Deep Calls To Deep: A Study in Calvinistic Spirituality

“My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. My soul is cast down within me; Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Sections of Psalm 42 ESV)

I’ve been, predominately, an Arminist in my spirituality. (Arminius was a theologian who focused on the free will of man in creating their spirituality) Recently, God has been doing some things in my life and in the lives of many who I am close to, that relate more to Calvinism. (John Calvin was a theologian who taught that God’s will controls the circumstances in our lives and our personal will matters little) (1) It is my opinion that the two positions are neither diametrically opposed, as church history has tended to make them, nor are they necessarily mutually exclusive, also as the church has tended to make them. Be all of that as it may, I’m progressively embracing more Calvinistic spirituality. (2) What I mean by Calvinistic spirituality is “God orchestrating circumstances in our lives to bring us into a position where we will do His will.” He is a really Big and Smart. He knows the hearts of people and how they will respond in a given set of circumstances. This is what I will define as Calvinistic spirituality. Let’s come back to this in a minute.

In Psalm 42 (sections of which are quoted above), the Psalmist is very depressed. He is “pouring out his soul”, and is “downcast” and crying. We are not told of the circumstances surrounding this depression; but, a solution is offered. The Hebrew word for “deep”, in the Psalm, generally refers to the deepest part of a body of water. (Hence, the references to water in the rest of that verse.) It can also mean the “deep part.” So, how is it that deep calls to deep? It is evident in the Psalm that the “deepest part” of man is calling out to the “deepest part” of God. When the heart of man touches the heart of God, things get shaken up in both the physical and the spiritual realm. It is my opinion that God desires this and, using my new found Calvinistic spirituality, orchestrates circumstances, occasionally, in our lives where the deep of us calls to the deep of Him. Today, I found a biblical example.

In the opening chapters of I Samuel, we read of a woman named Hannah. She is married to a man who has two wives. One of them, Penniah, has children and Hannah, the other wife is barren. Two times the text tells the source of her barrenness. It states, “the Lord closed her womb.” (I Samuel 1: 5&6) As a result of the Lord’s action, she is provoked by her rival, the other wife. In ancient times, a barren woman was considered cursed. She would’ve been seen as a social outcast. This, of course, greatly distressed her. She gets depressed and she is stirred in her deepest parts. At the yearly sacrifice, her deepest parts can no longer take it. She arises from the festive meal and the deepest part of woman calls to the deepest part of God. She pours out her soul to God and, in doing so, is accused of drinking by the High Priest. She informs him that she is not drunk but she is praying out of the depths of her soul. He, in turn, speaks blessing over her. She arises from the prayer with a sense of release about the matter and returns to the festive meal contented and eats. Shortly thereafter, she gets pregnant and has a son. That son is Samuel. In Hebrew, the name means “heard of God.” She names him a name that describes what takes place when the deep of humans call to the deep of God. He hears and He acts. It is my supposition, that God set all of this up. He is the One that closed her womb. He is the One that put her in a position of adversity from her rival. He is the One that caste her in the social light as being “cursed.” What could be His motive, a Samuel.

Samuel was not birthed by chance. He was prayed into existence when God ordained circumstances in the life of Hannah, knowing how she would respond, where the deepest parts of her would call out to the deepest part of God and give occasion for God to act and birth a Samuel. The prophet and priest. God ordained all of this. Thus, Hannah happened to be on the receiving end of Calvinistic spirituality.

What can we learn from all of this? The next time we find ourselves in an emotional pickle, it may very well be that God has ordained these circumstances. Why, to birth something great our of the deepest part of me calling out to the deepest part of Him.


1. It is not my intention to delve deeply into the doctrines of either camp here. My superficial parenthetical note does neither Arminius nor Calvin justice. Anyone wishing further information is encouraged to Google either name, and a wealth of information will follow. Wikipedia has good stuff on both.

2. By spirituality I mean the way that I live out my theology. Thus Calvinistic spirituality looks for the hand of God in adverse circumstances.