Saturday, May 20, 2006

Deep Calls Unto Deep

Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me.
The LORD will command His love in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me —
A prayer to the God of my life.
(Psalm 42:7-8)
“Deep calls unto deep.” Christians use this phrase most often to refer to a deep, personal experience of the Lord ministering to them — from the depths of God’s heart to the depths of their own. Indeed, it is a profound thing.

But the psalm writer here was using it in a different way. He was going through very difficult circumstances, sorrow and affliction were pounding him relentlessly, and he was overwhelmed by the weight of it all. All he could hear was the roaring waters of trouble. But at his core, he realized that God had something much better for him. Though disoriented by his situation, he addressed it in faith. His refrain was:

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.
(Psalm 42:5, 11; Psalm 43:5)
So how did the “deep calls unto deep” of verse 7 transform into the positive and moving expression it is today. Perhaps it is because of the testimony of verse 8:
The LORD will command His love in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me —
A prayer to the God of my life.
This is the centerpiece of the psalm. Even in the midst of the worst trouble, those who are in covenant with God have a source that will not only comfort them and get them through the time of distress, but will cause them to overcome and rejoice. God’s love, provision and protection will be made manifest to them in the broad daylight, where everybody can see it. In the night, there will be no terror, no worry, no sorrow—only a song hope.

Deep calls unto deep. Outwardly, the depth of misery and pain weighed heavily upon him. But there is a depth that is greater and much more powerful, powerful enough to overwhelm sorrow and affliction and carry them far away. It is the depth of God’s love, the revelation of His heart. This is the will of God being made known on our behalf, and it is always for the working of our good.

There is also the depth of God’s song stirring inside us, the song of His Spirit always encouraging us, renewing our hope and rekindling our faith. This love and this song come from the heart of God and penetrate to the depths of our own hearts, bringing forth prayers of faith, hope and love. So the psalmwriter speaks to his inner man and instructs himself:
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help* of my countenance and my God.
It is as T. S. Elliot said at the end of his Four Quartets, in the poem, “Little Giddings”:
And all shall be well
And all manner of things shall be well.
Do not be overwhelmed by the depths of sorrow and circumstance. Set your expectation on God and He will deliver you completely. Let the depth of His love overwhelm the depths of your heart and fill you with songs of rejoicing and praise. The peace of God that passes all understanding will flood you, and all shall be well.

[* The Hebrew word used for “help” here is yeshuah, the word for salvation. Used as a name, it is Yeshua, rendered in English as Jesus.]