Psalm 42: I Can’t Get No Satisfaction
Ethicist Richard Mouw was asked by some clergy friends to attend a Rolling Stones concert, supposedly to do some theological reflection on popular culture.
So, there they were: a group of middle-age pastors on the Voodoo Lounge tour, calling their teenage children and holding up their cell phones so their kids would believe that their dads were really there.
One pastor asked Mouw, “There are 85,000 people here; more than will be in all the churches of town this Sunday. What would say to them if you had the chance?”
Mouw had no idea – until Mick Jagger started singing the Stone’s signature song, and 85,000 people started chanting, “I can’t get no satisfaction (But I try…)”
Mick Jagger and 85,000 fans were only saying what the psalmist discovered 3,000 years earlier; namely, that there is an eternity of difference between gratifying our appetites and satisfying our souls.
There’s an eternity of difference between the things we find desirable and the one thing we actually desire. Great food, great fun, endless wealth, and enormous power may feed a hunger, but they do not feed The Hunger.
So, what is the thirst in you that will not be satisfied? When you come to the end of life’s concert, and you still “can’t get no satisfaction,” what then?
Psalm 42 is the first psalm written in a style known as lament. Think of a lament as a “crying song” that teaches deeper lessons. Lament is not a particularly popular song style, but it is an extraordinary prayer style.
And Psalm 42 laments feeling separated from God. The Psalmist says, "I want to go into the presence of God. The one fundamental hunger of my life is to know God."
This psalm brings us face-to-face with both our essential ache and its only answer, and that is the presence of the God. We may want lots of things – a second chance, recovery from illness, a way to explain a bounced check to a spouse, maybe just a little quiet. We may want lots of things.
But what we really want is God.
The only answer is to live your life within hearing distance, speaking distance, and knowing distance of God.
Dr. Charles Anderson is Senior Pastor of Clearlake United Methodist Church near Houston, Texas. If you are ever in the area, Charles and his congregation would love to have you come worship with them.
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