Deep Calls to Deep
The words of this familiar hymn came to mind as I read today's daily Bible reaching-- this song and Psalm 42 essentially begin in the same place. But as the Psalm continues, it is plain that the writer is thirsty for God not because he and God hang out all the time. No, it is because he looks for God, but he can’t find Him amid the struggles of life and frustrations of opposition. He is panting for God because at that moment, life is keeping him from seeing God at all:
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” (Psalm 42:2-3)
The psalmist once felt close to God. He looks back (and forward) to praising God along with the faithful (Psa. 42:4). He both still believes in God and believes that he should not be so dejected (Psalm 42:5). So the psalmist decides to muster his faith; he decides to believe despite the difficulty and hardships that he is experiencing. The world has turned against him, but then “deep calls to deep.” Derek Kidner sees in this expression a reflection of Genesis 1:2, “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” The deep (the waters of chaos) cries out to deep (the deep faith that allows the Spirit of God to move over the face of our chaos).
There is tension in this psalm between the truth that God directs his love to us day and night (Psa. 42:8) and the truth that we often face opposition and oppression that makes it feel that God has forgotten us (Psalm 42:9-10). When that happens, what are we going to do? What the Psalmist does is turn his face from the world back to God and make a decision of faith (Psalm 42:11). The deep chaos in our lives cries out to our deep faith.
Faith is not as easy as it sounds in our praise songs! But while these praise songs are speaking to our better angels and encouraging us onward, we do need to remember that many are pulled right out of the laments. What we see has a tendency to obscure our vision of God. But then, we walk by faith and not by sight.
Randy Gill has written a song entitled "Deep Calls to Deep" that captures the message of Psalm 43 (and many of the laments in Psalms). It also captures the dissonance in our lives between the faith we commit ourselves to and the world in which we live. Worship is not always happy-clappy. Sometimes you can't lift your hands in praise because they are busy holding on by our fingernails. But deep calls out to deep; the depths of chaos and confusion calls for a deep faith. And when you have faith, even if it's a shaky, breaky faith, then you worship.