“My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?” (Ps. 42:3).
“As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?” (Ps. 42:10).
Psalm 42 is a song of great emotion. It addresses the deep longing to “come and appear before God” (Ps. 42:2). It addresses the deep yearning of the soul for the only one who can satisfy; namely, God (cf. Ps. 42:1). The soul of the psalmist is suffering from the oppression of the enemy (cf. Ps. 42:9). The enemy is cutting deep “as with a sword in my bones” (Ps. 42:10) with words that challenge the very faith of the faithful. The question of “where is thy God” (Ps. 42:3, 10) does not cause the faithful to lose his faith but only to know that God will answer in the proper time. Consider three types of people who would ask such a question to the faithful.
- The Question of the Skeptic. Skepticism is the philosophy that holds to doubt even in the face of evidence. The Pharaoh of Egypt who would not let Israel go until his nation was almost destroyed is a prime example of this kind of thinking. When Moses first approached Pharaoh about letting Israel go, Pharaoh stated, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go” (Ex. 5:2). Such would change in a matter of time (cf. Ex. 12:31) only to bring about more destruction to his army in the Red Sea. The agnostic and atheistic circles of today would easily fit into the thinking of such a questioning Pharaoh.
- The Question of the Scoffer. The psalms and the prophets are filled with the question of “where is thy God?” It is written, “We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us” (Ps. 79:4). Then follows these words, “Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servants which is shed” (Ps. 79:10). Read also Psalm 115:1-3; Joel 2:17; Micah 7:10 in their contexts. Peter wrote of some like unto these, where he wrote, “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4). Scoffing is a low form of indirectly criticizing God while challenging God’s people.
- The Question of the Simple. Here is the bottom line of skepticism and scoffing: ignorance. Ignorance coupled with impatience causes one to ask questions that are foolish in nature. Sometimes people ask where God is when human suffering arises. Sometimes people ask where God is when they do not get what they ask for from God. Sometimes people ask where God is when they are looking for a “sign” as to what direction to go. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, God was in heaven ready to care for his life in the resurrection. When Jesus was hungry in the wilderness, God was in heaven ready to send angels to minister to his needs after the temptation by Satan (cf. Matt. 4:11). The more one has an overview of the scope of the Bible concerning God, the more confident one is in knowing that God does not leave nor forsake (cf. Heb. 13:5).