July 24 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. Where can I go to meet him?” ~Psalm 42:1-2

Psalm 41

Book 1 concludes as it began, with God’s blessings enumerated. The life of God-worshippers is understood to be a life of blessing. The good life is not free of difficulties, as this psalm makes clear, but God is both our protector during troubles and our deliverer from them.

David pleads with God to deliver him from those who want to harm him. The king uses his royal power to protect the weak, and he asks God to do the same for him—to protect him from those who warmly greet him face-to-face but then slander him behind his back (v. 6). The imagery David employs to describe his betrayer indicates that he feels his turncoat friend stomped on him. However, David will not be bitter! He will plead for mercy so that he has the confidence to take care of business as only the king can. (King David has the authority to hold betrayers accountable for their deeds.) “Praise be to the Lord,” the one who protects His people (v. 13).

Psalm 42-43

Book 2 of Psalms begins. Almost all of the psalms are stand alone poems or songs with the exception of Psalm 42 and 43 (and also Psalm 9 and 10). Taken together, these two psalms are a plea for God’s help during personal distress or discouragement. It is possible that the writer was suffering from depression but was uncertain why he felt so sad. “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?” (vv. 42:5, 11 and 43:5). Based on the appeal for vindication in verse 43:1, it is evident that circumstances played some role in bringing the poet to this low period. But still, he is frustrated by his inability to hope in God. Shouldn’t he be doing that? He knows God is faithful and can be trusted, but still he struggles!

Sound familiar? Sure it does; we’ve all been there. Perhaps you are there right now. So what do we do when our souls feel so heavy inside us? We pray. We plead. We persevere. As the psalmist so eloquently writes, we long for God to satisfy us. The poet’s beautiful imagery of a deer panting for water streams is not an expression of satisfaction. It is an expression of thirst! The poet expresses his longing for God, the only one who can satisfy him! Imagine the pleasure and relief of a first sip of water after a long, hot day and the contentment of drinking until full. That’s what God is to His people. Those who long for God will find satisfaction in Him.

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.