Archive for June 13th, 2010
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God? Psalm 42:2
Thirsts – It’s dry today. The heat of the noonday sun bakes the earth that made me. The ‘adamah that bore me is cracked, parched and turning to dust. I hear David’s lament deep within my own fragile and empty vessel. Tsamah naphshi le elohim (My nephesh – my person – thirsts for Elohim). Notice that the verb comes first. Tsame means to be intensely thirsty. The pictograph is “desire for water first.” This is thirst above all else. Anyone living in a desert climate (like the children of Israel) needs no further explanation.
It would be nice to know something about the deer David mentions, but some deer native to Israel became extinct early in the 20th Century. We may never know what characteristics of this animal so impressed David that he used it in this powerful metaphor. But we can imagine what it is like to search for water in the wilderness of Israel. If you’ve been there, you know that water is more valuable than gold. There is a good reason to put this verb first in the sentence. This physical/emotional/spiritual need must take over every act and every decision.
While we can conjure up images of desert thirst, most of us are far too sated to have any true appreciation for this metaphorical comparison. Our lives are not enslaved to the demand of any kind of thirst. We have enough to eat. We drink often. We have homes. We have friends and finances. We are filled. And that condition makes thirsting after God all the more difficult. Our needs are almost insignificant, certainly banal, compared to the cracked dirt of our real condition before the Holy One of Israel. But we quickly substitute physical satisfaction for spiritual stagnation. We thirst for more of what we already have, not for more of what He offers. Our experience of fulfillment comes when we lap up temporary relief, not when we bow face down in abject poverty of spirit. Perhaps the kind of person who thirsts for God is now just as extinct as the desert deer. Slain by the clamor of sensual abundance, the thirst for God evaporates with the last puddle in the oasis.
How shall we return to the wilderness and recapture that thirst, that overwhelming desire to be in His presence? How shall we cut through the detritus of our over-indulged lives in order to experience what it means to be dried up without Him? What shall we do to fight the faulty and seductive distractions? Do you know? Is there some small dryness in the depths of your being that might be allowed to dehydrate those seductive mirages that keep us from real thirst? I hope so. I hope that simply considering the salt-edged taste around the edges will be enough to move us, to draw us closer to the one who offers living water.
Topical Index: thirst, tsame, Psalm 42:2