Psalm 42 - overcomer - My soul does thirst for God
This is such a beautiful psalm. Every one of the 11 verses is a gem.
This is the first psalm of Book II of the Psalms.
It is the first of 11 psalms by or for the sons of Korah (Ps 42, 44,45
-88). The LXX & KJV translated all 11 as "for the sons of Korah" meaning that they were written by someone else for the sons of Korah to sing. Most translations including NKJV say "of the sons of Korah" meaning that they were written by the sons of Korah. Ps 88
lists another author in addition to the sons of Korah, so Darby translates just Ps 88 as "for the sons of Korah".
Korah led a rebellion against the Lord and Moses (Jude 11;), but his descendants went on to become wonderful psalmists. We are all like the redeemed sons of Korah.
This song is the 2nd Maschil
(giving understanding) psalm, and the 1st Maschil
psalm for the overcomer. The 1st Maschil
was Psalm 32
, which has a brief explanation. Psalm 32
gave understanding on confessing our sins and being forgiven. This psalm gives us understanding on how to take care of distress in our soul by seeking God.
This psalm was easy for me to do. I started with the 1650 Scottish Psalter, memorized it by singing, and made changes. This song is about 70% from the Scottish Psalter
- This short psalm mentions "my soul" 6 times and "God" 13 times.
The word translated as "yearn" appears only here and in Joel 1:20
. KJV "pant", meaning "short heavy breathing" is not a good translation of this word. .
To say, "my soul yearns", means it is, at this point, involuntary. It is the fruit of living a life with God. It is not something I will to happen.
This psalm was a great favorite with the early Christians hunted to the catacombs, where the deer is a common emblem on the walls. - F. B. Meyer
To come and appear before God occurs in the gatherings of God's people in v4 (Exo 23:17
"the living God" means that God actually leads me and converses with me.
This thirst for God proves the very being of God; for all natural appetites must have their perfect satisfaction. - F.B. Meyer
In other words, the human thirst for God proves the existence of God.
- What is so painful about people saying to him, "Where is your God?", which is repeated in v10
? I think it is because he has no answer, and this is causing him to doubt God. He does not suppress his doubts, but confronts first his own soul and then God about it.
"Where is your God?" can be asked from 2 points of view. One from an unbeliever, who does not believe in God, or another from a person who is religious without an expectation that God is living (2Tim 3:5
). The 2nd view is more likely to make me doubt, thinking that I am wrong to make God the center of my life.
- "my soul is poured out over me" means he is holding nothing back from himself by not letting himself think about or question what is going on in him.
The phrase "over me" or "upon me" is repeated 5 times (vv 4-7, 11). Most translate it as "in me", but that would be a different Hebrew preposition. It means that it is a burden upon me.
It seems at this time the psalmist is not able to attend the gatherings of God's people. Why, we don't know. It may be a legitimate reason such as being in captivity, but that doesn't seem to be the case. He might have been exiled for being faithful to the Lord such as David was in the land of the Philistines during the reign of King Saul.
Or it may be a not so good reason such as when Ruth's husband sojourned in Moab because there was a famine in Israel. It may be a bad reason such as Jonah running away from the Lord's calling because he did not agree with the Lord having mercy on Israel's enemy. There is a link to Jonah in v7
When he remembers the past, how he led a multitude to the house of God with joy, he recalls how happy he used to be, and that experience seems like it was that of a different person.
His being deprived of meeting with the saints has caused him to yearn and thirst for God, especially in the gatherings.
"When I come with the multitude to the house of God, when I enter His house, when I am in His presence, that is the time I appear before Him. ... Let me check with you. Where is it that you sense most deeply that you are in God's presence? I believe that you must answer that you sense God's presence the most when you are in the local churches. I cannot tell you how many times when I was in the meetings of the local churches, I was just before God. ...
