How to Get God's Help in the Hard Times

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1. Call on the Lord (vs. 1-4). 2. Check our attitudes (vs. 5). 3. Commit ourselves to the Lord's care (vs. 6-7). 4. Confess our faith in God (vs. 8a). 5. Keep calling on the Lord (vs. 8-10). 6. Keep checking our attitudes (vs. 11).

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How to Get God's Help in the Hard Times

Psalm 42:1-11

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - August 20, 2017

*The introduction to Psalm 42 says: "To the Chief Musician. A Contemplation of the Sons of Korah." The KJV says: "A Maschil for the Sons of Korah." Albert Barnes explained that "the word 'Maschil' came from the word that meant 'to look at, behold, or view in a careful way. Then wisely respond to the things you have seen." (1)

*That's why John Phillips said the "Maschil" Psalms were especially written for instruction. And this Psalm can teach us how to get God's help in the hard times. (2)

*We don't know who wrote this Psalm. It may have been one of the Sons of Korah. They were a gifted family of Levites appointed to be musicians for the Lord during the reign of King David. Some scholars think this Psalm was written by King David, and John Phillips thought it was written by King Hezekiah.

*We don't know who the writer was. But we do know that this man was going through one of the hardest times in his life. And he shows us how to get God's help in the hard times.


*The author started this Psalm with prayer. And that's the best place for us to start when we feel overwhelmed in life.


*And he told the Lord about it in his prayer:

1. . . As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God.

2. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

*Deer can run for several miles, and for short bursts they can get up to 35 miles per hour! Deer can also leap over 8 feet high and can cover over 30 feet in a single bound!

*But deer desperately need water. As Victor Yap said, "To the fleeing deer, no water means no habitat, no haven, no home and no hope, especially when they are followed, fearful or fatigued. This word 'pant' is talking about a craving, longing, hunger, thirst, or desire for something.

*And this word 'pant' is found one other place in the Bible. That's in Joel 1:20, where this same word is translated 'cry.' There the Word of God says: "The beasts of the field also cry out to You, for the water brooks are dried up, and fire has devoured the open pastures." (3)

*The Psalmist here was just that spiritually thirsty for the Lord. That's why he said: 'As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.'" Think about being that thirsty, so thirsty that your tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth, and all you can think about is water.

*Joey Mora found out what it's like to be that thirsty. In 1996, Joey was a young marine standing on the platform of an aircraft carrier patrolling the Iranian Sea. Then in a shocking accident, Joey fell overboard, and incredibly, he wasn't missed for 36 hours!

*A search and rescue mission started but was abandoned after another 24 hours. They thought no one could survive 60 hours in the ocean without a lifejacket. Joey's parents were notified that he was "missing and presumed dead."

*The rest of the story is a miracle! Four Pakistani fishermen found Joey Mora about 72 hours after he had fallen from the aircraft carrier. He had taken off his pants, tied a knot in both legs, and trapped some air in them. That was the only thing holding Joey up, and he was floating in his sleep when the men found him. Joey was delirious when they pulled him into their fishing boat. His tongue was dry and cracked, and his throat was parched.

*Two years later, he told his story to Stone Philips of NBC Dateline. Joey said it was God who kept him struggling to survive. And the most excruciating thing of all was the one thought that took over his body and pounded in his brain: "Water!" (4)

*That's how desperate this Psalmist was for God. He was so overwhelmed by his situation that he cried out for God with that kind of thirst.


*In vs. 3, he said: "My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me, '"Where is your God?''' This man was in so much emotional pain that he either could not eat at all, or he was crying so much that his tears mingled with his food.

*William MacDonald wondered: "Who can describe the bitterness of a believer who feels separated from the Lord? It is like a continual diet of tears, a life of constant misery. And if that were not enough, there is the added grief of the enemies' taunts, 'Where is your God?' That's basically the same thing the chief priests said to Jesus when he was hanging on the cross: 'He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him . . ." (Matthew 27:43)

*This Psalmist poured out his pain to the Lord. In vs. 4, he said: "When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast."

*Sometimes the pleasant memories of our past can pile more pain into our days of distress. There's a real sense of loss, and thoughts of "coulda, woulda, shoulda." That's why John Knox translated vs. 4 by saying: "Memories come back to me yet, melting the heart; how once I would join with the throng, leading the way to God's house, amid cries of joy and thanksgiving, and all the bustle of holiday." (5)

*This Psalmist desperately panted for God. Then he poured out his pain to God. And that's what we should do. In hard times, we must call on the Lord.


*That's what the Psalmist began to do in vs. 5, and he started with some questions: "Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance."

*God's "countenance" simply means His presence, but this Psalmist felt like he had been "cast down." The original word meant to throw or fling something down, and that's how this man felt in his soul.

*His soul was also "disquieted." That meant someone in great commotion, rage, or even someone at war. It meant someone in an uproar. And the word had the idea of making a loud noise, raging, roaring, or growling like an angry bear.

