Psalm 42 is one of my favorite psalms, as the psalmist takes his troubled soul in hand and marches it toward newfound hope in God: “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” (verse 5). Some years ago I preached on praying ourselves into hope through this psalm. In these troubled times, it may be worth listening to again (or for the first time). You can listen to it here.
As I was re-reading this psalm a week or so ago, I noticed something new, probably because we’re in the midst of crisis. (It’s amazing how much our circumstances change the way we feed on Scripture. We’re in Leviticus in our yearly Bible-reading plan now, and all of a sudden these disease-prevention measures are taking on a different character!)
As the psalmist is struggling to remind himself of God’s unwavering love for him, he makes an unusual statement: “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me” (verse 7). Comparing our suffering to drowning is hardly novel; we still use those terms today. But did you catch the pronoun he uses? “All your waves and breakers have swept over me.” Even while recounting God’s goodness to him, he reminds himself that God is sovereign over these trials. These are his waves. In truth, he is reminding himself that, because these are God’s trials, they must be for his good.
God promises to work all trials for our good, to test and refine us through trials, if we belong to him. God subjugates suffering to his purposes in our lives. With that confidence, we can call these waves crashing over us his, and let our souls rest in that sweet solace.
Why so disturbed? Why downcast? We can put our hope in God because he is working his sovereign good in us through all circumstances.