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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

Psalms 42

Verses 1-11

Psalms 42:1-19.42.11

So we enter now into Psalms 42:1-19.42.11 into the second book of the psalms.

And as a hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God ( Psalms 42:1 ).

Jesus said, "Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled" ( Matthew 5:6 ). Here the psalmist is expressing his desire for God, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so pants my soul after thee, O God." Jesus cried out, "If any man thirsts, let him come unto Me and drink. And he who drinks of the water that I give out of his innermost being, there shall flow rivers of living water" ( John 7:37-43.7.38 ).

There is within every man a thirst for God. Down deep inside of every man there is that thirsting after a meaningful relationship with God. Now this thirst is like being hungry sometimes and not knowing exactly what you are hungry for. Your body chemistry is trying to tell you that it is needing some particular chemical. Maybe it is in enchiladas, or maybe it is in ravioli, but you are hungry for something and you can't quite pinpoint what you are hungry for. And so as a result, you are eating everything, trying to find out, "What am I hungry for?" And nothing seems to satisfy; nothing seems to fit my particular hunger. Sometimes the hunger is a little indistinguishable. Even as the thirst often is indistinguishable, in that I know that I am lacking, I know that I need something more, I know that life must have something more than what I have yet experienced. There must be more to life than this. In reality, way down deep inside my spirit is thirsting after God and a meaningful relationship with God.

Now it is amazing the many things by which people seek to satisfy this thirst. Look at the world around you in which we live and you see people trying to satisfy this spiritual thirst by all kinds of experiences; physical experiences, emotional experiences. And so often, as they are pursuing after one of their immediate goals, their idea is if I can just attain, if I can just achieve, it is going to satisfy. And oh, they become evangelists for this particular little deal that they are in right now, cause, "Oh, this is it. This is going to satisfy. This is going to bring to me all that I am looking for in life." And they are running down the trail. But when they get to the end of the trail, they find that it is empty, just like everything else. And so they are looking for another path to follow. They are running here; they are running there. They've got a thirst. They are trying to satisfy that thirst, but they don't know where. They don't know how.

Jesus, when He talked to the woman of Samaria there at the well, He said to her, "If you drink of this water you are going to thirst again" ( John 4:13 ). Now you should inscribe that verse over every earthly ambition that you have, over every worldly pursuit. Go ahead, drink of it, but you are going to thirst again. You are not going to find the real satisfaction that your heart is yearning for, until you find God, and a meaningful relationship with God. Now it is a wise man and it is a blessed man who is able to define the thirst and know that it is a thirst for God and comes then into a meaningful relationship with God. God is the one that planted the thirst there. And only God can satisfy that thirst. And so the psalmist identifying, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so my soul panteth after Thee, O God."

My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they [that is, my enemies] continually say unto me, Where is your God? When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them into the house of God, with a voice of joy and praise, with the multitude that kept holyday. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? why art thou disquieted in me? ( Psalms 42:2-19.42.5 )

Now here the psalmist is talking to himself. And sometimes talking to yourself can be a very healthy thing. There is a form of talking to yourself that is not healthy. But here the psalmist is saying, "Hey, soul, why are you cast down? Why are you disquieted in me? Why am I depressed? Why am I discouraged? Why do I feel so miserable?" Now a lot of people just get depressed and they just think, "Well, I am just depressed today." And they go on in their depression, rather than talking to themselves and talking yourself out of it. You can actually talk yourself out of depression, out of discouragement, out of defeat. So many times we are talking ourselves into it. "Oh, nobody has ever had it as bad as I have it. This is the worst that ever happened to anybody in the whole world. No one's ever faced anything like this." And we just, you know, languish in our own sorrows. But the psalmist said, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me?" And then he gave his soul some advice.

hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance ( Psalms 42:5 ).

Now, he is saying, "All right, now don't get discouraged. Hope in God. God's on the throne." And that is when we get discouraged, when we forget that fact. You must not forget that God is ruling. God is on the throne. When I forget that and I look at the world, I think, "It's no use."

