Psalm 42 - My Soul Thirsts for God

INTRODUCTION: The verses for this study were taken from the Jewish Publication Society Bible (JPS) and the Bible in Basic English (BBE). Psalm 42 is the first psalm within Book II of the five books of Psalms in the JPS Bible version. In the JPS Bible, the verse numbering marks off the psalm into twelve verses, whereas the BBE and the KJV mark off only eleven verses for this psalm. Because of the numbering difference, the sequence below will seem askew, but the verse content is grouped appropriately.


Psalms 42, JPS 1-3, BBE 1-2

JPS 1 ¶ BOOK II For the Leader; Maschil of the sons of Korah. 2 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. 3 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: 'When shall I come and appear before God?'

BBE 1 ¶ <To the chief music-maker. Maschil. Of the sons of Korah.> Like the desire of the roe for the water-streams, so is my soul's desire for you, O God. 2 My soul is dry for need of God, the living God; when may I come and see the face of God?


Psalms 42, JPS 4-6, BBE 3-5

JPS 4 My tears have been my food day and night, while they say unto me all the day: 'Where is Thy God?' 5 These things I remember, and pour out my soul within me, how I passed on with the throng, and led them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, a multitude keeping holyday. 6 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why moanest thou within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise Him for the salvation of His countenance.

BBE 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while they keep saying to me, Where is your God? 4 Let my soul be overflowing with grief when these things come back to my mind, how I went in company to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with the song of those who were keeping the feast. 5 Why are you crushed down, O my soul? and why are you troubled in me? put your hope in God; for I will again give him praise who is my help and my God.


Psalms 42, JPS 7-12, BBE 6-11

JPS 7 ¶ O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore do I remember Thee from the land of Jordan, and the Hermons, from the hill Mizar. 8 Deep calleth unto deep at the voice of Thy cataracts; all Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over me. 9 By day the LORD will command His lovingkindness, and in the night His song shall be with me, even a prayer unto the God of my life. 10 I will say unto God my Rock: 'Why hast Thou forgotten me? Why go I mourning under the oppression of the enemy?' 11 As with a crushing in my bones, mine adversaries taunt me; while they say unto me all the day: 'Where is Thy God?' 12 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why moanest thou within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the salvation of my countenance, and my God.

BBE 6 ¶ My soul is crushed down in me, so I will keep you in mind; from the land of Jordan and of the Hermons, from the hill Mizar. 7 Deep is sounding to deep at the noise of your waterfalls; all your waves have gone rolling over me. 8 But the Lord will send his mercy in the daytime, and in the night his song will be with me, a prayer to the God of my life. 9 I will say to God my Rock, Why have you let me go from your memory? why do I go in sorrow because of the attacks of my haters? 10 The cruel words of my haters are like a crushing of my bones; when they say to me every day, Where is your God? 11 Why are you crushed down, O my soul? and why are you troubled in me? put your hope in God; for I will again give him praise who is my help and my God.


Comments - my desire for communion with God

This Psalm expresses some very deep emotions of David, with direction from the Holy Spirit. The "King of Israel", David and also the Lord Jesus, have in the record of scripture, expressions of emotion that are not easy for me to relate to with my personality. I am more comfortable with the preciseness of science or math, and less so with the emotional or artistic realm. I studied some of the Hebrew terms by Strong's reference and the lexicon, and I did word searches for certain key words; but until I tried to identify with King David, and then with the passion of Christ Jesus, I could not seem to get a personal application from this Psalm. David had that faith which enabled him to go against Goliath, to wait for God to remove Saul as king, to dance and leap as the ark was brought into Jerusalem, and to maintain his trust in God as he fled from his own son Absalom. As we imagine the picture of the multitude at the house of the Lord, we should remember that worship in David's day was not at the lavish temple, because his son Solomon did not build that temple until after David's death. But, there were times established for corporate worship. As for Jesus, he waited patiently through the first thirty years of his life, he took nothing of the luxuries of the physical world, he contrasted law and love in his ministry without setting aside God's law, and he endured the shame of the cross for the joy which was set before him. Below are my summarized prayerful thoughts as of this time.


--- Reflections in prayer ---

Verses 1 to 5

Through contemplation about the triune God, I realize that you have placed within my soul a desire to be blessed by you, which is as strong as that which drives a robust animal to seek out to quench its thirst with pleasant cool running water. Now that desire wells up within me, to be renewed by the living water from the True and Living God, and to see your face and have sweet communion with you. In those dark times of feeling separation from you, my tears of longing can be an almost constant companion, and the world of unbelievers all around say through actions, attitudes, and sometimes even blatant words, "There is no God". And then I remember those times of great joy, when the fellowship of other believers in agreement as the Word of God is preached, or the corporate praise of our Savior, was truly uplifting to my soul. The question then comes to mind, why should I be downcast within my soul since I know my hope is sure and steadfast in the God of my salvation?

Verses 6 to 11

O my God, now I realize that whenever my soul is cast down within me, I must remember you as the source of my joy and blessings, with whatever sweet memories are recalled from my past. As the trials and tribulations, which come to me, seem to sweep over me as if to drown me in a flood, I will trust that you, Jehovah, will command your lovingkindness in the daytime; And in the night as your song comes to me, I will pray to you, the God of my life. In that prayer I will tell you, God my rock, how I feel. It seems as though you have forgotten me, and I am mourning because of the oppression of your enemies. As with the crushing of my bones, I feel the reproach of the constant evidence all around me, of "There is no God." or "Where is your God?". But this will bring my thoughts back to the question "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me?" Then shall I place my hope in God; For I shall yet praise him, and I will remember that my hope is that same sure hope of King David, that God guarantees resurrection to eternal life for those who put their trust in him! Amen.

Published 4 June 2004, first issued 9 August 1999


--- Additional related verses for further contemplation ---

Jesus the creator, fulfilled scripture about himself by displaying his zeal for the proper attitude toward worship. He also focused on his own resurrection as his seal of authority, and that resurrection embodies the hope of eternal life for all believers. Our creator is in control of all things, and he will give us the water of life in the new heavens and the new earth. Continually seek that water through the word while it is still called today, and anticipate the perfection of the saints when time is set aside in favor of eternity.

John 2:15-21 AV

15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; 16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. 17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. 18 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? 19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body.

Isaiah 65:17 AV

17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

Romans 1:19-20 AV

19 ¶ Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Revelation 4:11 AV

11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Revelation 21:6 AV

6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

We worship the living God, who says of himself "I am that I am". Through the centuries, God has dealt with those who reproach the name of the living God. The Davidic line of kings began with such a reproach, and near the end of that period, God brought the recompense directly to a pagan king Sennacherib. During the captivity, another pagan king was made to praise the living God, and Hosea and Paul (in Romans) spoke of us as the children of the living God. Messiah Jesus is the son of the living God, and is worthy of worship; but he will be the object of reproach from unbelievers until the time of judgement.

1 Samuel 17:26

26 And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?

Isaiah 37:17

17 Incline thine ear, O LORD, and hear; open thine eyes, O LORD, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God.

Daniel 6:26

26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.

Hosea 1:10

10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.

Romans 9:26

26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.

Matthew 16:16

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.