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As the Deer

As the Deer

As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul longs after You;
You alone are my heart's desire and I long to worship You.

You're my friend and You are my brother, even though You are a king,
I love You more than any other, so much more than anything.

I want You more than gold or silver, only You can satisfy;
You alone are the real joy giver and the apple of my eye.


You are my strength and my shield, my spirit's willing to yield to You;
You alone are my heart's desire and I long to worship You.

This song is a popular praise song from a series that has been well-received for nearly twenty years. God is our strength and shield, our friend and brother, and only He can satisfy our hearts, bodies, and spirits.

In the summer of 1981, Marty Nystrom, a high school teacher, planned to attend a six-week summer course at the Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas. However, due to an airline strike, he had to take a train instead. The journey from Chicago to Dallas took three long and arduous days.

While everyone else was there to seek spiritual growth, Nystrom had his eyes on a young girl, hoping to meet an ideal partner, but his wish was not fulfilled. The unfamiliar environment made him feel restless, and the strictness of the Christ for the Nations Institute made him feel that it was not as good as his alma mater, Oral Roberts University. During his time at university, he had been involved in ministry, but his heart had never truly longed for God. His motivation for serving was to win the approval of others. Texas was vast, and the summer heat was unbearable. If he had a return ticket in his hand, he really wanted to go home.

One of his roommates invited Nystrom to join them in a three-week extended fast to gain clarity and a clear vision for their lives. During the fast, the kitchen faucet was his only source of sustenance. Nystrom recalled, "At the beginning of the fast, I was completely broken, and God began to release me from everything. I found myself becoming less interested in worldly desires, while my spiritual longing to be close to God increased day by day. For the first time since becoming a Christian, I sincerely prayed to God with Psalm 42:1, 'As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.'"

On the nineteenth day of the fast, Nystrom sat at a slightly out-of-tune piano in the men's dormitory and played various psalms and praise songs. It was at this moment that God gave him the song "As the Deer." He sang this song continuously that day. Someone asked him, "Why did you use archaic language from the Bible in the first part of the song and modern language in the second part?" He replied, "As a songwriter, the wording should be consistent, but at that moment, I thought of the biblical verse first, and then unconsciously responded with my own words."

Nystrom's friend encouraged him to share this song with the worship leaders. Today, the handwritten manuscript of his song is framed and displayed in the hallway of the Christ for the Nations Institute.

In 1983, after getting engaged, Nystrom taught at the New York branch of the Christ for the Nations Institute. Many students became authors of praise songs. In 1988, Nystrom became the manager of the song promotion department at Integrity Music. He has written over eighty songs. This song is listed as one of the top twenty-five best-selling songs in the Christian Copyright Licensing Inc.

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