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This is the song of an exile and, moreover, of an exile among enemies who have no sympathy with his religious convictions. He cries out after God with all the intensity of one who knows God and cares supremely for the honor of God's name. His greatest grief is their mocking inquiry after his God. By contrast he remembers being in the midst of worshiping multitudes, their leader and companion.
In the midst of his grief he appeals to his own soul in the language of hope and confidence. A great conflict goes on within, for he affirms, "My soul is cast down." Notice carefully the heroism of the man. He makes his trouble and disquietude the occasion of remembering God. Out of the place of exile he turns his thoughts to God. The result is not deadening his sense of sorrow but rather setting it in right relationship to God. Trouble has come in cataracts and waves and billows, but they are all God's own. "Thy cataracts . . . Thy waves . . . Thy billows." When sorrow is set in this relationship, there is a consciousness of love in the daytime; there is in the night a song and a prayer. The trouble is still there, the oppression and reproach of the enemy, but courage and hope and the conviction of coming deliverance continue also. It is a wonderful psalm and has been the song of many an afflicted yet trusting soul.
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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Psalms 42". "Morgan's Exposition on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent