Psalm 42:11

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 11. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? In the rehearsal of his sorrow, he finds after all no sufficient ground for being disquieted. Looked in the face, his fears were not so overwhelming as they seemed when shrouded in obscurity. Hope thou in God. Let the anchor still keep its hold. God is faithful, God is love, therefore there is room and reason for hope. Who is the health of my countenance, and my God. This is the same hopeful expression as that contained in verse five, but the addition of and my God shows that the writer was growing in confidence, and was able defiantly to reply to the question, "Where is thy God?" Here, even here, he is, ready to deliver me. I am not ashamed to own him amid your sneers and taunts, for he will rescue me out of your hands. Thus faith closes the struggle, a victor in fact by anticipation, and in heart by firm reliance. The saddest countenance shall yet be made to shine, if there be a taking of God at his word and an expectation of his salvation.

"For yet I know I shall him praise
Who graciously to me,
The health is of my countenance,
Yea, mine own God is he."

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 5,11. See Psalms on "Psalms 42:5" for further information.

Verse 11. Imitate here the example of David, instead of yielding to a vague grief: cite your soul; enquire of it the particular cause of your sorrow: different remedies will be requisite according to the different sources of your distress; and be careful that you trifle not with God, and your comfort, and your salvation, while you enquire of your soul, Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Be impartial, there is another and more solemn judgment to succeed: be persevering, like the psalmist, return, again and again to the investigation: be prayerful; self love, or the delusion of your heart, may otherwise deceive you. Pray then to God, to "search you, and see if there be any wicked way in you." Henry Kollock, D.D., in "Sermons," etc. 1822.

Verse 11. Hope. Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey towards it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us. Samuel Smiles, L.L.D.

Verse 11. God ... is the health of my countenance. The health of David's countenance was not in his countenance, but in his God, and this makes his faith silence his fears, and so peremptorily resolve upon it, that there is a time coming (how near so ever he now lies to the grave's mouth) when he shall yet praise him. The health and life of thy grace lie both of them, not in thy grace, saith faith, but in God, who is thy God, therefore I shall yet live and praise him. I do not wonder that the weak Christian is melancholy and sad, when he sees his sickly face in any other glass than this. William Gurnall.

Verse 11. The health of my countenance. The countenance is often a true index to the mind. In the present awakening in religion, nothing is more remarkable than the sad or joyous looks of those whom God has spiritually exercised. It is easy who are sad, and who happy. There is nothing new in this; the psalmist says, "My soul is cast down within me." Therefore had he a dejected countenance; but said he, "Send thy light and thy truth; let them lead me; then will I go unto God, my exceeding joy...And he shall be the health of my countenance." In his sorrow, the face of Jesus was marred more than any man's, and his visage more than the sons of men. The martyr Stephen was so filled with the sight of Jesus, that in the midst of his persecutors, with death in prospect, he had a face which "shone as the face of an angel." My friend, how is it with thee? Is thy countenance sad? or doth it shine with the joy of the Lord, telling the true tale of thy life and lot? J. Denham Smith. 1860.

Verse 11. Hast thou seen the sun shine forth in February, and the sky blue, and the hedgerows bursting into bud, and the primrose peeping beneath the bank, and the birds singing in the bushes? Thou hast thought that spring was already come in its beauty and sweet odours. But a few days, and the clouds returned, and the atmosphere was chilled, and the birds were mute, and snow was on the ground, and thou hast said that spring would never come. And thus sometimes the young convert finds his fears removed, and the comforts of the gospel shed abroad in his heart, and praise and thanksgiving, and a new song put in his mouth. And he deems unadvisedly that his troubles are past for ever. But awhile, and his doubts return, and his comforts die away, and his light is taken from him, and his spirit is overwhelmed, and he is fain to conclude that salvation and all its blessings are not for him. But the spring, though late, shall break at last. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? H. G. Salter's "Book of Illustrations," 1840.

Verse

  1. His arguments and motives hereunto are impregnated with very great sense and strength; and urged upon himself as the just rate thereof. Hope thou in God. For he is
  2. God.
  3. Thy God.
  4. The health of thy countenance, and
  5. One whom thou shalt (certainly and for ever) praise as such. And
  6. Do it yet, as lamentable and hopeless as thy case appears at present through seeming difficulties or unlikelihoods. God and ourselves well understood, deeply considered, and skilfully urged and improved, give gracious hearts the best encouragements and supports under the severest accidents of time. And they will very strangely animate our hopes in God under our sorest troubles and dejections. David had
    1. confidence in God; and
    2. reasons for it; and
    3. skill and a heart to urge them. When he reviewed himself, he saw that his soul was gracious; and so he knew God valued it. It was bent for praising God; and so he knew that he should have an opportunity and cause to do it, through some signal favours from him. He had an interest in God; and he would neither lose it nor neglect it, and he had great experience of God's former mercies, and he would not forget them. And when he thinks on God, then praises must be thought on too, and everything relating to it, and all the divine perfections, within the circumference of his knowledge, must have their fresh remembrances and powerful sense revived upon his own heart. Matthew Sylvester (1636-1708), in "Morning Exercises."

Verse 11. The soul, when once greatly disturbed, is often not soon calmed, on account of infirmities and remaining corruptions. Henry March.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 11. My God.

  1. It's a word of interest -- My God, as in covenant with him.
  2. A word of compliance -- My God, as submitting to him.
  3. A word of affection -- My God, as taking delight, and rejoicing in him. T. Horton.

Verse 11. A catechism, a consolation, a commendation.

Verse 11.

  1. David's experience of God. He is the health, or help of my countenance.
  2. His relation to God, and interest in him -- And my God. T. Horton.