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Bible Commentaries

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Psalms 42




The penman of this Psalm is uncertain. as not being named in the title. It was composed either,

1. By David, when he was banished from the house of God, either by Saul’s tyranny, or by Absalom’s rebellion; or,

2. By the sons of Korah, in the time of the captivity of Babylon; whence some read the words of the title of this Psalm, Maschil of the sons of Korah. But this is not usual in this book, to name the author of a Psalm so obscurely and indefinitely; for the sons of Korah were a numerous company. and it is not likely that either all or divers of them did join in the inditing of this and the following Psalms so called. Nor is there any one Psalm where the author is named. but he is one certain and single person. And therefore it seems more probable that David penned this, as it is confessed he did some other Psalms which have not his name in the title.

Who were an eminent order of. singers in the house of God; of whom see 1 Chronicles 6:33; 1 Chronicles 9:19; 1 Chronicles 26:1.

The psalmist being deprived of God’s service, ardently desires to be in his house again, Psalms 42:1-19.42.4; rouseth up his soul unto a firm hope and confidence in God, Psalms 42:5-19.42.9. His enemies reproach him, Psalms 42:10. His faith in God, Psalms 42:11.

The hart is naturally hot and thirsty. And this thirst is increased, partly by its dwelling in desert and dry places, to which it retireth for fear of men and wild beasts; and partly by its long and violent running, when it is pursued by the hunters; and some add, by eating of serpents.

Verse 1

After thee; after the enjoyment of thee in thy sanctuary, as it appears from Psalms 42:4.

Verse 2

Thirst is more vehement than hunger, and more impatient of dissatisfaction.

For the living God: this he mentions as a just cause of his thirst. He did not thirst after vain, useless idols, but after the only true and living God, who was

his life, and the length of his days, as is said, Deuteronomy 30:20, and without whose presence and favour David accounted himself for a dead and lost man, Psalms 143:7.

Appear before God; in the place of his special presence and public worship. See Exodus 23:15; Exodus 25:30. What is called before the Lord, 1 Chronicles 13:10, is before or with the ark, 2 Samuel 6:7.

Verse 3

My tears have been my meat; which notes both the great abundance and constant course of his tears, and the secret satisfaction and ease which he found in giving vent to his passion this way. Possibly his tears and grief took away his appetite, and so were to him instead of food.

Where is thy God, of whom thou hast so often boasted, as of one so able and ready to help all that trust in him and call upon him, and particularly as one engaged to time by many great and special promises? He is gone and departed from thee, and no where to be found of thee. He is either unable or unwilling to help thee, or regardless of thee.

Verse 4

These things; either,

1. Which follow, to wit, my former freedom. Or rather,

2. Last mentioned, my banishment from God’s presence, and mine enemies’ scoffs and triumphs upon that occasion.

I pour out my soul: this phrase notes either,

1. His fervent prayer, as it is taken, 1 Samuel 1:15; Psalms 62:8. Or,

2. His bitter sorrows, whereby his very heart was almost melted or dissolved, and his spirits spent, and he was ready to faint away; as it is used Job 30:16; Lamentations 2:12. Compare Psalms 22:14. Or rather,

3. Both together; that he breathed out his sorrows and sad complaints unto God by fervent prayers. In me, i.e. within my own breast, between God and my own soul; not openly, lest mine enemies should turn it into matter of rejoicing and insulting over me.

I had gone, to wit, in the way to Jerusalem. And my sorrow was increased by the remembrance of my former enjoyments. Compare Lamentations 1:7.

With the multitude; according to the custom, and in the company of Israelites, who went thither in great numbers. Compare Psalms 84:6,Psalms 84:7.

I went with them; or, I led them, encouraging them by my presence and forwardness.

That kept holyday; or, that kept the feast, to wit, the three solemn festival solemnities, which they kept holy unto the Lord.

Verse 5

Why art thou cast down with excessive sorrow and despair?

For the help of his countenance, Heb. for the salvations of his face, i.e. for those supports, deliverances, and comforts which I doubt not I shall ere long enjoy, both in his presence and sanctuary, to which he will restore me, and from his presence, and the light of his countenance, which he will graciously afford to me.

