I walked with the crowd, moved with them, the festive throng, to the House of God with joyous shouts of praise.

I still remember those trips to synagogue as a little girl.  The whole family . . . the laughter, the joy . . .

 

[5] Why so downcast, my soul, why disquieted within me?

I can no longer find laughter in my heart.

 

Have hope in God; I will yet praise Him, my ever-present help, my God.

 

[6] O my God, my soul is downcast; therefore I think of You in this land of Jordan and Hermon, in Mount Mizar,

No, no, I wish I had my child!  My baby.  I drift through my days behind a veil of memories—

 

[7] where deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers and billows have swept over me.

those memories—the blood, all the blood, and—oh—the small, still body—is she breathing is she breathing is she—my God, my God, what have You done?

 

[8] By day may the Lord vouchsafe His faithful care, so that at night a song to Him may be with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

I need to see Him.  I need to feel His love, His care.  I’ve forgotten how to pray at night.  My days are so empty . . .

 

[9] I say to God, my rock, “Why have You forgotten me; why must I walk in gloom, oppressed by my enemy?”

God, I need You!  Please, God.  I need You.  I see only darkness.  I fight and fight, but this despair is crushing me.

 

[10] Crushing my bones, my foes revile me, taunting me always with, “Where is your God?”

Where, where, where is my God?  No one else believes in Him . . . I am trying, trying so hard to believe in Him . . .

 

[11] Why so downcast, my soul, why disquieted within me?

I see only darkness.  I am trying, trying so hard . . .

 

Have hope in God; I will yet praise Him, my ever-present help, my God.

 

I believe, I swear............................

Be strong........................................ I'm sorry.

God will see us through this.......... I'm so sorry.

Please understand......................... Go back to sleep, dear ...

Please be strong.............................



* A prominent young biologist has fallen into a deep depression since her recent miscarriage.  She was raised in a religious Jewish family, but long ago left behind her religion in favor of what she considered more intellectual pursuits.  Now, however, she has openly returned to the religion of her childhood in an attempt to alleviate her depression.  Her peers and professional competitors have mocked her for her religious faith.  Her husband, however, has also recently renewed his faith and remains supportive of her search for God. In the earliest hours of the morning, the biologist lies awake in bed, despairing, murmuring to God and to herself.  Her husband stirs and comforts her.