NWA10 – John Stephens on Psalm 42

Yesterday evening I went to the adult celebration.  The student celebration covered the same psalm but by a different speaker.  In both cases the preacher aimed to help us to be overwhelmed in a godly way.  I heard reports of many being moved to tears during the student celebration where Nigel Styles was speaking; my good buddy and normally emotionally stable friend Sam Allberry looked quite moved afterwards when we met up. Here are my notes from the first session:

This psalm is not only about depression, it is also speaking about the exprience of exile.  We are all in exile here on a hostile earth and unable to fully get back into the presence of God.  The psalms are searingly honest. We don’t need pretense with God.  We hear the heart of the psalmist and we can listen in and pour out our own hearts.

There is a movement here from lament to hope.  We may feel this way almost daily since we live in a fallen world.

Three questions to help us learn from his experience:

1. Why was he troubled?

God had judged him, and it felt like he had been forgotten by God. Despite the fact that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, but we still live in a sinful broken world. The psalmist faces reality full-on. At one level we should feel downcast as we watch the news and see what is happening in a world being destroyed by sin. Unless we are downcast we will not turn to God.

2. Why was he hopeful

Despite his feelings about God,  he remains confident in him. He thirsts after him.  He is taunted “where is your God” but he knows God is with him.

3. How did he find hope in the midst of trouble?

He refuses to wallow in self pity. He counsels himself. He rebukes himself brutally. He commands himself. We must minister the truth to ourselves. He also cries to God.  He is very direct and argues with God, telling him how we wants him to act.

God wants us to long for heaven and to be with him.  The trouble for many of us is that when our lives are easy we settle for too little.  It is only our desires for God that will make life on earth livable.

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