I shall praise him again

Spiritual experience in the Ps 42 and 43

Three conversations with the soul (= with myself) and with God end with an encouragement: "Hope in God!" (42:6.12; 43:5)

God is present in these Psalms, he is the center of the prayer: there is 17 times Elohim in the text. This fact and the sincere and familiar talk to "my God" is the answer to the repeated temptation "Where is your God?" (42:4.11).

Hebrew word for soul (nefesh) is usually understood simply as life, and it literally designates "desire". The soul in the Psalms longs, thirsts, is cast down, disquieted – literally: shattered.

The sorrow is so deep that tears become food; they are abundant as waves and waterfalls.
The painful attack comes from the "adversaries" (42:11) that are interpreted later on as "an ungodly people, those who are deceitful and unjust" (43:1). But from God is the defense expected, as with Job and Jeremiah.

The Psalmist is going to the roots of the problem: he thinks that God has forgotten him and cast him off. He is open with God and asks why.

The fundament for his hope is his memory. He remembers the procession to the house of God (42:5); he remembers God himself ("I remember you… "42:7).

In the middle of the prayer in Ps 42:9 there is a sign of intimacy and deep familiarity. There is once God's personal name there: Yahweh, the Lord – like Jesus in the NT, – not only the abstract noun "God". And in the same verse there is an important change: By day and by night instead of the tears (42:3) there is God's steadfast love and his song.

For reflection:
How is my soul thirsty? How do I feel my deep human desire?
What are my "adversaries"?
Where is my God?

9 Aug 2011 N. Bilić SJ