Psalm 42:1 (ESV) … “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.”
The psalm opens with a cry wrung out of the psalmist’s innermost soul. Due to his sickness he was cut off from the Temple he had renovated and restored: “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?”
How many excuses people invent for absenting themselves from the place of public worship and the corporate fellowship of God’s people. Economic pressure may be such that they must have two jobs, and they become too busy or too tired for meeting with the people of God.
Or is it that we have gone too far in worldliness? Where our fathers saw the world as a battleground we see it as a playground, where they went out to engage the world as a foe, we go out to embrace the world as a friend. We have its pleasures piped into our homes and we become so seduced by the world that we excuse ourselves from the gathering together of the people of God.
No wonder the Holy Spirit warns us: “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.” He warns expressly that the last days will come equipped with special spiritual perils for the saint of God, not least of which is absence from the gatherings of God’s people.
Not so Hezekiah! He loved the meeting place of God’s own and when cut off from it he grieved and felt his soul shriveling up. He panted after the things of God like a mountain deer after the water brooks.