Even before we enter the house, there is joy and praise. I believe that this is the best verse to tell us the way to come to the meetings. Firstly, we must come with the multitude - it is better not to come by ourselves. Secondly, we should come with the voice of joy and praise. While we are on the way, either walking or driving, we may start the praising. ... I hope that one day, when Christians are going to the church meetings, everyone around will realize that they are on their way to the meeting because they are praising. Even in ancient times the Old Testament saints came to the house of God in such a wonderful way. How much more should we!" - Witness Lee
Love for the sanctuary without the love of the God of the sanctuary is meaningless. Love for God which does not result in love for His house is unnatural. - Leupold
- If his soul is himself, who is talking to his soul? Is it his mind or his spirit? I do not think it is his spirit because the part of him that is doing the talking has a will (also v11
). A human being has a spirit, but he is not a spirit, but a soul. Paul purposed in his spirit (Acts 19:1
), but his spirit did not purpose. It seems that the psalmist's mind and will are talking to his soul, which is his mind, emotion and will joined together. This is strange to explain, but it is all our experience.
His soul and his mind are not in harmony. His mind wants to be joyful with the Lord, but his soul is cast down. He inquires of his own soul what is wrong and tells his soul what is its state.
We should tell our soul to trust God, and we should praise God even if our soul does not feel like it.
Sing, though just now your feet may be bound in the stocks (Acts 16:25
). - F.B. Meyer
- lit "my soul is cast down upon me"
In v5 he asks his own soul what is wrong. Here he tells it to God. Surprisingly to me, after telling God that his soul is cast down upon himself, he does not ask God to do anything. Instead he tells God that because his soul is down, he will remember God from where he is.
These 3 locations are a little strange:
"from Jordan's land" - Out of 164 instances of the Hebrew word for "Jordan" in the Bible, 155 times it is used with the definite article ("the Jordan), but here there is no definite article. The only times the definite article is not used are 7 times in Numbers
for "the Jordan of Jericho", which refers just to the part of the Jordan river by the city of Jericho, not to the river itself. The other exception is Job 40:23
, where the meaning is any fast descending river or waterfall, not the Jordan river particularly. The Hebrew word for Jordan means "descender". The meaning may mean "descending land" or valley experiences.
"Hermon's mounts" is literally "Hermons", the plural of "Hermon". This is the only plural instance of Hermon in the Bible. This seems to refer to the 3 peaks of Mt. Hermon. This may imply high experiences.
"little Mizar hill" is literally Mount Mizar. There is no other mention of this place in the Bible. "Mizar" means least, last or little. (Rom 12:3
From the structure of the sentence, Mizar hill is in apposition to "Jordan's land and Hermons". I think the psalmist is on insignificant Mizar hill, from which he can see the low land of the Jordan and the peaks of Hermon. I like to go to places with a view like this to commune with God.
- I think from where he is on Mizar hill, he is near a waterfall. I think it was during the night because of the next verse. He hears the beautiful echoing roar of the waterfall and feels that the roars and echoes are the wordless communication of deep unto deep (Psalm 19:1-4
). This resonates with his communication of his mind with his soul and of himself with God.
Also it seems that all the beautiful breaking waves are troubles which the Lord has lovingly measured out to him.
The 2nd sentence of this verse is an exact quote from Jonah 2:3
or vice-versa, where Jonah turned to the Lord and prayed in the fish's belly. Jonah also mentions turning to God's temple in 2:4, 7
and the deep in 2:5
. Jonah had run away from the Lord and His people. Jonah's soul was extremely disturbed (Jonah 4:1-4, 8-9
). I do not know how to tell whether Jonah quoted this psalm in his prayer within the fish's belly, or if the psalmist quoted Jonah's prayer.
The Hebrew word for "waterfalls" is used only here and in 2Sam 5:8
In 2014, my wife and I stayed at beautiful Letchworth State Park in western New York state. There are 3 giant waterfalls and scores of small ones. We stayed at Mr. Letchworth's former mansion, which is now a lodge, situated right beside the largest falls. (It was not expensive.) The sound of the falls was so soothing, especially at night. I took this short video of the falls at night from the lodge library. If you go there, be sure to also do the white water rafting. The waves are huge.
