Psalms For Life
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Yahveh Elohim hear our prayers

Psalm 42


Unfairly targeted or excluded, we can easily slip into depression, which makes it painful to remember all we’ve lost. The way out is in earnestly seeking the God who hasn’t abandoned us.

A descendants of Korah psalm.

Like a deer pants for rippling brooks
so my soul longs for you, O God!
My whole being thirsts
for the God who is alive.
When will I behold his face?
Day and night
I’ve had nothing to eat but salt tears
thanks to my enemies’ incessant taunting:
“Where is your God now?
Where is your God now?”
I ache to think how I used to lead
the pilgrim throng to your house
swept along in the joyful din
of our songs of praise and worship.

Why are you so downcast, my soul?
Why in such turmoil?
Hope in God!
I will yet praise him
for coming to my rescue
and being my God.

Depressed as I am
I think of you wherever I go
from the Jordan trough
to lofty Mount Hermon
to the last little no-name hill.
7 Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfall
only then for your raging rapids
to pummel and pound me and spit me out.
Yet YHWH sends me
tokens of his unfailing love by day
and puts his song in my heart by night—
a prayer to the God who is my life.

I cry to my rock face of a God
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I tramp about in gloom
harassed by my enemies?”
10 Their relentless taunts cut me to the bone:
“Where is your God now?
Where is your God now?”

11 Why are you so downcast, my soul?
Why in such turmoil?
Hope in God!
I will yet praise him
for coming to my rescue
and being my God.

The psalmist is deeply depressed. His cross-country trip is no sightseeing excursion. He’s running for his life, his enemies hounding him at every turn. Plunging over this waterfall of a ride, he hears one churning plunge-pool call to the next, as he’s pummelled and pounded, and spit out. Panting at the bottom of the falls, he’s pained to remember the good times, when he led happy pilgrim throngs to God’s house. Now his enemies’ taunts make him feel like he’s dying, as they exclude him from that holy place—clear proof to them that God has abandoned him.

In fact, he knows they’re wrong: God hasn’t abandoned him. Through his tears, he sees God as fully present, at work in his life. Roughing him up—disciplining him. But also sending him clear tokens of his love every day and giving him God-songs, like this one, in the night.

Wonderfully, the psalmist knows he’s made for intimacy with God, that what he’s really panting for is God. He can’t live without him. So he does the two things he needs most to do. He talks to God, rock-solid dependable, pouring out his longing for him. He also takes himself in hand. Depression locks us into ourselves, our overpowering emotions, our often faulty perceptions, our mental narratives. So, he engages in self-talk, redirecting his thoughts to God, his only hope. And he does both things multiple times because depression never gives way easily.


I long for you, Jesus. Without you, I’m locked into grief and regret—into myself. A voice inside says you’ve sidelined me, are done with me. But you say, “Never!” Now that you’ve got my full attention, you’re beginning anew. I will yet praise you for rescuing me, being my God. Amen.

In your free moments today, pray these words:

Like a deer pants for rippling brooks
so my soul longs for you, O God!


Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH or YHVH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and sometimes transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Likewise, all modern translations either translate or transliterate it. Some other options for translating it are “the Eternal,” “the Almighty,” or “the Sovereign Lord.”

While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it seems to me more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. This roots it more firmly in the biblical story as the name God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. Meaning “the self-existent One who answers to no one,” the name YHWH set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. I’ve chosen to transliterate only YHWH’s consonants since the earliest Hebrew manuscripts contain only consonants, the vowels being added much later. My aim in doing so is to honor God’s name and set it apart, as unique.

One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it out of reverence. (They read Adonai instead whenever they come to YHWH in the text.) I take the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard, who advocated pronouncing it as Yahveh (Yah·vay). He favored that over the standard Yahweh since the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish. It also makes it sound more robust, period.

Finding strength in the ancient psalms

May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.