The conflict in the soul of a believer.
Verses 1-5 The psalmist looked to the Lord as his chief good, and set his heart upon him accordingly; casting anchor thus at first, he rides out the storm. A gracious soul can take little satisfaction in God's courts, if it do not meet with God himself there. Living souls never can take up their rest any where short of a living God. To appear before the Lord is the desire of the upright, as it is the dread of the hypocrite. Nothing is more grievous to a gracious soul, than what is intended to shake its confidence in the Lord. It was not the remembrance of the pleasures of his court that afflicted David; but the remembrance of the free access he formerly had to God's house, and his pleasure in attending there. Those that commune much with their own hearts, will often have to chide them. See the cure of sorrow. When the soul rests on itself, it sinks; if it catches hold on the power and promise of God, the head is kept above the billows. And what is our support under present woes but this, that we shall have comfort in Him. We have great cause to mourn for sin; but being cast down springs from unbelief and a rebellious will; we should therefore strive and pray against it.
Verses 6-11 The way to forget our miseries, is to remember the God of our mercies. David saw troubles coming from God's wrath, and that discouraged him. But if one trouble follow hard after another, if all seem to combine for our ruin, let us remember they are all appointed and overruled by the Lord. David regards the Divine favour as the fountain of all the good he looked for. In the Saviour's name let us hope and pray. One word from him will calm every storm, and turn midnight darkness into the light of noon, the bitterest complaints into joyful praises. Our believing expectation of mercy must quicken our prayers for it. At length, is faith came off conqueror, by encouraging him to trust in the name of the Lord, and to stay himself upon his God. He adds, And my God; this thought enabled him to triumph over all his griefs and fears. Let us never think that the God of our life, and the Rock of our salvation, has forgotten us, if we have made his mercy, truth, and power, our refuge. Thus the psalmist strove against his despondency: at last his faith and hope obtained the victory. Let us learn to check all unbelieving doubts and fears. Apply the promise first to ourselves, and then plead it to God.
Psalms 42:1-11 . perhaps one of this Levitical family of singers accompanying David in exile, mourns his absence from the sanctuary, a cause of grief aggravated by the taunts of enemies, and is comforted in hopes of relief. This course of thought is repeated with some variety of detail, but closing with the same refrain.
1, 2. Compare ( Psalms 63:1 ).
panteth--desires in a state of exhaustion.
2. appear before God--in acts of worship, the terms used in the command for the stated personal appearance of the Jews at the sanctuary.
3. Where is thy God?--implying that He had forsaken him (compare 2 Samuel 16:7 , Psalms 3:2 , 22:8 ).
4. The verbs are properly rendered as futures, "I will remember," &c.,--that is, the recollection of this season of distress will give greater zest to the privileges of God's worship, when obtained.
5. Hence he chides his despondent soul, assuring himself of a time of joy.
help of his countenance--or, "face" (compare Numbers 6:25 , Psalms 4:6 , 16:11 ).
6. Dejection again described.
therefore--that is, finding no comfort in myself, I turn to Thee, even in this distant "land of Jordan and the (mountains) Hermon, the country east of Jordan.
hill Mizar--as a name of a small hill contrasted with the mountains round about Jerusalem, perhaps denoted the contempt with which the place of exile was regarded.
7. The roar of successive billows, responding to that of floods of rain, represented the heavy waves of sorrow which overwhelmed him.
8. Still he relies on as constant a flow of divine mercy which will elicit his praise and encourage his prayer to God.
9, 10. in view of which ( Psalms 42:8 ), he dictates to himself a prayer based on his distress, aggravated as it was by the cruel taunts and infidel suggestions of his foes.
11. This brings on a renewed self-chiding, and excites hopes of relief.
of my countenance--(compare Psalms 42:5 ) who cheers me, driving away clouds of sorrow from my face.
my God--It is He of whose existence and favor my foes would have me doubt.