“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1,2).
Here is the heart cry of a true believer in “the living God” (v. 2) who had faithfully worshiped and served and loved God, but who has seemingly been forgotten by God. Many others, before and since, have had similar experiences. The verses of this Psalm almost seem to come from the lips of the ancient patriarch Job, the most righteous man on earth in his day, yet suddenly forsaken by God and soon ridiculed and berated by friends and enemies alike. Like the Psalmist, he also cried out for an opportunity to “come and appear before God” (see Job 23:3-9).
Or one might think of the future martyrs under the altar, crying out to God, “How long, O Lord” (Revelation 6:10). There were also all the great “heroes of faith” whose testimonies are enshrined in Hebrews 11, who “all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise” (Hebrews 11:39).
Indeed, most true Christians over the centuries have experienced, like Job, such trials of faith, when—for reasons not known—God seems to have forgotten them, while sinners mocked. Like the hart, thirsty for water, who finds the brook all dried up, for reasons he didn’t cause and doesn’t understand, such a saint might be tempted to complain as he searched for the water of life to soothe the thirst of his soul.
But like Job, if he is genuine, he will never lose his faith. He may cry out: “Why?” But his cry should not be one that questions God. He should not ask God why he is being treated unfairly. Rather, he must question his own doubts: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” (v. 5). God has reasons which we, like Job, may not be able to understand now, but we can always trust Him to do right by those for whom He sacrificed His own Son.
When the “why” questions intrude and God remains strangely silent, we must simply say with the Psalmist: “Hope thou in God” (v. 5). In His own good time, “I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance” (v. 5).
—From Treasures in the Psalms by Henry Morris, (c) 1999 Master Books.