A Painting about Panting
Devotional and Reading from Psalm 42:1-3
To the chief Musician, Maschil, for the sons of Korah.
1 As the hart panteth after the water brooks,
So panteth my soul after thee, O God.
2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God:
When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my meat day and night,
While they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?
The Memory of the Painting
When my children were young they endured many an hour with me at one of my favorite places. It was a Christian bookstore called The Carpenter Shop. They patiently waited, as I would alternate between the massive Christian music collection and the books. Ok, that wasn't exactly true, they impatiently waited. This is a Bible blog so I have to be honest right?
This store also had a large collection of art prints and frames. We would admire one large picture upon every visit. We talked about buying it, but it was too expensive until we discovered that they offered a lay-a-way program. We made payments until we could take it home and hang it in our living room.
The scene was of calm deer, drinking from still waters, surrounded by green grass and pine trees with a waterfall foaming in the distance. Psalm 42:1 was engraved below the print.
That Psalm says, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, So panteth my soul after thee, O God.” Psalm 42:1
At the time we thought it was really something special. It no longer hangs in the house, styles have changed, our tastes have matured, but I still think it is special. That little work of art holds great value to me because of the memory and reminder that at such an early age my family shared my hunger and thirst for God enough for such a thing to be important in our home.
Understanding the Panting
If you think I told you that story in order to brag, to say, “look at me, I craved the spiritual things even as a young man”, then you don’t understand the verse.
Even the artist of that work of art didn’t quite have a grasp of the meaning of the passage. The deer in Psalm 40 were not at peace, there is probably no green grass and certainly no foaming waterfall full of fresh water in view.
The word “pant” implies some form of crisis in the animal, in other words there is a desperate longing for water. An animal will instinctively find water to drink and go to it before the panting begins. In the case of Psalm 42, there is a drought and water is hard to find. The deer is in desperation for his needs to be fulfilled.
Can I gain glory for recognizing need? No way!
Do you congratulate yourself for being hungry? Does anyone expect a pat on the back for thirst? Of course not! I expect no glory for my soul’s desperation. I need God to satisfy me because nothing else will.
My relationships will not quench the internal thirst.
Parenting couldn't stop the panting within me.
Possessions can't give the internal cravings relief.
I have tried many unfulfilling substitutes without success. I need God and my situation is desperate! Thankfully my Lord offers living water. The woman came to the well with a water pot that day in John 4 but left the pot with a well inside.
If you are like me today, panting for something that will quench your soul’s thirst remember that Jesus cried, “I thirst” in order to supply that need.