Verse 6

That I may revive my drooping spirits, I will consider thy infinite mercy, and power, and faithfulness, and thy gracious presence in the sanctuary, from whence thou dost hear and answer all those that call upon thee, in all the parts of the land.

From the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar, i.e. from all the places and parts of the land to which I shall be driven; whether from the parts about or beyond Jordan on the east: or, the Hermonim, i.e. either the people inhabiting Hermon; or the mountain of Hermon, which was in the northern parts, Numbers 34:7; Deuteronomy 3:8; Psalms 89:12, here called Hermonim, in the plural number, because of its great largeness, and many tops and parts of it, which are called by several names: or,

the hill Mizar; a hill so called, though not mentioned elsewhere, which is supposed to have been in the southern parts of the land; but peradventure it was in the east and beyond Jordan; and David might mention these places, because when he was banished by Absalom, he had been successively at all of them, and in all of them had remembered God, and directed his prayer to him.

Verse 7

Deep calleth unto deep, i.e. one affliction comes immediately after another, as if it were called for and invited by the former; which he expresseth by a metaphor taken either,

1. From the old flood, when the upper deep, or abyss of waters, (in the clouds,) called the lower deep, or abyss of waters in the sea and rivers, that both might unite their forces together to drown the world. And thus the Chaldee understands it. Or,

2. From the sea, when its waves rage, and it is full of deep furrows, into which ships and passengers sink down, and then rise and sink again, successively and continually. But these tempests are caused in the sea by God’s mighty winds, rather than by his water-spouts. Or,

3. From violent and successive showers of rain; which frequently come down from heaven, as it were, at the noise or call of God’s water-spouts, to wit, the clouds; which by their rattling noises and terrible thunders do in a manner invite and call forth the showers which are contained in their bowels.

All thy waves and thy billows; thou hast sent one sharp trial or affliction upon me after another.

Are gone over me, i.e. are gone over my head, as this same verb is used, Psalms 38:4. They do not lightly sprinkle me, but almost overwhelm me.

Verse 8

Will command i.e. will effectually procure or confer upon me, as this verb is used, Leviticus 25:21; Psalms 7:6, &c. The verb is future, but some render it by the time past,

the Lord hath commanded; making this rehearsal of his former experiences of God’s goodness his argument to support himself, and to prevail with God in prayer; which may seem to suit best with the foregoing and following verses. But we must remember that David’s hopes and fears were strangely mixed, and his expressions of them are commonly interwoven in the same Psalm, and sometimes in one and the same verse, as it is here, Psalms 42:5,Psalms 42:11. And therefore there is no necessity of departing from the proper signification of the verb.

His loving-kindness, i.e. his blessings, the effects of his loving-kindness, which God is oft said to command, as Deuteronomy 28:8; Psalms 133:3.

And in the night; both day and night, i.e. continually.

His song shall be with me, i.e. I shall have constant matter of singing and praising God for his loving-kindness.

My prayer shall be unto the God; and therefore I will boldly and believingly direct my prayers to him, of whose readiness to hear and help me I have had such ample experience.

The God of my life; the giver and preserver of my life from time to time.

Verse 9

I will say unto God; I will expostulate the case with him.

My rock; who hath formerly been a sure refuge to me.

Why hast thou forgotten me? why dost thou now seem quite to forget and neglect me? Why go I mourning? why dost thou leave me in this mournful state, and not succour me speedily?

Verse 10

In my bones, or in my body, the bones being oft put for the body, whereof they are a very considerable part. Or, as a sword, which pierceth and cutteth my flesh even to the bones, and cutteth or breaketh the very bones also. So painful and vexatious are their reproaches.

Where is thy God? of which See Poole "Psalms 42:3".

Verse 11

The health of my countenance, Heb. the salvations of my face i.e. either,

1. Which are present and manifest, being before my face. Or,

2. Which will make my face to shine, and my countenance cheerful, which supposeth the gladness of the heart, and the bettering of his condition. Or,

3. Of his person; as the face sometimes signifies, as 2 Samuel 17:11; Isaiah 3:15. As also the Greek word signifying face, is very frequently put for the person, whereof the face is an eminent part. My God: as he formerly was, so he still is, and ever will be, and will suddenly show himself to be, my God, although for a season he may hide his face, or withdraw his help from me.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 42". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.