When our little girl was in first grade, just learning to write, we came home one day and there was a note that said, "There is no use. I've run away." And sometimes we feel that way. It's no use; we want to run. It is because we have forgotten that God is on the throne. God is ruling over all. Oh, I will be the first to admit that things are beyond man's control. I mean, the ship is sinking fast. It is out of man's hands, but God still reigns, God still rules. He is still on the throne, and that is my only hope today. And thus, when I start looking at the whole world scene, when I start reading what is going on and I start getting all disquieted and upset, I have to say, "Hey, what is the matter soul? Why are you so disquieted?" "Well, you fool, can't you read the papers? Don't you know what's happening?" Yea, but hope thou in God, for He is yet going to deliver. God is yet going to work. God is in control. I am glad about that, I'll tell ya!

O my God ( Psalms 42:6 ),

And here is an honest confession.

my soul is cast down within me ( Psalms 42:6 ):

It is important that you be honest with God. You are never going to deceive Him. You are never going to fool Him. And if you are upset, confess it. Be honest with God. "Oh God, my soul is disquieted within me." There are some people who say, "How is everything going?" "Oh great, just great, great, great." You know. But in reality they are just covering, because things are going horribly and they are really upset. They are at their wits' end. They don't know what to do. And yet, they put up a good front. And we sometimes carry this over with God. But it is best to be honest with God. "God, I am so upset. My soul is disquieted. It is cast down."

therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and from the Hermonites, and from the small hills. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. 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 ( Psalms 42:6-19.42.8 ).

And so, though it seems like I am being overwhelmed, the billows of grief and sorrow, and trouble are just overflowing me, yet the Lord will command His loving-kindness in the daytime and in the night His song shall be with me.

There are many references in the scripture to songs in the night. Couple of years ago I was back in Pennsylvania speaking in some special services back there, and I got hold of some bad tuna that they served for dinner and I got food poisoning. And after the service that night when I came back to my room, I was sick! Oh, I was sick. I couldn't sleep. My stomach was just churning, burning, crazy food poisoning. And as I lay there in misery, a beautiful chorus, worship chorus came to me. I never heard it before, just inspiration, just a song of worship and praise to the Lord. And I started to sing it, and I sang it over and over and over again. A song in the night, of worship, of praise, of thanksgiving to the Lord. And I thought, "Oh, that is a beautiful chorus. I better get up and write it down. I can maybe slip downstairs and pick out the tune on the piano and write it down, because I don't want to forget this. I want to teach this to everybody. Oh, such a neat chorus to worship the Lord, you know." And I thought, "Well, if I were plunking on the piano at this hour of the morning and I should awaken my host, they will think that I was crazy or something. Maybe I better not go downstairs." But, really, I was too sick to get out of bed and just turn on the light and write the thing down. So I just kept singing it over and over. And I thought, "Oh, no, I will never forget this. This is just beautiful." And I finally sang myself to sleep. In the morning when I awakened, I was healed; the Lord had touched me. I was feeling fine, except that I couldn't remember the chorus. It's sort of like the lost chord, you know. I've searched. Done my best to try and remember it. And I said, "Oh Lord, please help me to remember it." And He said, "No, that was just the song for the night. My song to get you through that rough night."

"In the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life."

I will say unto God my rock, Why have you forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? As with a sword in my bones, my enemies reproach me; while they daily say unto me, Where is your God? ( Psalms 42:9-19.42.10 )

That's one of the things that people quite often cast at the Christian when something goes wrong. "Where was your God when that tragedy happened? Where was your God?" As though God is supposed to deliver us from every problem in our lives. God doesn't promise to deliver you from every problem. In fact, there is a promise that you don't really like that says, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous" ( Psalms 34:19 ). I hate that promise. I don't like afflictions. And in afflictions people are always saying, "Well, where was your God then? Where is your God when children are starving to death in Cambodia? Where is your God when earthquakes happen in Algeria? Where is your God when Mount St. Helens blows its top? Where is your God?" It does get discouraging sometimes when we don't have answers.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? why are thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God ( Psalms 42:11 ).

Hey, I am going to come through. One of these days I will be praising God even for this trial that I am presently enduring. I will yet praise Him. "

Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Psalms 42". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.