Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?

Psalm 42

Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul
 by Erik Retallick

To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.

 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
   so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
   for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food
   day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
   “Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
   as I pour out my soul:
 how I would go with the throng
   and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
   a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
   and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
   my salvation and my God.


My soul is cast down within me;
   therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
   from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
   at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
   have gone over me.
By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,
   and at night his song is with me,
   a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock:
   “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
   because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As with a deadly wound in my bones,
   my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
   “Where is your God?”

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
   and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
   my salvation and my God.


Many people can probably identify with many of the anguished feelings the Psalmist expresses here, with all the turmoil going on in the world at large, the Middle East and African unrest and their own personal uncertain circumstances and relationships. 

Do these things give us a thirst for God, as expressed here (verses 1-2)? Or do we become bitter and say, why should this be happening to me? As one of my mother’s Christian friends who is very ill, and has been for many years responds when people say, “Don’t you question why God lets all these things happen to you?” with the reply, “Why shouldn’t these things happen to me? Like Paul, she seems to count it a privilege to share in the sufferings of her Lord, to be counted worthy enough to suffer.

In between the overwhelming moments of feeling downcast and depressed, the writer of this Psalm expresses some wonderful thoughts, which we would do well to take to heart in these turbulent times.

1) In verse 2 he longs to come and appear before God, to be in His presence, to take delight in being with Him!

2) In verse 4 he recalls the days when he felt liberty in praising God, making his way with a crowd of God’s people singing with joy as they anticipated a forthcoming festival celebration. Do we feel like that on our way to worship the Lord with our brothers and sisters, or is it a case of sighing and thinking, “it’s that day of the week again, I suppose I ought to go.” 

3) Verse 6 brings in the hope factor, that essential ingredient of our lives, that helps us to get up in the morning and motivates us to serve the Lord with gladness! He obviously had a real sense of God’s presence in the land of Yarden and the Peaks of Mount Hermon and the hill of Mizar. It does us good when we are downcast to recall those precious moments in our lives where God has touched us in a special way and reminded us how special He is to us and how important we are to Him; even the very hairs of our head are numbered.

4) In verse 9, even though the Psalmist questions why God has deserted him, he refers to God as his Rock, the one and only firm foundation in his life. Again, it does us good when we are going through overwhelming problems, to recall that God is our Rock, whose ways are perfect. Deuteronomy 32:4 says “The Rock! His work is perfect, for all his ways are just. A trustworthy God who does no wrong, he is righteous and straight.”

5) This amazing Psalm, which expresses so many depths of sorrow and anguish, ends with a reaffirmation of faith in our trustworthy God, our Rock. “Hope in God, since I will praise Him again for being my Savior and God.” 

Without the walks through the dark valleys and the steep climbs up the rocky mountainsides, how would we ever get to appreciate the mountaintop experiences in our lives? Sometimes the mountaintop experiences may seem far and few between, but they are then all the more precious. Even when his friends and family questioned “Where is your God?” the writer of this Psalm knew deep in his heart that He was there all the time. Likewise, He has promised to “never leave or abandon us” (Hebrews 13:5)

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World Prayr has chosen to be different, starting with teaching others that the pilgrimage all those who have been brought near to God are on is not one about our focusing on what we are doing, or focusing on our sin or anything we are not doing, but focusing on what Christ did in order for us to know transforming grace. We refer to this message as the gospel of grace. We then live this out as a ministry by serving others through counseling, prayer, and sound biblical teachings.

We also differ from most ministries in another key area, working to live out the message of Philippians 2:4 by aggressively promoting other ministries and churches. As a mission team, World Prayr is working to serve those who are disconnected to reconnect them, one soul at a time, to local bodies of believers.

We refer to our team as an “Ohana” made up of many nationalities spread across the globe and within the Protestant faith.

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