as the deer pants for water
The Worship Lifestyle

Revival for a Dying Spirit: The Powerful Truth Behind “As the Deer Pants for Water”

Every believer goes through seasons on their faith journey that are similar to those in the natural world – stormy seasons, seasons of harvest and plenty, seasons of fresh growth and long, hot dry seasons. Your faith will survive and thrive the mountains and valleys, but you’ll need to pull refreshment from Living Water. As the deer pants for water, your soul needs more of God.

“As the deer pants after the water brooks, so my soul pants after You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…” (Psalm 42:1-2 MEV)

Did you know that a deer panting for water isn’t thirsty or overheated? Dogs pant on a hot day, but deer do not. (Generally speaking, deer get a great deal of their water from the food they eat – up to 90% in some cases, so they don’t often go hunting for water and they can go long periods without a water source.)

So, if it was common knowledge that deer don’t “pant” like dogs do when they are hot, why would the Psalmist write “…as a deer pants for water so my soul pants after You, O God…”?

The Real Reason a Deer Pants for Water

Psalm 42 is an emotionally-charged outpouring of raw desperation from a writer experiencing a very difficult season just like everyone walks through on their faith journey. But what makes the difference between faith and failure is how those difficulties are processed – in light of the firm conviction of the goodness, mercy, and power of a loving God.

The writer of Psalm 42 (one of the sons of Korah) felt like he had become frantic and gasping and filled with anxiety and fear. Do you ever feel like this?

  • “…tears have been my food day and night…”
  • “…With shattering in my bones, those harassing me mock me saying, “Where is your God?…”
  • …I pour out my soul within me…”
  • “…I say to God, “Why have you forgotten me?”…”
  • “…my soul is cast down within me…”

This desperate worshipper noted he felt he had become “as the deer” – why? Because a deer only pants when it is being chased by a predator.

As soon as a deer escapes from the enemy and knows it is safe, it will immediately look for water to replenish its depleted inner stores. However, if a deer runs for too long from an enemy and cannot get to water, the panting will lead to inevitable dehydration and the deer will collapse and die.

In Psalm 63, David wrote, “…my soul thirsts for You, my flesh faints for You, in a dry and thirsty land with no water … [but] when I meditate on You in the night [therefore] in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.” (MEV) When your soul is exhausted and your spirit is dry, only the Living Water of the Holy Spirit can revive you.

“…I lift my hands in Your name…and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,” David said. (Psalm 63:4-5 MEV) Praise and worship will keep you connected to the source of spiritual refreshment that will help you survive this difficult season.

Writing words like, “As the deer pants for water so my soul pants for You O Lord,” shows that this son of Korah had come to the end of himself spiritually, emotionally, and physically and he was becoming exhausted, worn out and depleted from being pursued by the enemy. Inside of his soul, he had reached the point where he wanted to give up, lay down and and die.

But that isn’t what he did. With the very last of what he had to give, he ran just a little bit further… to the Lord.

Thought for today: Living Water Will Refresh Your Spirit and Your Soul

The Psalmist of Psalm 42 wrote, Yet the Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song will be with me, a prayer to the God of my life.” (Psalm 42:8) Unlike a deer being pursued by an enemy who must then hunt for water, the Psalmist, a worshipper of the Lord Most High, knew exactly where to go to replenish his exhausted spirit.

He praised and worshipped and survived on Living Water. Did he feel like it? Most definitely he did not. But that’s not how faith works and that isn’t the point of praise. The point of origin for praise is gratitude. Praise and worship fix your eyes on Jesus, the Author of your faith and only He can help you in your darkest seasons.

The son of Korah that wrote Psalm 42 commanded his soul to put hope in the Lord and praise Him saying to himself, “…Wait for God; I will yet thank Him, for He is my deliverance and my God.” (Psalm 42:11)

The victory of Psalm 42 is seen in the words that are written before anything changed, while the pains and fears and trials were still unfolding, but even amid the raw emotions, this son of Korah refused to put his trust in anyone but God. He acknowledged his feelings and then forced them into subjection to his faith in the Lord. That is true victory!

Worship while you wait. In a dry season, when your spirit is thirsty, the enemy will run you ragged, but if you have Living Water flowing through your spirit – YOU CAN PURSUE THE LORD AND OUT RUN THE ENEMY! Worship is a spiritual discipline so you must rule over your flesh with your faith and worship the Lord “as the deer pants for water” to replenish your dying spirit, and you’ll find the strength to continue on!

Resources to Strengthen Your Faith in the Lord:

“When the Enemy Comes in Like a Flood, Walk on Dry Ground”

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Don’t forget to pick up a copy of The Way of the Worshipper on Amazon – and AVAILABLE NOW you can also purchase The Way of the Worshipper: A Devotional Workbook for deeper study, personal examination and spiritual growth!