Psalm 42 pictures the world of the Banias River, one of the three sources of the Jordan River. The Banias rises in the Golan Heights, near the site of ancient Caesarea Philippi, and flows through what is now a National Reserve. It is possibly the most beautiful spot in Israel. The Banias has several beautiful cascades and the water moves swiftly. Because of this, it is both clean and cool.
Jesus spent at least a little time in this area (Matthew 16:13-20), and unlike many of us modern believers, he would have been familiar with the connection between this area and Psalm 42. The heart of this psalm was his heart as well.
If you take a few minutes to read Psalm 42, you will undoubtedly be struck by the beauty of its natural setting as well as its somewhat glum central verse: “Why are you downcast, 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. ” (vv 5-6, repeated in v 11)
It is the nature of flowing water to churn. What is cast down is once again brought to the surface. This is the nature of its continual movement and renewal.
Did Jesus go to Banias at a time of difficulty? Was it a spiritual retreat where he was able to renew his heart? We do not like to think of Jesus in these human terms, but the Scriptures beg us to do so.
Let us join our Lord in the retreat to the flowing waters which churn our souls and bring us back to the surface renewed and strengthened. Let us long for the moving work of God within us that teaches us to again hope in the Lord.