05 November, 2006

A Meditation From the Depths Towards the Heights

Sometimes in the Christian experience we have dark nights of the soul. These are times when our experiences of the world around are affecting us to the point where God feels far from us. Our soul longs for closeness and communion with God, through Christ, yet we cannot muster the energy to bring worship from the depths of our being. The Puritans referred to these times as being in the Valley of Vision. This is where we are brought low as into a valley for the purpose of seeing our loving God on the apex of the mountains above us.

The Psalms are perfect meditations for times in the Valley of Vision. John Calvin called the Psalms a complete anatomy of Christian experience. Allow me to share one such Psalm that I have been meditating on today. May the Lord be blessed as we command praise from the depths of our souls!

The tune is Freu Dich Sehr, also entitled, Thirsting. The text is a translation of the Genevan poet Louis Bourgeous' rendition of Psalm 42. It was originally written in 1551 and then translated by Dewey Westra in 1931.

This meditative Psalm is one that is worth putting into memory for such a time as this. Again, may the Lord be blessed as we walk in the Valley of Vision.

As the hart, about to falter,
In its trembling agony,
Panteth for the brooks of water,
So my soul doth pant for Thee.
Yea, athirst for Thee I cry;
God of life, O when shall I
Come again to stand before Thee
In Thy temple, and adore Thee?

Bitter tears of lamentation
Are my food by night and day;
In my deep humiliation
Where is now thy God? they say.
Yea, my soul doth melt in me,
When I bring to memory,
How of yore I did assemble
With the joyful in Thy temple.

O my soul, why art thou grieving,
Why disquieted in me?
Hope in God, thy faith retrieving;
Let Him still thy refuge be.
I shall yet extol His grace
For the comfort of His face;
He has ever turned my sorrow
Into gladness on the morrow.

From the land beyond the Jordan
I bewail my misery;
From the foothills of Mount Hermon,
O my God, I think of Thee.
As the waters plunge and leap,
Deep re-echoes unto deep;
All Thy waves and billows roaring
O'er my troubled soul are pouring.

But the Lord will send salvation,
And by day His love provide;
He shall be my exultation,
And my song at eventide.
On His praise e'en in the night
I will ponder with delight,
And in prayer, transcending distance,
Seek the God of my existence.

I will say to God, my fortress:
Why hast Thou forsaken me?
Why go I about in sadness
For my foes' dread tyranny?
Their rebukes and scoffing words
Pierce my bones as pointed sword,
As they say with proud defiance:
Where is God, thy soul's reliance?

O my soul, why art thou grieving;
Why disquieted in me?
Hope in God, thy faith retrieving;
He will still thy refuge be.
I shall yet through all my days
Give to Him my thankful praise;
God, who will from shame deliver,
Is my God, my rock, forever.

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