Psalm 42—How to Stand in Hope When Cast Down

Psalm 42—How to Stand in Hope When Cast Down

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” Psalm 42:5

Since this “Why-are-you-cast-down” question is probably not a rhetorical question, I’ll tell you why. I’ll answer it. And I’ll use words straight out of Psalm 42 to answer this appropriate “why” question.

You’re thirsting for relief. There are unavoidable tears. Turmoil rules the day. It seems you’ve been forgotten. There is uncontrollable mourning. An oppression descends upon you. Yours resembles a deadly wound. It’s as if the world turns to taunting.

That’s why the psalmist is cast down.

The psalmist nails the grief experience when he cries out to God, because sometimes you are force-fed tears.

“My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, ‘Where is your God?’” Psalm 42:3

Being cast down resembles abandonment. “Where is your God?” It feels like you’ve been abandoned; and it looks to those watching like you’ve been abandoned. You’re on a lonely stage.

So, where do you turn? If God has seemingly cast you down or even allowed you to be cast down, what then? Where do you turn? The question is one David faced. It’s a question the disciples faced in the New Testament. And it’s a question humanity continues to face.

“After this many of his disciples…no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed…’” John 6:66-69

Peter knows Jesus has the words of eternal life in John 6. So, where would he go? David asks the “why” question and provides the answer in Psalm 42. He asks, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” But then he provides this answer: “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation…” (Psalm 42:5). The best response when cast down is to turn toward God and not away from him. Turn toward the people of God and things of God and not away from them.

“By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.” Psalm 42:8

The mistake is to believe that we are promised a rose garden, an easy life. Once it is settled that the sun shines and the rain falls on the just and the unjust, we can take the long view and press into God and his redemptive arc. Face loss, face persecution, face difficulties, and expect a hard road. A road from cast down to hope. He will sustain you and meet you in the pain. He commands his steadfast love to be our companion.

“Give me a stout heart to bear my own burdens. Give me a willing heart to bear the burdens of others. Give me a believing heart to cast our burdens upon thee.” John Baillie, A Diary of Private Prayer

His song will be with us in the night. Night is still present. Difficulties remain. But his love and song accompany us on a difficult road headed toward hope.

Put on a stout heart, a willing heart, and a believing heart. If you’re cast down, hope in God. You will praise him again.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 42:11

“For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?” Romans‬ ‭8:24


  1. What a blessing to read your posts. I am a Ministry Coach with Church Initiative and have had the pleasure of working with Slater Davis, through our program GriefShare. He sent me your website today. Like all who are in this unwanted club, I have struggled at times (more early on than now) with the losses that have placed me where I am today. God is good, and faithful, and even when I wondered if He was all the things I said He was, He patiently reminded me He is… because HE says so, not because I do.

    • D. Ray Davis

      Thank you for commenting, Sarah. I understand completely. I’m glad you’re in GriefShare. It helped me, as well. I even wrote one entry about GriefShare

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