Psalms 42

Hope in God in the Midst of Despair

1

For the [music] director. A maskil of the sons of Korah.

1 As a deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for [the] living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night, while [they] say to me all day [long], "Where [is] your God?"
4 These I remember and I pour out my soul within me: that I would go with the multitude; I led them [in procession] to the house of God, with a voice of rejoicing and thanksgiving, a crowd celebrating a festival.
5 Why are you {in despair}, O my soul, and disturbed within me? Hope in God, because I will again praise him, [for] the salvation of his presence.
6 O my God, within me my soul is {in despair}; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and the heights of Hermon, from the mountain of Mizar.
7 Deep [is] calling to deep at the thunder of your waterfalls. All your breakers and your waves have passed over me.
8 By day Yahweh commands his loyal love, and in the night his song [is] with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God, my rock, "Why have you forgotten me? Why must I walk about mourning because of [the] oppression of [the] enemy?"
10 [As] with a shattering in my bones my oppressors taunt me, while they say to me {all day}, "Where [is] your God?"
11 Why are you {in despair}, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, because I shall again praise him, {my salvation} and my God.

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Psalms 42 Commentary

Chapter 42

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.

Footnotes 9

  • [a]. The Hebrew Bible counts the superscription as the first verse of the psalm; the English verse number is reduced by one
  • [b]. Some Hebrew manuscripts and versions read "and see the face of God?"
  • [c]. Or "temple"
  • [d]. Literally "bowed down"
  • [e]. Literally "bowed down"
  • [f]. Or "to"
  • [g]. Literally "all the day"
  • [h]. Literally "bowed down"
  • [i]. Literally "the salvation of my face"

Chapter Summary

Psalms 42 Commentaries