As the deer pants for the water brooks, 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? My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me, “Where is your God?”
I think we all can agree that there are different kinds or levels of thirst. While thirst should be about hydration, we crave certain drinks for other reasons. I do not drink coffee to be hydrated. If I am thirsty for a milkshake, it is because of that sweet flavor. Some will find refreshment in an alcoholic beverage that serves to alter their mind but really can dehydrate the body. It might be rare for a lot of us ever to talk about thirst the way it is discussed in this passage. We know that water is necessary for every function of the body, and we know that we cannot live without it, but few of us likely have been faced with the prospect of death because of unquenched thirst.
The deer spoken of here live in a rather arid area. When they dip their tongues into the water for a sip, it is no babbling brook. Travel around the Dead Sea, look at the ibex scaling the rocky crags, and you will see the reality of this picture. Those precious animals are trying to gain necessary hydration from very small brooks and streams. Vegetation is scarce because water is scarce. This is the kind of thirst you experience in a desert without water waiting for you in the refrigerator or down the street at the store. This is the kind of thirst that makes you forget about everything else in life because your priority is survival. Our spiritual thirst for God and the things of his kingdom should be this great.
We must ask ourselves when we last truly panted and thirsted for that sweet spiritual drink from God. The question is whether we realize how necessary quenching this spiritual thirst is. The longing of the soul for the God who created it certainly is a matter of life. In him, we live: there is no other sustenance for us. Without him, we die. In fact, we already are spiritually dead before deciding whether to follow him. This water that He provides is so incredible that it not only sustains us but actually brings us to life and is as necessary as the air we breathe. Father, if we have not arrived there yet, bring us to the place where we thirst for You as those who cannot live otherwise.