“As the deer pants [longingly] for the water brooks, So my soul pants [longingly] for You, O God. My soul (my life, my inner self) thirsts for God, for the living God. When will I come and see the face of God?” Psalms 42:1-2 AMP
David is comparing his longing for the presence of God (in the house of God) the way a deer pants for water.
Why is the deer panting?
-The deer is panting to lose heat and conserve water.
-The deer could be scared, anxious, or stressed.
-It is likely that the deer is being pursued by a predator
It’s likely that David wrote this Psalm while he was being pursued by Absalom, his son.
Yet, In the midst of being pursued by an enemy that wants to kill him, David prays for His presence. This is ironic to me. He doesn’t pray that he silence Absalom or cut him off. That seems to be a fair prayer. He prays for his soul to hope. (Verse 11)
In the midst of being pursued, David prays for his soul. He states clearly that the issue is not the predator, but the soul’s state while he is being pursued. His soul is depressed, languishing, and starved for hope. It has no confidence, but David knows that the presence of God will repair the soul. He is not forcing himself to “act right” or “make the soul obey”. He is not ignoring his emotional response to the predator. His son wants to kill him. There is a human response to that circumstance that could absolutely undo David. But…David knows that if he drinks from God’s presence then he will be safe. His soul will know. The soul will know very well.
“I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” Psalms 139:14 AMP
David knows that the water is enough. He knows that if he doesn’t “drink spiritual water” that he will die. Just like the deer, it is either drink or die. Spurgeon says “he must drink or die—he must have his God or faint.”We can’t live without water for more than 3 days, but we can go 8 to 21 days without food if we have some water. David knew that his soul needed to be quenched. He had an insatiable need to drink. We are created to constantly need water. We could skip a meal but we would begin to shut down without water. We are created to thirst.
The answer to the enemy’s pursuit is to drink. The answer to the emotions stirred by being pursued is to drink. The Lord will protect and defend you. However, how do you get your soul to know that before you are devoured? You drink.
I love what Jesus said to the woman at the well, “Jesus answered her, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water that I give him will never be thirsty again. But the water that I give him will become in him a spring of water [satisfying his thirst for God] welling up [continually flowing, bubbling within him] to eternal life.’ ” John 4:13-14 AMP
The Samaritan woman had been pursued by a lot of shame, guilt and rejection, yet she wanted to drink. That was enough. Jesus revealed to her that he was the Messiah and she took that water to others.
David says he wants the living God. Jesus said he is the living water. A stream of water conveys an endless supply. The well where Jesus and the Samaritan woman will run dry, but David says in Psalm 42:7 that “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” Psalms 42:7 NIV
David wants to get lost in the depths of this living water because it is a supply that will never run dry. When you continually (hour by hour) drink from Jesus’ living water, your soul will know very well.