Scripture scholars think Psalm 42 and 43 are one unit, given the common refrain that appears twice in the 42nd numbered psalm and once at the end of the 43rd. While the romantics among us are attracted to the deer lapping up water at streamside, I found myself drawn to the recurring refrain:
Why are you downcast, my soul; why do you groan within me? Wait for God, whom I shall praise again, my savior and my God.
Psalm 42 appears in Monday Morning Prayer, Week II–today in fact. It seems to frame the frequent approach to Monday as a back-to-work day. Why are we so downcast when duties and responsibilities weigh on us? Wouldn’t it be so nice to be like the carefree deer of the forest?
This psalm seems perfect for those downcast with the political situation. Meanwhile, the honesty of the psalmist is so typical of the Jewish forthrightness in prayer. The psalmist is aware of thirst, of the good times of the past, of the raging waters, and honestly confesses inner groaning. Yet the final word is one of optimism? Can we match the whole spectrum of this in our spiritual lives.