The Longing - Psalm 42:1-11

1.      What are some things that make us feel depressed? (Weather; Health; Finances; Our weight; Disappointments; Poor economy; Loss of a job or promotion; Taxes; Difficult family situations; God’s silence; Combination of all the above.)

It is not a sin to have feelings of depression.

2.      Who are some people we label as “heroes of the faith” who experienced severe depression? (There are many examples in the Bible of Godly people going through times of depression. Moses, Jeremiah, David, Elijah, Job, even Jesus on the cross—and the list goes on.)

It is easy to find ourselves in circumstances that overwhelm us.

3.       What is the difference between being depressed and being in despair? (Depressed is a feeling of sadness or gloom; despair is a feeling of hopelessness.)

It is normal to have times when we feel down or depressed over our circumstances, but Christians are never without hope.

4.      What are some ways we contribute to our own depression or feelings of hopelessness? (Withdrawing from church; pulling away from Christian brothers and sisters; failure to feed on God’s Word; etc.)

Today’s study will show us how we can discover fresh hope, even in the midst of overwhelming circumstances.

5.      When life is overwhelming how can we find hope for joyful living?

Psalms 42 and 43 have the same theme and the refrain in 42:5 and 11is repeated in 43:5. Many scholars believe Psalm 42 and 43 were one psalm originally. The psalmist was in a state of depression and even seems, at times, to be in despair. But he preaches to himself about how to overcome these feelings.

 

Thirsty! Read Psalm 42:1-4

 

1.      What if you could come to church only three times a year? How do you think you would feel in the times between those visits? (Sometimes distance prevented even devout Jews from making the pilgrimage to the sanctuary in Jerusalem. We will read later about the Hermon Mountain Range in far northeast Israel. Perhaps the psalmist lived near there—a good distance from Jerusalem!)

2.      How did the psalmist describe his agony in these verses? (It is impossible to imagine someone being thirsty and not knowing they are thirsty. The problem isn’t knowing when you’re thirsty. The problem is knowing what will satisfy your thirst. 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by water. We can live only three days without water. The human body is 60% water. And we need 64 ounces of water daily. Water is essential to our existence physically and God is essential to our spiritual existence!)

3.      Have you ever been “dying of thirst,” what does it feel like? (See John 7:37-39)

4.      What kind of thirst is the psalmist experiencing? (Spiritual.)

5.      What is the one solution given in the psalm for satisfying thirst?

6.      What evidence do you see in our world today indicating that people know they are spiritually thirsty?

7.      With what do people attempt to satisfy their thirst?

8.      What does a thirst for God look like?

9.      How can believers create a thirst for God? (The life we live before others should look like a crystal clear stream of cold refreshing water that they too can drink from.)

10.  How do you feel when unbelievers say to you in your depression, “Where is your God?”?

In verse 4 the psalmist remembers the time when he led the procession as they went to the Temple to worship and longs for such a time!

 

At the same time the palmist was dying of thirst, he felt as though he was drowning in his depression and despair. Let’s look at how that is possible! Listen for words connected with water.

Drowning! Read Psalm 42:5-8

 

1.      What words are connected with water here? (Jordan River, streams from mountains, deep, waterfalls, breakers, billows.)

2.      How would you paraphrase verse 5? (The psalmist asked himself why he was so depressed. Then he gave himself the solution to his depression. But to know the solution and apply it to my life are two different things.)

3.      Why is it important to know why you are depressed? (Times of sadness can range from having the blues to clinical depression requiring professional help.)

4.      How can unresolved despair produce more despair?

5.      What role should a person’s faith play when it comes to facing a situation that could cause despair in life? (Trust in God no matter what. Remember He is in control and will be with us and comfort us. Seek what God is trying to teach us.)

6.      What reasons did the psalmist give for continuing? (Repeating truths about God and seeing God as our Rock are two of several ways to keep going despite adversity. Focusing on God even when you don’t feel like it is the beginning of the way out. “Put your hope in God;” “praise Him;” “His faithful love by day;” “His song in the night;” “a prayer to the God of my life.”)

7.      Placing our hope in God (v. 5), praising God(v.5), remembering God (v.6), and praying to God (v8) are all appropriate responses when we feel like we are drowning in despair. Of these four, which have come easier to you when you’ve dealt with discouragement?

8.      Which are easier said than done?

 

Just like in real life, the psalmist didn’t immediately bounce back from despair. Instead, he went from feeling like he was drowning to feeling crushed.

Crushed! Read Psalm 42:9-11

 

1.      What different reason for his depression does the psalmist reveal here? (Here he talks about predators and adversaries. Up to this point he hasn’t talked about the effect of other human beings on his emotional state.)

2.      We grew up hearing “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” Is that true?

It’s significant that verse 10 compares verbal taunts to the crushing of bones. Scripture acknowledges that words really can cause harm. We have all been hurt by someone’s words or actions.

3.      How does the promise of God’s presence serve as encouragement during hurtful times?

4.      How does His faithful presence function as proof of His future promises?

God understands and sympathizes with our troubles (Heb. 4:15). In fact, Jesus experienced many of the same problems we do while on earth.

5.      How does God use people to supply solutions to our troubles?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Just as humans need water more than anything other than oxygen to survive, we need regular time with God to quench our spirits, especially when we feel like we are drowning in discouragement.

 

Review your regular habits, especially your habit of spending time with God.

1.      What time of day is best for you?

2.      How can you schedule a daily time with God that will not get pushed aside by other obligations?

3.      What can you do to make sure you protect your daily time with God?

4.      How many of us have experience deep discouragement sometime this year? Month? Week? Now?

 

Let’s commit to pray for each other this week.