Passage: Psalm 42:1-2

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?


There is no substitute for experiencing the presence of God. If I’m only serving God and not drawing near to Him, I can get very dry and shallow in my relationship with God. Does that ever happen to you? Busyness without connection with God is one common way that burnout happens. There have always been people in my life that have helped me get back on track in this area; the temptation for me to become too focused on serving is very real every week. I remember starting out in ministry with so much zeal, and my mentor, Carl expressing, “The work you do for God will never go deeper than your relationship with Him.” Those words still echo inside of me often!

A red deer can exceed 400 pounds and has a large number of antlers. The psalmist who wrote the above passage had no weak or small hunger for God. He was a “son of Korah” which was the Levitical choir appointed by David to serve in the temple; today’s equivalent would be a worship leader. This is a very honest and vulnerable psalm written by someone in a leadership position. Long-term followers of Jesus and leaders had struggles in their faith and their walks with God. The author of Psalm 42 didn’t hide what was happening in his life; he put it out there for us to read. The Bible doesn’t cover up the human side of our faith: it gives us raw honesty. You will notice the author is depressed: five times he used the words downcast, despair, or disturbed. The psalmist was often in tears as he was surrounded by people taunting him, yet he continued to praise God and expressed his thirst for God in the deepest way. It’s truly aninspiring example of someone who has learned how to cherish God and the grace of His presence.


1) Self-sufficiency is too heavy a burden to carry:

The psalmist admitted to God that he needed heavenly help. When we don’t try to manage everything on our own, pressure begins to roll off our shoulders onto the One who can carry the stress for us.

2) Have spiritual longings that won’t be satisfied too easily:

We often find food, television, sleep, or drugs to replace an experience with God. Have more than just a token desire to know God.

3) Hope from God is more real than your feelings:

Like us, the psalmist’s feelings wavered between praise and lament. God’s hope is present the entire time, but it is often closer and more reliable than it feels. Don’t let our feelings lead us, that is Jesus’ role.

4) The wrong carrot leads to the wrong destination:

Everyone is chasing some kind of carrot in life. The psalmist rid himself of misleading goals, so God is his main pursuit. If we chase the wrong prize in life, we will usually end up in the wrong place.

5) You won’t do better than to be in God’s presence:

God is refreshment for the weary, love for the lonely, a rock for the insecure, peace for the soul, a song for the downcast, and help for the one who is outnumbered.


1. When have you been thirsty for God?

2. When can you trust your feelings?

3. What are some of the things that you are chasing now?

4. What have been your richest times in God’s presence?

Deeper Study:

Psalm 84 Take time to draw near to God during your day.

Jeremiah 2:13 There is no adequate substitute for having God in your life.

John 4:1-26 Empty religion pales in comparison with knowing Jesus.

Exodus 33:12-18 Seek God’s face more than His hand.

Song Of Songs 2:4 Realize how much God loves you and receive His love.


Heavenly Father, I confess that I often try to find substitutes in my life instead of seeking You. Forgive me for trying to look more spiritual around people than I really am.
From the deepest parts of my being, I cry out to You now. I have no real hope without You. Draw near to me Lord as I draw near to You. I praise You in Jesus’ name. Amen.