- Among the many great verses in this psalm, this verse is my favorite.
The "day" will come, when the LORD will send forth His mercy (Ps 30:5
). This is my hope. Now, during the night, the LORD's song is with me (Job 35:10
Oswald J. Smith says this on how he wrote the hymn, The Glory of His Presence: "Sometimes in the darkest moments of life God gives a song - a song in the night. It was so with David, the sweetest psalmist of Israel, and it has been so with me. For it was in just such an hour that The Glory of His Presence was born. Despair had driven me to God. Day after day, in the midst of heartache and disappointment, I stole away and walked alone with Jesus, and oh! how real He became! From the depth of the valley to the mountain height above, I journeyed with Him until the vision of His glory flooded my soul." - Hymn Stories by Oswald J. Smith.
"God, my living" is the same in Hebrew as "the living God" in v2
, except with a yod
suffix, which means "my".
This is the only mention of God's name, Jehovah, in this psalm. It mentions "God" 13 times: Elohim 10 times + El 3 times.
- I like this honesty with God.
"God, my Rock" means that God is the unchangeable one you can depend on.
- This continues v9, what he will say to God his Rock.
- The simple conclusion of this instructive psalm:
When your soul is cast down or anxious:
Hope in (or trust or wait on) God.
Praise God, who is the health of your mood.
This is the same as v5
. It takes repetition for this simple thought to sink in.
copyright voiceInWilderness.info 2015
Psalm 42 For the Overcomer, Giving Understanding, through the Sons of Korah
As deer do yearn and plea
for brooks of water clear,
so yearns my soul, O God, for Thee
that to Thee I be near.
My soul does thirst for God,
for God Who is living.
When shall I come and appear 'fore
My God in gatherings?
Tears have been bread to me
both in the night and day,
while unto me continually,
"Where is thy God?" they say.
My soul's poured out o'er me,
when this I think upon,
that to God's house with so many
I heretofore had gone.
Them to God's house I led
with voice of joy and praise,
together with the multitude
that kept the holy days.
Why are you down, my soul
and o'er me so dismayed?
Trust God, for I shall praise Him yet.
His presence is my aid.
My God, my soul's cast down.
Thee therefore mind I will
from Jordan's land and Hermon's mounts,
from little Mizar hill.
Calls deep to deep as the
voice of Thy waterfall.
Thy breaking waves pass upon me,
and all Thy billows fall.
The LORD will in the day
yet command His mercy.
By night His song's with me. I'll pray
to God, Who's my living.
I'll say to God, my Rock,
'Why You forget me so?
Why, from the foe's oppression, thus
in darkness do I go?
'Tis a sword in my bones.
They reproach me, upbraid,
e'en when by them, "Where is thy God?"
is to me all day said.'
Why are you down, my soul?
And why, with grief oppressed,
are you disquieted o'er me?
In God still hope and rest.
For yet I shall Him praise,
Who presently to me,
the health is of my countenance,
and my near God is He.
Joel 1:20 The beasts of the field also cry unto thee; for the water-courses are dried, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness. (Joe 1:20 DBY)
Exodus 23:17 Three times in the year all thy males shall appear in the presence of the Lord Jehovah. (Exo 23:17 DBY)
Deuteronomy 16:16 Three times in the year shall all thy males appear before Jehovah thy God in the place which he will choose, at the feast of unleavened bread, and at the feast of weeks, and at the feast of tabernacles; and they shall not appear before Jehovah empty: (Deut 16:16 DBY)
2Timothy 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2Ti 3:5 KJV)
Numbers 26:3 And Moses and Eleazar the priest spoke with them in the plains of Moab by the Jordan of Jericho, saying,
63 These are they that were numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who numbered the children of Israel in the plains of Moab, by the Jordan of Jericho.
31:12 and they brought to Moses and Eleazar the priest, and to the assembly of the children of Israel, the captives and the prey and the booty, to the camp in the plains of Moab, which are by the Jordan of Jericho.
33:48 And they removed from the mountains of Abarim, and encamped in the plains of Moab by the Jordan of Jericho.
