Psalm 42: 1–5
In Advent 2020, many people will sympathise with this psalmist – someone who feels excluded from meeting others in the sanctuary, fondly remembering participating in religious festivals and the joy of worship (42: 4).
Psalms 42 and 43 were probably originally one psalm comprising three stanzas, of which today’s reading is the first, each ending with a common refrain, and together forming a heartfelt lament. The reason for the psalmist’s being unable to join in worship is unclear: suggestions include distance (42: 7); illness or injury (42: 10), or enemy threats (43: 1-2). Perhaps the language throughout is symbolically expressing a sense of being cut off. ‘I might as well be on Mount Hermon!’ The opening image of the thirsty deer clearly uses a simile.
We can perhaps be forgiven a glance beyond today’s passage, to where a sense of confidence in God’s light and God’s truth is expressed (43: 3-4). And in the threefold refrain we find the (self?) exhortation to hope. In spite of everything, the psalmist declares, ‘I
shall again praise God’.
Loving God, if we feel cut off from your presence and things we hold
dear, keep our hope alive, for you are our help and our God. Amen