The Book of Psalms Bible Study Psalm 42

Psalm 42

Do we desire G-d – not for His blessings, or for His help and assistance etc… but do we crave His Presence in our lives? 

Inscription (which is v1 in the Hebrew Bible): This is a unique type of Psalm. There are of few of these types of psalms in the Psalms, but they are not common. 

Contemplation – this word comes from a Hebrew word which means intelligence. It has to do with knowledge or being wise in a practical sense. This psalm is written in a way to impart wisdom to us, give us knowledge etc in order that we might live successful lives (from a heavenly and not from an earthly perspective – G-d’s definition of success)

v1: Pants – a word of intense desire, a desire that is rooted in a need. This deer is panting because he has a great thirst. 

  • Water brooks are able to quench thirst. 
  • Pants my soul – The context is that we, in our innermost being, should have a thirst, a desire, a strong commitment to experience G-d.

v2: Living G-d – The Psalmist wants G-d (His will and His purposes) to be active in his life. 

  • Come and appear – above all they (these sons of Korah) want to be in the presence of G-d. That is their objective – just to be with Him – without expectation of G-d having to do something. 

v3: This psalmist (like many of David’s psalms) is going through a difficult time.

  • Tears – sorrow, sadness, those things that are uncomfortable. 
  • Food – the Hebrew word here is “bread”. Daily bread. 
  • Day and night – a Hebrew idiom that means continuously. 
  • Where is your G-d? is seen and understood as mocking (It is a lie. Even if we cannot see G-d moving in our lives He is there – as He has promised those who are in covenant with Him that He will never leave or forsake us). Although the psalmist is going through a difficult time G-d doesn’t seem to be there. G-d is not moving in his life in a visible way. 

v4: In this verse the psalmist identifies what’s going on in his life.

  • Pour out my soul – this is a reference to prayer. He is going to tell G-d what he is going through. This is a wise thing for us to do. When we pray and tell G-d things they are never things that G-d doesn’t already know. However, prayer helps us to see more clearly, to see from G-d’s perspective. When we pray it is like taking an inventory of our struggles – and when G-d moves to answer we are already aware of the lack and we see and appreciate G-d’s deliverance. 
  • Go with the multitude (moving slowly or cautiously) …to the house of G-d (place of worship) – He didn’t walk around aimlessly when he was in a difficult situation. He had a destination. The enemy uses difficult situations in our lives to take our eyes off G-d and cease from worshipping Him. When things are difficult we need to keep our eyes on Yeshua and keep on worshipping (with the voice/sound of joy and praise/thanksgiving)!
  • A pilgrim feast/festival – a time of great celebration. This verse links worship of G-d with celebration. Worship celebrates G-d.

v5: Cast down – he’s acknowledging that he is being beaten up in this world, that G-d has allowed his countenance (his soul, his emotion) to be brought down. He wants to know the purpose of why he is at this low point spiritually.

  • Disquieted – noise or disturbance.
  • Despite how he feels he responds with hope and with praise. 
  • Help = salvation (written in the plural here so it means “abundant salvation”)
  • This abundant salvation is only found in G-d’s presence – ‘His countenance’ or before His face. 

v6: My soul is cast down – emphasizing how he’s feeling. He has been brought down. He is feeling very low emotionally. 

  • Therefore …. Because he is low he does something!
  • “I will remember You…” Remember is a covenantal word. He remembers G-d’s faithfulness, he remembers G-d’s love, He remembers….
  • At the Jordan there was a crossing over into the land of promise
  • Mt Hermon is the place where G-d commanded blessing for His people (Ps 133)
  • Hill Mizar – this is the only place in the Bible where this hill was mentioned. An unknown place…we do not know of anything significant that ever happened here. The scholars say that it was probably a place where something personal and special took place in the psalmist’s life – something between only him and G-d. Mizar is a word that means small or insignificant – from a worldly point of view. 

v7: Deep calls unto deep – imagery that speaks of his suffering and hardships. Often thought of as waters but can also be a reference to an abyss (at the bottom of a hole which is difficult to climb out of). 

  • Waterfall – narrow space, intense pressure. 
  • Waves/breakers/billows – being pummeled by the surf, stress and anxiety as difficult to get out of this situation – like a pit closing in on him. Waves crash again and again and again. They are relentless. 

v8: Daytime – daily. 

  • Lovingkindness – grace. When we think that G-d has abandoned us this is what He is actually doing – commanding His grace and giving us His song! In these difficult times G-d is in the midst of us – even though we cannot see Him. 
  • Grace and song are parallel in this verse. Grace leads us to be able to worship G-d. 
  • A prayer to the G-d of my life (eternal life!) – our difficult times don’t define us. Although we may be experiencing them temporarily this will not be the case eternally. 

v9: “My Rock” – When we are in a covenantal relationship with G-d He is the foundation (stabilizing force) of our lives. 

  • Forgotten me – another reference to being cast down. 
  • Mourning – a place of gloom and darkness. 

v10: Breaking (the word used here is ‘murder’/killing) of my bones. Bones = the very structure/stability in his life is being broken or brought to nothing. 

  • Reproach – bring shame, contempt or disgrace. 

Note: In this psalm we see the psalmist going from difficulty to worship, and back to difficulty and straight back to worship. 

  • These enemies don’t believe in G-d and they want to bring discouragement to the psalmist. They want to influence him in a negative way. 

v11: This verse is almost identical to verse 5 – except for the end sentence.

  • Hope (like faith) means that we rest, believe and know that G-d’s promises are coming.
  • My countenance …my G-d: The two have become one. These difficulties have brought us into a oneness with G-d. G-d brings us close to Himself through difficult times. He wanted our presence to be with Him. This is the benefit about going through these times. In difficult times we must not believe our emotions or feelings and act on those, but we must base our lives on theological truth – standing on the promises of G-d. 

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