Caring for your soul 1 – Longing for God

The aim of the biblical study is to learn from the Psalmist how he cared for his soul.

This video of the well-known Psalm will greatly add to your devotional time. []



Psalms 42:1-11  

1  As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.

2  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? 3  My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 4  These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.

5  Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation 6  and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. 7  Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. 8  By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

9  I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”  10  As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”  11  Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.


  1. The psalmist longs for God, and then he remembers where he experienced God the most vividly. Where is that place?
    1. Considering the imagery he uses in this Psalm, where would you guess this psalmist was when he composed this song?
  2. The psalmist uses repetition and symmetry a lot to drive home certain truths.
    1. Mark the repeated phrases and imagery and try to discern why he repeats it.
    2. What is the turn-around point in the Psalm? (verse 5)
    3. Note the symmetry in verses 3 and 8.
  3. The psalmist uses poetic language. Can you suggest other words for “downcast soul” and “disquieted soul”?
  4. Look at the beautiful imagery of verse 7.
    1. Whose “waterfalls” and “waves” have gone over him in these dry lands (referred to in verse 6)?
    2. What are these “waters” that comes over him? (consider verse 8 in your answer)
  5. What do you understand with the psalmist’s instruction “Hope in God”? [consider the rest of verse 11 in your answer]
  6. The heading of the Psalm read “To the choirmaster. A maskil of the Sons of Korah.” A “maskil” is a teaching.  In Summery, what is the teaching of the Psalmist?

Personal reflection

  1. The psalmist longs for those times when he experienced God’s presence with other believers in the temple. What was the happiest time(s) for you in your life with God and fellow believers?
  2. In his place of loneliness and desperation the psalmist refers to three unlikely places he encountered “waterfalls” and “waves” of God’s loving kindness in the day and presence at night. Where have you experienced God’s goodness and presence in a similar situation?

Application and Prayer

  1. Become quite and discern the state of your soul – what do you feel or think? What do “your enemies” accuse your of or are your fears?  Do what the Psalmist did:
    1. “pour your soul out to God”
    2. “remember” the goodness and loving presence of God, thanking God for those times of LIFE
    3. In faith declare your “hope in God” (earnest expectation of his goodness”)