The content of Psalm 42 is the anguishing soul of the Psalmist intermingled with prayer and praise. This psalm was written for then and today, an invitation from God to come to him, and the occasion, when going through a exhausting storm of life.and we may not feel His presense. We may feel he has turned his face from us. Whatever you may be going through, and you feel alone, God invites you to seek Him.
Some ascribe the writing of Psalm 42 to the sons of Korah, a Levitical family of singers, who may have been among the companions of David during his exile.
Others suggest David as the author when he was fleeing from his son, Absalom. Let’s go now to Psalm 42, where the writer of Psalm 42 was in exile from his homeland and from God’s house. The Psalmist describes the time of exile, and he compares himself in this situation to that of a hart, and in the Hebrew, the word speaks of a muscular male deer, and he suffers from the loss of water brooks in his habitat in the drought. In Psalm 42:1, the Psalmist says, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks,” Deer, like all living things, need water to survive. And water requirements increase with the deer’s body mass. A time of drought takes its toll and depletes their energy. Deer also get most of their water requirements from the vegetation that is high in water content. But during a drought the vegetation disappears. The deer then suffer from lack of nourishment, that has been a source for water, and now that rainfall is scarce, there is lack of water brooks, and even remaining puddles dry up, and any stagnant water remaining becomes a breeding ground for disease, and the deer succumbs to an insatiable thirst for water, and it becomes a great struggle to survive the drought, even for the strongest. “so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” David is described, along with his men, as mighty and valiant, a man of war, yet his circumstances, drove him to have a deep yearning for God, a yearning that would not be satisfied.
Let’s look closer at these verses in Psalm 42. In Psalm 42:1, the Hebrew name of God is Elohiym, the plural name for God, depicting the triune God. The Psalmist had an insatiable thirst for his triune God. and then in Psalm 42:2, “My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? We see again the Hebrew name, Elohiym, for the triune God, then the name for “the living God” in the Hebrew, He is chay El, meaning living, the revived, the almighty. The soul of the Psalmist was thirsting for the triune God, the living, revived God Almighty. The thought of God as a living God, the almighty, was especially vital to the Psalmist during this time. He was in exile, away from home, his people, and place of worship, and the surrounding people worshipped Gods of wood and stone, and he expresses his deepest yearning. He knew God was with him. He spoke to God in verse 1. But then in verse 2, as if God was not with him, he spoke of God. His soul was in turmoil, with emotions tossing his thoughts back and forth.
3 “My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, ‘Where is thy God?’
The question that was to instill hopelessness within his soul was constantly thrown at him. We can assume his tears day and night were figurative as the term ‘lehem’ for meat was figurative. Inwardly he was continually crying to God in such a state that his soul was feeding on the emotional turmoil day and night, allowing no let up.
4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holy day.
The Psalmist looked forward to the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week. It was a day, appointed by God, a day of rest for His people and worship. Then there were other celebrations throughout the year when the Psalmist gathered with God’s people for commemorating what God had done for His people.
Throughout the year, the Psalmist had been with a multitude of likeminded believers, family and friends, each sharing praises and thanksgiving, joyous times as they made their way together to the same meeting place, the house of God, and throughout the year, there were special occasions that they looked forward to, made preparations for, and commemorated all that the Lord God had done among their people for past generations, so much to look back on, wondrous things that had the people marveling over all that God had accomplished in the lives of their people in past generations, and even then, and what God was going to do, so much to look forward to, marvelous things that built and strengthened their faith, and now all of that was behind him, his soul was filled with agitation and anguish; questions flooded his soul,…
Psalm 42:5 Why are thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.
The Psalmist felt like his world had bottomed out, he felt low, his soul was drowning in anguish; his heart, filled with agitation, was crying out for answers, and then he answered his own questions with answers that were of His God, but at the same time, the answers were spoken of God, as if God was not present. He gives himself the answer, “hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” He spoke as if he were looking forward to be again in the presence of God. He was feeling distance between him and His God.
Psalm 42:6 “O my God, my soul is cast down within me, therefore will I remember Thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.”
Now his speech changes. God, in His marvelous way, made His presence known to the Psalmist, and now he does not speak of God, but he prays to God and pours out how he feels to God, “I feel low, my world has bottomed out, my soul is drowning is anguish and agitation,” he laid it all out before God how he felt, what he was going through. Then he makes a statement of commitment to God, “I will remember you from where I am,” and he was basically saying, no matter where I am.
Psalm 42:7 “Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of Thy waterspouts: all Thy waves and billows are gone over me.”
The Psalmist here still realizes the presence of God, and that what was going on was of God: Thy waterspouts, Thy waves and billows. The words “Deep calleth unto deep” speaks of an echo the Psalmist hears through it all. This could speak of his own repetition, repeating himself, asking the same questions over and over, and then repetition of praise and prayer to God, as he goes through this storm.
Let’s look at another storm that will shed light on the words of the Psalmist in 42:7. Psalm 107:25,26, 28, 29. The author of this Psalm is unknown, but he speaks of a storm, but the language is figurative of the storms of life, that is of God, and when God is called upon, He calms the storm. “For He commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. 26 They mount up to heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. 28 Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. 29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. The words in these verses speak of an inexhaustible source of water. These are the storms of life, that sometimes seem there is no let up, but in the end we find God is in control of the storm, and he is not going to let us drown, and though we may be exhausted, and ready to throw in the towel because of the onslaught of the waves of tauntings and ridicule washing over us, God is faithful and brings about calm and refreshing in our lives, and will satisfy our thirst for Him.
Psalm 42:8 Yet the Lord will command His loving kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
Here the Psalmist acknowledges that he knows the heart of God, and is assured of the Lord’s loving kindness, and when darkness falls upon his life, a song of God stays within him, and his prayer will be to God. Even though the storm has not passed over, he is reassured that God is in control of the storms of life.
Psalm 42:9,10. I will say unto God my rock, ‘Why hast Thou forgotten me? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 10 As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, ‘Where is thy God?’
Here the Psalmist is sharing with his reading audience his questions for God. He refers to God as my rock, his personal rock, a support on which he will firmly stand, and God will be his personal defense against the enemy. Yet he feels God has forgotten him, so again he does not feel the presence of God, and he says he will ask God why he was still mourning because of the oppression of the enemy. Then he shares that daily he hears the ridicule and taunts of the enemy ‘Where is thy God?’
Psalm 42:11. Why are thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance.
The Psalmist concludes his Psalm with questions for himself, “Why am I cast down, why do I feel so low, why do I feel my world has bottomed out? and then he asks himself, why am I agitated and in anguish? Then he advises his readers then, and us today “Hope Thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance. The Lord Jesus Christ erases from us all scars, stains and traces of sin that Satan hurls at us in our everyday lives, and others will look upon us to discover the glowing countenance of the Lord Jesus Christ shining through in our lives.
Copyright 2016 Rosie Barnett Foshee