50 And Jehovah spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan of Jericho, saying,
35:1 And Jehovah spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan of Jericho, saying,
36:13 These are the commandments and the ordinances which Jehovah commanded through Moses to the children of Israel, in the plains of Moab, by the Jordan of Jericho.
Job 40:23 Lo, the river overflows -- he startles not: he is confident though a Jordan break forth against his mouth. (Job 40:23 DBY)
Psalm 88:1 A Song, a Psalm for the sons of Korah. To the chief Musician. Upon Mahalath Leannoth. An instruction. Of Heman the Ezrahite. Jehovah, God of my salvation, I have cried by day and in the night before thee. (Psa 88:1 DBY)
Job 35:10 But none saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night; (Job 35:10 KJV)
Psalm 30:5. For His anger
is but for a mo-oment.
Is for a lifetime.
visit for a night,
but rejoicing comes
in the morning.
Romans 12:3 For I am telling every single one of you, through the grace that has been given to me, not to have exaggerated ideas about your own importance. Instead, develop a sober estimate of yourself based on the standard which God has given to each of you, namely, trust. (CJB)
Jonah 2:3 For thou didst cast me into the depth, into the heart of the seas, And the flood was round about me: All thy breakers and thy billows are gone over me.
4 And I said, I am cast out from before thine eyes, Yet will I look again toward thy holy temple.
5 The waters encompassed me, to the soul: The deep was round about me, The weeds were wrapped about my head. ...
7 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.
2 Samuel 5:8 And David said on that day, Whoever smites the Jebusites and gets up to the watercourse, and the lame and the blind hated of David's soul...! Therefore they say, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house. (2Sam 5:8 DBY)
The heavens God's glory record.
The expanse tells His work abroad.
Day unto day gushes forth words,
Night unto night knowledge.
3 There is no speech, there are no words,
in which their voice cannot be heard.
Their line's gone forth through all the earth,
their speech to the world's end.
Jonah 4:1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
2 And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.
3 Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.
4 Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry? ...
8 And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.
9 And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.
Acts 16:23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely.
24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
(Act 16:23-25 NKJ)
Ezekiel 43:2 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east; and his voice was like the voice of many waters; and the earth was lit up with his glory. (Eze 43:2 DBY)
Revelation 1:15 and his feet like fine brass, as burning in a furnace; and his voice as the voice of many waters;
Revelation 14:1 And I saw, and behold, the Lamb standing upon mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand, having his name and the name of his Father written upon their foreheads.
2 And I heard a voice out of the heaven as a voice of many waters, and as a voice of great thunder. And the voice which I heard was as of harp-singers harping with their harps;
19:6 And I heard as a voice of a great crowd, and as a voice of many waters, and as a voice of strong thunders, saying, Hallelujah, for the Lord our God the Almighty has taken to himself kingly power.
Acts 19:21 And when these things were fulfilled, Paul purposed in his spirit to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia, saying, After I have been there I must see Rome also. (Act 19:21 DBY)
Jude 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion.
Numbers 16:1 Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men:
2 And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown:
3 And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?
4 And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face: (Num 16:1-4 KJV)
23 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
24 Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.
25 And Moses rose up and went unto Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel followed him.
26 And he spake unto the congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins.
27 So they gat up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children.
28 And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind.
29 If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me.
30 But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.
31 And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them:
32 And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.
33 They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.
34 And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also.
35 And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense. (Num 16:23-35 KJV)
40 To be a memorial unto the children of Israel, that no stranger, which is not of the seed of Aaron, come near to offer incense before the LORD; that he be not as Korah, and as his company: as the LORD said to him by the hand of Moses. (Num 16:40 KJV)
Num 26:9 And the sons of Eliab; Nemuel, and Dathan, and Abiram. This is that Dathan and Abiram, which were famous in the congregation, who strove against Moses and against Aaron in the company of Korah, when they strove against the LORD:
10 And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died, what time the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men: and they became a sign.
11 Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not.
(Num 26:9-11 KJV)
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