Psalm 42:3

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 3. My tears have been my meat day and night. Salt meats, but healthful to the soul. When a man comes to tears, constant tears, plenteous tears, tears that fill his cup and trencher, he is in earnest indeed. As the big tears stand in the stag's eyes in her distress, so did the salt drops glitter in the eyes of David. His appetite was gone, his tears not only seasoned his meat, but became his only meat, he had no mind for other diet. Perhaps it was well for him that the heart could open the safety valves; there is a dry grief far more terrible than showery sorrows. His tears, since they were shed because God was blasphemed, were "honourable dew," drops of holy water, such as Jehovah putteth into his bottle. While they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? Cruel taunts come naturally from coward minds. Surely they might have left the mourner alone; he could weep no more than he did -- it was a supererogation of malice to pump more tears from a heart which already overflowed. Note how incessant was their jeer, and how artfully they framed it! It cut the good man to the bone to have the faithfulness of his God impugned. They had better have thrust needles into his eyes than have darted insinuations against his God. Shimei may here be alluded to who after this fashion mocked David as he fled from Absalom. He roundly asserted that David was a bloody man, and that God was punishing him for supplanting Saul and his house; his wish was father to his thought. The wicked know that our worst misfortune would be to lose God's favour, hence their diabolical malice leads them to declare that such is the case. Glory be to God, they lie in their throats, for our God is in the heavens, aye, and in the furnace too, succouring his people.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 1-3. are an illustration of the frequent use of the word Elohim in the second book of Psalms. We give Fry's translation of the first three verses. --

As the hart looketh for the springs of water,
So my soul looketh for thee, O Elohim.
My soul is athirst for Elohim for the living El:
When shall I go and see the face of Elohim?
My tears have been my meat day and night,
While they say to me continually, Where is thy Elohim?

Verse 3. My tears have been my meat day and night. The psalmist could eat nothing because of his extreme grief. John Gadsby.

Verse 3. They say unto me. It is not only of me, but to me; they spake it to his very face, as those who were ready to justify it and make it good, that God had forsaken him. Backbiting argues more baseness, but open reproach carries more boldness, and shamelessness, and impudence in it; and this is that which David's enemies were guilty of here in this place. Thomas Horton.

Verse 3. Where is thy God? God's children are impatient, as far as they are men, of reproaches; but so far as they are Christian men, they are impatient of reproaches in religion; Where is now thy God? They were not such desperate Atheists as to think there was no God, to call in question whether there were a God or no, though, indeed, they were little better; but they rather reproach and upbraid him with his singularity, where is thy God? You are one of God's darlings; you are one that thought nobody served God but you; you are one that will go alone -- your God! So this is an ordinary reproach, an ordinary part for wicked men to cast at the best people, especially when they are in misery. What it become of your profession now? What is become of your forwardness and strictness now? What is become of your God that you bragged so of, and thought yourselves so happy in, as if he had been nobody's God but yours? We may learn hence the disposition of wicked men. It is a character of a full of poison, cursed disposition to upbraid a man with his religion. But what is the scope? The scope is worse than the words Where is thy God? The scope is to shake his faith and his confidence in God, and this is that which touched him so nearly while they upbraided him. For the devil knows well enough that as long as God and the soul join together, it is in vain to trouble any man, therefore he labours to put jealousies, to accuse God to man, and man to God. He knows there is nothing in the world can stand against God. As long as we make God our confidence, all his enterprises are in vain. His scope is, therefore, to shake our affiance in God. Where is thy God? So he dealt with the head of the church, our blessed Saviour himself, when he came to tempt him. "If thou be the Son of God, command these stones to be made bread." Matthew 4:3 . He comes with an "if," he laboured to shake him in his Sonship. The devil, since he was divided from God himself eternally, is become a spirit of division; he labours to divide even God the Father from his own Son; "If thou be the Son of God?" So he labours to sever Christians from their head Christ. Where is thy God? There was his scope, to breed division if he could, between his heart and God, that he might call God into jealousy, as if he had not regarded him: thou hast taken a great deal of pains in serving thy God; thou seest how he regards thee now; Where is thy God? Richard Sibbes.

Verse 3. How powerfully do the scoffs and reproaches of the ungodly tend to shake the faith of a mind already dejected! How peculiarly afflictive to the soul that loves God, is the dishonour cast upon him by his enemies! Henry March, in "Sabbaths at Home," 1823.

Verse 3. Where is thy God?

"Where is now thy God!" Oh, sorrow!
Hourly thus to hear him say,
Finding thus the longed for morrow,
Mournful as the dark to day.
Yet not thus my soul would languish,
Would not thus be grieved and shamed,
But for that severer anguish,
When I hear the Lord defamed.
"Where is now thy God!" Oh, aid me,
Lord of mercy, to reply --
"He is HERE -- though foes invade me,
Know his outstretched arm is nigh."
Help me thus to be victorious,
While the shield of faith I take;
Lord, appear, and make thee glorious:
Help me for thy honour's sake. Henry March.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 1-3. The home sickness of the soul. What awakens it in the soul? To what is it directed, or does it point or tend? Wherewith can it be satisfied? By the bitter, but ofttimes wholesome food of tears. J. P. Lange.

Verse 3. The believer's Lent, and its salt meats.

  1. What causes the sorrow?
  2. What will remove it?
  3. What benefit will come of it?

Verse 3,10. The carriage of David's enemies.

  1. The nature of it, and that was reproach.
  2. The expression of it, They say unto me.
  3. The constancy of it: daily, or, all the day long.
  4. The specification of it, in a scornful and opprobrious question: Where is (now) thy God? Thomas Horton.