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二○一九年十一月十一月二十三日/十一月二十四日                                                                   Click here for English version

如鹿切慕溪水

周曉暉牧師

提起「切慕、渴慕」,就會想起《如鹿切慕溪水》(As the Deer)這首詩歌:

        神啊,我的心切慕你,如鹿切慕溪水。
        惟有你是我心所愛,我渴慕來敬拜你。

詩歌旋律優美,柔和平靜,令人感到「切慕」好像是件浪漫事,致使這首詩歌成為靈修、退修的金曲。

翻開舊約聖經,「切慕」原來只出現在兩段經文中,其一是詩篇四十二篇,這正是上述詩歌引用的來源。如果讀過詩篇四十二篇全首詩歌,就會看到當中訴說的艱辛情景,調子毫不浪漫。另一處用上「切慕」的經文,是約珥書一章20:「田野的走獸向你發喘(原文正是「切慕」),因為溪水乾涸,火也燒滅曠野的草場。」

這兩處所呈現的圖畫,非但不是「我掛住你,我愛慕你」的詩情畫意,更是一幅乾旱無水的災難情景——一隻鹿或動物,四處尋找,張口喘息,期望找到一丁點水,緩解苦楚。加上約珥書接連描繪的景象,基調都很陰沉,表達著一種不見天日的晦暗,是神子民無力扭轉和挽救的大災難。受災的動物尚且知道要「切慕」神,神的子民豈不更是如此?

坦白說,我們不常切慕神。當生命中遇到苦困、家庭遭難、甚至經歷香港巨變和前景不明朗、大家不知道如何走下去、周圍彌漫著強烈情緒的時候,正正就是我們要切慕神的時刻。

上主吩咐我們:「雖然如此,你們應當禁食、哭泣、悲哀,一心歸向我。」(珥二 12)「雖然如此」本由三個字詞組成:「但」、「就算是」、「如今」,意指即使到了如斯田地,我們仍要作以下的事:「一心歸向」祂,是全心全意、義無反顧、毫無保留地,直奔向上主——如鹿切慕溪水。

今天,我們經歷著前所未見的困難,這固然驅使我們不斷思索要尋覓解決之道,然而,作為神的子民,我們卻要刻意來到上主面前,「你們要在錫安吹角,分定禁食的日子,宣告嚴肅會。」(珥二 15)

誠然,要放下自己的期許、想法和計劃,殊不容易。但聖經提醒我們要與世人不同,在地震天動、日月昏暗、星宿無光的年日,我們要有「分別為聖」的回應(這正是「分定」的意思)。在四處張望之際,我們要重拾君尊祭司的身分,專注、自潔和自省,持續地代表社會,直奔到神面前,切慕祂正如鹿切慕溪水一樣。




Pastor's Sharing
As the Deer Pants for Water
Rev Arnold Chow

The words "pant" or "long for" bring to my mind the hymn "As the Deer":

        As the deer panteth for the water
        So my soul longeth after Thee
        You alone are my heart's desire
        And I long to worship Thee

It is a beautiful, calm and mellow tune, and it makes the panting somewhat romantic. Perhaps that is why the hymn is a favorite for devotionals and retreats.

In the Old Testament, the word "pant" appears in Psalm 42 and Joel 1. But if you read Psalm 42, which is the source of the above lyrics, you will find that the environment portrayed there is much more difficult than romantic.

In Joel 1:20 where the word "pant" is also used, the Bible says: "Even the wild animals pant for you; the streams of water have dried up and fire has devoured the pastures in the wilderness."

The picture depicted in the two Bible passages is far from poetic, not the "I miss you, I long for you" type. It is one of drought and disaster: A deer or some animal looks for water everywhere gasping, with its mouth wide open for just a drop of water. Coupled with the descriptions that follow in Joel, the basic tone is one of gloom – one in which no light of day is in sight. The people of God are powerless in the face of the impending disaster. But if a victim, an animal, knows it should "pant for" God, shouldn't the people of God do the same?

Frankly speaking, we do not always long for God. When difficulties arise and families suffer, when the city is hit by a radical change, the future becomes uncertain with no way out in sight, and when vigorous sentiments abound, that is exactly when we need to long for God.

The Lord declares, "Even now…return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning" (Joel 2:12). The literal translation of "even now" is "yet," "even so" and "now," meaning that even under such dreadful circumstances, we still need to return to God "with all your heart." That means doing so wholeheartedly, with no regrets and no reservation. We run to the Lord just like deer dashing towards a stream of water.

Today, we are going through difficulties we have never known. This of course prompts us to continue to seek a solution. Meanwhile, being the people of God, we need to make a conscious effort to come before the Lord. "Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly" (Joel 2:15).

It is never easy to put aside one's expectations and promises, thinking and plans. But the Bible exhorts us to act differently from the world. When the earth shakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine, let us set ourselves apart. Let us consecrate and sanctify ourselves. In all the uncertainty, let us resume the identity of a royal priesthood. Let us remain focused, sanctified and reflective and consistently represent our society to run towards God. Let us long for Him just like deer panting for water.