Day 140: The Sweet Spot of Prayer Time: Deep Calls to Deep (Psalm 42)

Through the Bible Reading: Psalm 5, 38, 41, 42

Hank Aaron in 1974, Getty Images

7 Deep calls to deep
    at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
    have gone over me.
8 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 42:7-8

In baseball, there’s the idea of hitting the sweet spot. It’s when the player makes contact with the dead center of the ball with the fattest part of the bat over the middle of the plate at the at the maximum peak of his swing. When all those factors come together, it’s goodbye, Mr. Spalding. Sportscasters often refer to it as “going deep.”

In Psalm 42, David describes going deep with God. He finds the sweet spot. Now, It isn’t necessarily a place he wants to be. He is probably in exile, no longer able to go”with the throng to the house of God” (v. 4). He is writing from the other side of the Jordan River, “from the land of Jordan and of Hermon” (v. 6). Scholars connect this Psalm to the period of David’s life in which he fled Jerusalem after Absalom’s coup. His soul is cast down and in turmoil. His tears have become his food day and night (v. 3). His enemies are attacking him and his foes are taunting him. He wonders if God has forgotten him.

And this is when he finds the sweet spot.

Deep calls to deep
    at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
    have gone over me.

The Hebrew word for “deep” here refers to the deepest known depths of the sea. It’s the same word Jonah used in his prayer from the belly of the fish.

“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress,
    and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
    and you heard my voice.
3 For you cast me into the deep,
    into the heart of the seas,
    and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
    passed over me.
Jonah 2:3

By the way, did you notice how Jonah used almost the exact same language of Psalm 42? This isn’t a coincidence. Jonah knew Scripture, and he quoted this prayer, from the belly of a fish! Talk about having God’s Word in your heart!

So deep calling out to deep is when someone’s deepest need is met by God’s deepest grace. When the profound depth of our distress is answered by the unfathomable depth of God’s love for us. This is the sweet spot.

I love this quote from the GotQuestions article on Psalm 42:7:

“The deep of man’s need calleth unto the deep of God’s fulness; and the deep of God’s fulness calleth unto the deep of man’s need. Between our emptiness and His all-sufficiency there is a great gulf. . . . Deep calleth unto deep. The deep mercy of God needs our emptiness, into which it might pour itself. . . . Nothing can fully meet the depth of our need but the depth of His Almighty fulness”

James Smith and Robert Lee, Handfuls of Purpose for Christian Workers and Bible Students, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1971. Vol. 8, p. 11

The picture I put at the top of this blog is of when my childhood hero Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s record. Hammerin’ Hank went deep 755 times in his career. And he did it without performance enhancing drugs. Which is why he’s in the Hall of Fame, while other players with more home runs are not. There are no short cuts to finding the sweet spot. It comes from discipline, longevity, and hours and hours of batting practice.

Hitting that sweet spot with the Lord doesn’t come easy either. We rarely get to the point of “deep calling out to deep” when things are going great in our lives. Maybe it takes being estranged from your family. Maybe it takes facing the consequences of your sin. This is what it took for David. Maybe it takes getting swallowed by a fish, like it did for Jonah.

But when you get to the end of yourself, when you’ve run as far as you can, sunk as low as you can, and hit the bottom of rock bottom, that’s when deep really calls out to deep.

And paradoxically, that’s the sweet spot.

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