Two of my favorite verses in the book of Psalms are Psalm 42:1-2. These verses say,
“As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?”
This passage describes an intense desire for something. The illustration is that of a deer panting for water. The Psalmist equates that strong desire to his desire to be near God. Most commentators think the description here is for the writer to go to the temple and be near God who was in the holy of holies.
It is interesting that the word “pant” is describing “to long for something, with the implication of recognizing a lack” (Luow and Nida). I often forget this part of the real meaning of “longing for something.” If a deer is panting for water, it realizes it is lacking something—water. As a result, the deer searches for it.
Before I can long for God, I must realize that I have a need for him. Am I thirsty for God? Do I sense a need to be with him and to talk with him and enjoy my relationship with him? Is that a deep need that I know I am missing? If it is, I will make time to seek him out and to enjoy my friendship with him. If not, why not? Am I preoccupied with things that are hindering my desire for God? If so, I need to set aside anything that is hindering me from longing first for God in my life. This doesn’t mean I can’t be a great husband, dad and employee at the same time. It does mean though that I need to get my priorities set so that my first love for God is possible.
Father, thank you for the great illustration we see here in Psalms. Help me to be thirsty for you first and help me to make you the priority that you should be. May you grant that I consistently have a strong desire for you.
Following Jesus with you,