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Bible Commentaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

Psalms 42

Verse 1


In this Psalm we have the devout breathings of the soul towards God, opposed by unbelief and distrust.

To the chief Musician. Maschil for the sons of Korah.

Verses 1-2

The Psalm opens with the view of a soul panting after enjoyment and communion with God in Christ. And the most lively images are made use of to denote the insatiable thirst, and vehement desires of a soul so earnest after God. The hart is beautifully chosen to represent this soul, which, after being chased, by the pursuits of Satan and the world, looks to Jesus alone for those living streams which make glad the city of God. Reader, while we read these words, it would be well to inquire whether our experience bears a correspondence?

Verse 3

What a striking difference is here made between the gracious soul longing after Jesus, and the heart that can take up and rest satisfied with anything but Jesus. Ordinances will not fill the soul, unless Jesus be found in the ordinances. It is a God in Christ the soul wants; and when this is not experienced, tears will denote the soul's disappointment. And yet those very tears prove that Jesus is still with his people, though, like the disciples at Emmaus, the eye of the soul is holden so as not to know him. Luke 24:16 . Reader, the tear called forth by grace is like the spiced wine of the pomegranate, Song of Solomon 8:2 . If David composed this Psalm, as some have thought, when driven from Jerusalem by the rebellion of his son Absalom, and referred to the taunts of Shimei as he went up the hill of mount Olivet weeping as he went, (2 Samuel 15:30 ; 2 Samuel 24:25 ) still I venture to think, that as this was the very mountain after ages made sacred by the afflictions of Jesus, we ought to keep in view the master more than the servant, who certainly was in this, as well as in numberless other instances a lively type of Jesus.

Verse 4

Those are the sweetest remembrances, however mingled with tears, which callback past enjoyments of grace and divine fellowship. What can be more refreshing, in a dark hour, when all comfort seems for a season to be withdrawn, than the recollection that in such a place, at such a time, and upon such an occasion, the Lord did manifest himself to my soul? Jacob's Bethel, and Moses' bush, opened sources of relief upon numberless occasions of this sort. Genesis 32:12 ; Exodus 3:2 ; Deuteronomy 33:16 .

Verse 5

The holy mourner seems to have found strength from having given vent to his full soul, and therefore expostulates with himself and his unbelief. What! shall I despond, shall I be cast down, who have found God faithful in all that is past? Will Jehovah be less Jehovah to me than to all his people? Will Christ's suretyship be less blessed to me? has his blood lost its efficacy to cleanse? can his righteousness justify me no more? Oh no! I will believe. I will depend. I have hope and sustaining grace still, though the comfortable views of Jesus's smiles; I see not.

Verse 6

The holy mourner again seems to feel reviving affliction. But the same looking back from Jordan, to the very spot where now arrived, and every step in the path strewed with mercies, again brings up the soul. Mizar bitters, and Mizar sweets, when blended, make a mixture palatable, and more than palatable, to the believer's taste. Reader, depend upon it, the children of Jesus would have lost some of their sweetest views and enjoyments of Jesus, had they never known what difficulties and crosses the hill of Mizar produced to them. Blessed Lord! those souls are highly favored of thee, who are most blessed with a conformity to the fellowship of thy sufferings.

Verse 7

Surely Christ is here. For of whom but him can it be said, that all God's waves went over him. Jonah, as a type of Christ, cried out of the belly of hell. And David typically considered might say the same, but not in himself. Jonah 2:2-32.2.3 . A deluge of sin, and the vials of God's wrath due to sin, were poured out indeed upon the holy Jesus, as man's surety. But, blessed Jesus! how precious to the souls of thy redeemed is it to know, that many waters could not quench thy love, no, nor all the floods drown it. Song of Solomon 8:7 .

Verse 8

Every verse seems to change the mourner's situation. Here again he takes comfort. The Lord will give songs in the night, and the day shall manifest his praise.

Verses 9-10

In this confidence he will look up to his rock with joy, and he will look round on the insulting foe with indifference. Doth the foe demand where is now thy God? Where should he be, but always engaged for the defense of his people? Oh! the blessedness of staying upon God in darkness, and trusting in him when the waters of the sanctuary run low. Isaiah 50:10 .

Verse 11

Here is a beautiful reiteration of what was said before, and every renewed view of a God in covenant, and every renewed remembrance of a God engaged in covenant, brings with it increasing strength to the soul. I shall praise him now, and I shall praise him forever. He is, he hath been, and he will be the strength of my soul, and any salvation forever.


Oh! thou ever living, ever flowing, ever refreshing source, to assuage the thirsty souls of thy redeemed in all their pilgrimage state here below; precious Jesus! be thou to me, as to the church in all ages, a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon. Thou art indeed in the midst of the throne above, leading thy church to fountains of living waters; but never to overlook or forget thy redeemed in the wilderness below.

No, bountiful Lord! there is enough in thee for all, and nothing can interrupt or cause to intermit even for a moment, thy attention to the thirsty souls of poor sinners. Thou hast said, If any man thirst let him come to me and drink: And, To him that is athirst will I give of the water of life freely. Come, Holy Spirit, and give me that thirst of soul equal to the most vehement desires of the hart for the water-brooks, and cause me to be continually going forth in holy longings after Jesus; and the more he gratifies them, the more may these longings increase, until I appear before the presence of God, and drink my fill of Jesus at the fountainhead of bliss and glory!

And, my soul, I charge it upon thee, this day, cast all thy fears, thy doubts, thine unbelief, cast the whole to the wind; never, never more let these things rob thee of thy confidence in Jesus, neither thy God in Christ of his glory. Jesus hath promised to the thirsty soul a full assuaging of all his longings. Who then will arise to prevent? What shall ever exhaust a full, free, suitable, and all-sufficient Saviour? And if men will not leave the snow of Lebanon, which cometh from the rock of the field, or if the cold flowing waters which come from another place be not forsaken, shall my soul leave Jesus, the rock of ages; or shall the streams which come from the heaven of heavens (which is himself,) be forsaken, or feared, or doubted by me? Oh, my soul! keep a stedfast eye on Jesus. From the depths of thine own unworthiness, weakness, and misery, cry to the depths of mercy in Jesus. Hope thou in thy God, for I shall yet praise him on earth; and by and by eternally praise him in heaven, who is the health of my countenance and my God.

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Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 42". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.