What Does Psalm 42:1 Mean?

As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God.

Psalm 42:1(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

A depth of urgency and deep pathos is captured in these verses as the metaphor of a weary hind, parched from the blistering heat of the day, is exhausted from the pounding pursuit of howling hounds, who are relentlessly hot on her trail and baying for her blood.

In the blistering heat of the noonday sun, together with her inner turmoil from the baying dogs, and a pounding heart of trembling fear, the little panting hind's longing for a waterhole, is compared with the gaping need in the heart of a believer, yearning for his God. No wonder the psalmist began to write, "As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God," - sentiments to which each of us can often relate.

It is a soul in desperation that pants after God. It is the inner man that is dry, and fearful, and unable to flee from the pressures of life that pursue us unrelentingly, that discerns their need of God. It is the very core of our being, the entire person, the innermost self that aches for God with a deep, deep thirst that cries out to the Lord for help. It is then that we come to the end of our self, and realise that the broken cisterns of this aggressive world can never provide what we need.

It is the thirsty, panting, weary soul, that in recognising their spiritual lack, is overwhelmed with a deep craving for God’s streams of living water. It is the man or woman who has reached the end of their tether, that gasps for the still pools of deep refreshment that no one but the Good Shepherd of the sheep provides for all those who are His.

He is the fountain of life and He is the well-spring of satisfaction for the weary soul. He is the God of comfort and the Prince of peace, Who alone can calm every pounding heart and still every fearful thought. The living water that sustains the soul of a man only comes from God, Who alone can satisfy the exhausted saint.

Without the reviving water-pool, the little deer would be overwhelmed by its craving thirst, or overtaken by the deadly attack of the cruel enemy. And without the water of life, that streams into our hearts from above, and provides health and healing for the whole man, we too would be nothing more than a spiritual corpse that is left exposed and naked, with nowhere to hide.

It was the sons of Korah who penned this beautiful song. The suffering, pain, misery, and distress they were evidently experiencing from the hands of their enemies, brought them to the precipice of despair, but it also caused them to cry out to the Lord a prayer of desperation. And as they poured out their soul to their Father in heaven, they remembered His never-failing goodness and began to rejoice in the assurance of His grace.

The sons of Korah had learned that when our soul is in deep despair, we are to remember the Lord and remind ourselves of His past goodness. We are to recall that His mercies are new every morning - great is His faithfulness. And so they concluded their song by praising God in the knowledge that He would deliver them from all that would harm them, and provide all they needed for life and godliness.

Like the sons of Korah, we too are to recall that the Lord is our strength and stay, that He is our present help in times of trouble, that He is the Rock of our salvation, and the only shelter that can protect us from our enemy and that He is the only refreshment that can sustain our fainting soul.

Unless overshadowed by the Lord our God and refreshed and revived from His living water, we too would find ourselves spent by the heat of life’s difficulties and exhausted from the enemy’s unbroken onslaught - because we live in a Christ-rejecting, sinful world.

Times are hard, and times are getting harder, but the Lord never changes. God alone is the only One that can satiate our hunger and satisfy our thirsty soul. He alone can protect our hearts and minds from the deep deception that is coming on the earth and satisfy our fainting soul. Let us take this metaphor to heart and pant after Jesus - the Living Water, as urgently as the exhausted deer pants for the water-brooks.

My Prayer

Loving Father, I realise more and more how much I need You to be the Restorer of my soul. I need the living water from on high to refresh my heart and sustain my spirit. Times are hard, Father, and sometimes the pressures of life seem to encompass me on every side, but I praise Your name that You are my shelter from the heat and You alone revive my weary soul. Keep me and those I love under the shadow of Your wing. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.

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Psalm 42:1 Further Study

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