*That's how this writer felt in his soul. But as he reflected on who the Lord was, and all God had already done for him, he began to check his attitude. It was as if he thought: "Now wait a minute, why are you cast down, O my soul? God is always good, and He is always true to His Word. So, hope in God, and begin to praise the Lord for the help of His presence."

*I always liked Zig Ziglar. He was a very devoted Christian. And back in the 1970s through the 1990s, Zig was one of the best known motivational speakers in the country. He was hilarious. Zig Ziglar said he was the kind of optimist who would go after Moby Dick in a rowboat, -- and take a bottle of tartar sauce with him. (6)

*One of the things I remember Zig saying is this: "We need a check-up from the neck up, and we need to eliminate stinking thinking." That is exactly what the Psalmist was trying to do here in vs. 5. And quite often in life, we will need to check our attitude, especially in the hard times.


*That's what the Psalmist did in vs. 6-7:

6. O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, And from the heights of Hermon, From the Hill Mizar.

7. Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me.

*This man's troubles hadn't gone away. In vs. 6 he freely admitted this truth to the Lord: "O my God, my soul IS cast down within me." And in vs. 7, he felt like the Lord was crushing him under a waterfall: "Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me."

*J. Vernon McGee pointed out that this was the same kind of language Jonah used in his prayer. In Jonah 2:3, the runaway prophet trapped in the whale said this to the Lord: "You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the floods surrounded me; all Your billows and Your waves passed over me. (7)

*The Psalmist here felt the same way, and he freely admitted his anguish to God. But at the same time, he strongly committed that he would remember the Lord. Again in vs. 6, "O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore I will remember You. . ." Matthew Henry said, "The way to forget our miseries, is to remember the God of our mercies." And that is very wise advice. (8)

*In hard times, we must commit ourselves to the Lord's care.


*That's what this man did in the first part of vs. 8. He said, "The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime." Not the Lord "might" or the Lord "could," but the Lord "WILL command His lovingkindness" to me. That's faith! And we can have total faith in the Lord! He will command His lovingkindness in our lives!

*The Lord's lovingkindness is very important to Him. We know this is true, because God included this word 247 times in the Old Testament! For example, in Psalm 40:11, David lifted up this prayer to the Lord: "Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord; Let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me." Then in Psalm 51:1, David prayed: "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions."

*God's "lovingkindness:" Most of the time the original word is translated as "mercy." Sometimes it is translated as "goodness," "pity," or just plain "kindness." So, God's "lovingkindness" is His eternal, unchangeable love. It's His abundant mercy, grace, kindness and devotion.

*In Psalm 36:5 this word for "lovingkindness" is translated as "mercy." There, David said: "Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds."

*John Phillips explained, "God's lovingkindness is as high as Heaven. And His faithfulness soars to the skies! It cannot be matched. How high is Heaven? Where does the sky end? God would have to betray His own character if He let down anyone trusting in His love. His love stands alone, unique, unsurpassed. There's nothing like it in the universe." (9)

*The Lord's merciful lovingkindness is best seen on the cross of Christ, and it reaches all the way to Heaven for those who trust in the Lord! Thank God for His lovingkindness! And have total faith in the Lord. In hard times, we need to confess our faith in God.


*That's what the writer of this Psalm did. He was still in pain, but he didn't give up. He was determined to keep calling on the Lord. And sometimes he prayed to God with a song. In vs. 8-10, he said:

8. The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

9. I will say to God my Rock, "Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?''

10. As with a breaking of my bones, My enemies reproach me, While they say to me all day long, "Where is your God?''

*Christians: We know that the Rock in vs. 9 is Jesus Christ! He is the Rock of our Salvation! And we can praise the Lord as David did in Psalm 18:1-3:

1. I will love You, O Lord, my strength.

2. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

3. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.

*Then in Psalm 18:31, David asked: "For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?" Here in vs. 8-10, the Psalmist continued to pray to the Rock of our Salvation. And again, he said:

8. The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

9. I will say to God my Rock, "Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?''

10. As with a breaking of my bones, My enemies reproach me, While they say to me all day long, "Where is your God?''

*This man was still in pain, but he was determined to keep praying to God. And God wants us to be persistent in our prayers! That's what Jesus tells us to do in Luke 11:9: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."

*Bible scholars tell us that the original language here means not to do something just once, but to do it, and keep on doing it. Jesus is telling us: "Don't give up! Ask and keep on asking! Seek and keep on seeking! Knock and keep on knocking! Don't give up!"

*God wants us to be persistent in our prayers! George Mueller certainly was. Born in 1805, George Mueller was one of the greatest prayer warriors of all time. He kept an amazing prayer journal over his long life that recorded 50,000 answers to prayer.

*Dr. A. T. Pierson talked with George Mueller shortly before he died in 1898. Dr. Pierson asked Mueller if any of his prayers had not been answered. George replied yes, for 62 years he had prayed for two men who were still not saved.

*Pierson then asked: "Do you expect God to convert them?" Mueller replied, "Certainly. Do you suppose that God would put upon His child for 62 years the burden of two souls if He had not purpose of their salvation? I shall certainly meet them in Heaven."

*After Mueller died, Dr. Pierson was preaching in Bristol, England, and he told about their conversation. After church was over, a lady came up to Dr. Pierson and said: "One of those men was my uncle. He was saved shortly before he died a few weeks ago." The other man lived in Dublin, and he was also won to the Lord. (10)

*George Mueller never gave up praying for those men. And we should never give up on our prayers. God wants us to be persistent in our prayers. Especially in hard times, we need to keep calling on the Lord.


*Once is not enough, so in vs. 11, the Psalmist repeated the same thing he had said back up in vs. 5: "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."

[1] NOTICE HIS QUESTIONS: "Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?"

*When bad things happen, we want to ask "Why?" And sometimes we think that's wrong. But there are many places in God's Word where we see people ask why. We find the "why" question 63 times in the Book of Job, and 66 times in the Psalms. This short Psalm has more "why" questions than any other Psalm in the Bible. (11)

*It's also good to remember that Jesus asked why. When He was on the cross, in Matthew 27:46, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying: "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?'' that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?''

*Our wonderful Savior was willing to walk in our shoes. He was even willing to go through the same kind of confusion we go through. Why? Why is this terrible thing happening to me? Why did I lose my job? Why did I get sick? Why is my loved one sick? Why did that wreck happen? Why did they die so soon? Why is my family messed up?

*Once I heard from a young Christian going through a tough family problem. She was frustrated with God, and wondered why things were going wrong. One thing I told her was that it is okay to ask "why?" We know this is true because Jesus asked "why?" on the cross. And He never did anything wrong.

*The problem with asking why is that many times we won't get an answer in this world. That's why a wise man said that a better question is: "What now? What should I do now, Lord?" I told that struggling Christian that over time, God would surely show her the answer to this question.


*It's at the end of vs. 11, where the Psalmist said: "Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God." The answer for our downcast souls is to take a long look up at our Savior!

*William Heslop told the old story of a boy who began to serve on a large sailing ship. The first time he went up the main mast, the boy looked down and began to get very dizzy. He was in great danger of falling to his death. But then he heard the old captain thunder: "Look up!" -- "Look up!" The boy did. Then he was able to safely get back down. (12)


*The answer for our downcast souls is a long look up at our Savior! That's why Isaiah 26:3 declares: "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." The hard times will come, but God shows us what to do: Most of all, keep looking up at the Lord.

(1) Adapted from Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible by Albert Barnes 1798-1870 - Psalm 32:1-11

(2) "Exploring the Psalms" by John Phillips, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids - Psalm 42

(3) Sources:

-How fast can a deer run (The Answer Will Amaze You) - Hunting Guide By Chuck Johnson September 14, 2017 -

-How high can deer jump? - Mark Kayser - October 13, 2017 -

-Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "Hope in God" by Victor Yap - Psalm 42:1-8 - 02042017

(4) Sources:

-Marine Survives 36 Hours At Sea - Inflates Uniform Into Life Preserver After Falling Overboard - November 30, 1995 By Knight-RidderTribune - http:articles.chicagotribune.com1995-11-30news9511300155_1_arabian-sea-marine-corps-marine-lance-cpl

-SermonCentral sermon "A Drink for a Dehydrated Soul" by Ryan Johnson - John 4:4-14, John 7:37 - 03062002

-SermonCentral sermon "Stay Thirsty My Friends" by Jeffrey Smead - John 4:5-15, John 7:37, Psalms 42:1, Psalms 63:1, Matthew 5:6 - 03212014

(5) Adapted from Believer's Bible Commentary by William MacDonald - Edited by Arthur Farstad - Thomas Nelson Publishers - Nashville - Copyright 1995 - II. Book 2: Psalms 42–72 - Psalm 42:1-11 - Thirsting for God

(6) sermon "Dare to Dream" - Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:1-21

(7) THRU THE BIBLE COMMENTARY by J. Vernon McGee - Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville - Copyright 1981 - Psalms 42:6-7

(8) Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible - Psalm 42:6-11

(9) Adapted from EXPLORING PSALMS by John Phillips, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids - "The Righteousness of God’s Throne" - Psalm 36:5-6

(10) Adapted from -- A. T. Pierson from "Signs of the Times," Copyright Pacific Press, December 3, 1912. - Source: 05302004 email from

(11) SermonCentral sermon "Hope in God" by Victor Yap - Psalm 42:1-8 - 02042017

(12) Sermon Seeds from the Psalms by William G. Heslop - Copyright 1956 - THE HIGLEY PRESS Indiana - Psalms Forty to Forty-Nine -

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