Just as the deer longs for running streams, YHWH, I long for you. I am thirsty for YHWH, for the living [One]! When can I come and appear before YHWH? My tears are my food, day and night, while all day people ask me, ‘Where is your elohim?’ I recall, as my feelings well up within me, how I’d go with the crowd to the house of YHWH, with sounds of joy and praise from the throngs observing the festival.” (Psalms 42:1-4)
In this passage a psalmist is exclaiming
adoration for the presence of YHWH. He compares the deer’s thirst for water to his thirst for intimacy with YHWH, and then is almost in tears when remembering the last time that he went to the Temple, which was during a Holy feast.
Most of us know this verse because of the popular hymnal “As the Deer” written by Martin J. Nystrom in 1981. I have always liked this verse. For some reason, reading it gives me peace. I started thinking a few days ago, “Why did the psalmist use a deer in this verse for the analogy?” After all, almost every animal gets thirsty. Even humans get thirsty, so the psalmist could have possibly used himself as an example. (Note: I am not trying to blaspheme or re-write the Bible. I am curious why the deer is used in relation to thirst.) For the next few days at Sacred Apparel, we will analyze this popular verse, using Biblical, biological, and even deer hunting sources to help complete our understanding.