What a benchmark for how we anticipate worship on the Lord’s Day! The very prospect of meeting with our brothers and sisters to glorify our triune God should arouse the deepest joy imaginable. One wonders how many of us have become so accustomed to the ‘new normal’ of remote worship in absentia that our spiritual senses have been dulled and our appetite for God has become jaded.
It is often the case that we only begin to appreciate what really matters in life when, for some reason, we have lost it. We say, ‘absence make the heart grow fonder’ when we are forced to be away from someone we love deeply. Or, ‘you don’t know what you have until you have lost it’ when we realise how much we have taken something for granted. The same is true in a much deeper sense when it comes to our appreciation of God and what it means to enjoy communion with him.
This comes out in the well-known opening words of Psalm 42 where the psalmist declares, ‘As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.’ (42.1-2). The catalyst for his writing these words is born out of deep sense of being deprived of communion with God as he had once known it.
Although many commentators choose to view this psalm as the cry of a depressed person, Calvin sees it as relating specifically to the loss we experience as God’s people when we are deprived of the means of grace in public worship. Calvin is adamant that, notwithstanding its ascription to the Sons of Korah, its author was David and he penned it in one of his several exiles.