NOTEworthy June 27

Wie der Hirsch Schreit

Felix Mendelssohn

As the deer pants for streams of water,
So my soul pants for you, my God
Psalm 42:1

This week’s music comes from a larger work of Felix Mendelssohn’s encompassing the whole of the 42nd Psalm. If you’d like to listen to the larger 24 minute work you can listen to that by clicking here.

In this particular psalm which begins the Book II of the Psalms, our narrator writes about an instinct to praise as something natural, like thirst. The Psalm begins with the famous “As the Deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for God,” He recalls days of praising God in the tabernacle, and chastises himself for his downcast soul.

The Psalmist here finds himself in what the theological community calls “a funk.” He is sad. Forlorn. Lost in dreams of better days that were, not better days that will be. My mind tends to diverge when reading Psalms like this one. Why were they included in the Good Book?

Is it to show us the humanity (and therefore flaws) of some of the great leaders and thinkers of the early church?

Or is it to give us a model for a different type of praise that we may not think “counts?”

I’m always struck in these Psalms by the way the Psalmist challenges God. It’s at once powerful and confusing. Is the Psalmist out of line by questioning their creator? Is this just a part of what a relationship with God means?

I’m afraid I leave you today with more questions than answers, but there is one sure answer to be found in this passage. Repeated in verse 5 and verse 11, a common refrain through the swirling emotions of this text we read, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”

Whatever way you find yourself thirsting for God, know that you will yet praise Him. There is reason to hope, reason to praise. If you can’t find it now, just know that you haven’t found it yet.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
For I will yet praise him
My Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:11

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

Andy Eaton
Director of Music
First Presbyterian Church