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THIS psalm, committed (like so many others) to the precentor, or. chief musician, for its musical setting, is entitled "Maschil of the sous of Korah"—i.e. an "instruction," or didactic psalm, composed by the Korahite Levites—a Levitical family of singers (1 Chronicles 26:1, 1 Chronicles 26:2; 2 Chronicles 20:19). To the same family are assigned Psalm 45-49; in the present book, and Psalms 84:1-19.84.12; Psalms 85:1-19.85.13; Psalms 87:1-19.87.7; Psalms 88:1-19.88.18, in Book III. The composition, though assigned by some to the commencement of the Babylonian Captivity, belongs more probably to the time of David, and the words seem put by the author into the mouth of David himself. The date of the composition is probably the year of David's flight from Jerusalem on the revolt of Absalom (2 Samuel 15:16), when he spent some months in the Trans-Jordanic territory, chiefly at Mahanaim (2 Samuel 17:24; 2 Samuel 19:32). The psalm is chiefly an outpouring of sorrow and complaint; but still is an "instruction," inasmuch as it teaches the lesson that in the deepest gulf of sorrow (Psalms 88:7) the soul may still turn to God, and rest itself in hope on him (Psalms 88:5, Psalms 88:8, Psalms 88:12).
There is an intimate union between this psalm and the next, which is a sort of additional stanza, terminating in the same refrain (comp. Psalms 43:5 with Psalms 42:5 and Psalms 42:11).
As the hart panteth after the water-brooks. Stags and hinds need abundant water, especially in hot countries, and, in time of drought, may be said, with a slight poetical licence, to "pant," or "cry" (Joel 1:20) for it. They are still found in Palestine, though rather scarce. So panteth my soul after thee, O God. The "panting" of the soul does not mean any physical action, but a longing desire for a Messing that is, at any fate for a time, withheld.
My soul thirsteth for God (comp. Psalms 63:1; Psalms 143:6; Isaiah 55:1). The devout soul is always athirst for God. David felt his severance from the tabernacle and its services as a sort of severance from God himself, whom he was accustomed to approach through the services of the sanctuary (see 2 Samuel 15:25, 2 Samuel 15:26). For the living God. This title of God occurs only in one other psalm (Psalms 84:2); but it was a title familiar to David (1 Samuel 17:27). It is first used in Deuteronomy 5:26; and, later, in Joshua 3:10; 2 Kings 19:4, 2 Kings 19:16; Isaiah 37:4, Isaiah 37:17; Jeremiah 10:10; Jeremiah 23:36; Daniel 6:26; Hosea 1:10. It expresses that essential attribute of God that he is "the eternal Life" (1 John 5:20), the Source and Origin of all life, whether angelic, human, or animal. When shall I come and appear before God? Appearance in the tabernacle must here be specially meant, but with this David connects his return to God's favour and to the light of his countenance (2 Samuel 15:25).
My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? (comp. Psalms 80:9, "Thou feedest them with the bread of tears;" and Ovid, 'Metaph.,' 10:288, "Cure dolorque animi, lachrymaeque, alimenta fuere"—"They who grieve deeply do not eat; they only weep;" yet they live on, so that their tears appear to be their aliment). David's grief at being shut out from God's presence is intensified by the reproaches of his enemies, "Where is thy God?" i.e. "Is he not wholly gone from thee? Has he not utterly cast thee off?".
When I remember these things; rather, these things I remember—the things remembered being those touched on in the rest of the verse—his former free access to the house of God, and habit of frequenting it, especially on festival occasions, when the multitude "kept holy day." "Deep sorrow," as Hengstenberg remarks, "tries to lose itself in the recollection of the happier past." I pour out my soul in me. "The heart pours itself out, or melts in any one, who is in a manner dissolved by grief and pain." David does not alleviate his sorrow, but aggravates it, by thinking of the happy past. "Nessun muggier dolore che ricordarsi di tempo felice nella miseria" (Dante). For I had gone (rather, how I went) with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holy day.
Why art thou cast down? or, Why art thou bowed down? i.e. brought low—a term indicative of the very extreme of dejection. O my soul. The spirit, or higher reason, rebukes the "soul," or passionate nature, for allowing itself to be so depressed, and seeks to encourage and upraise it. And why art thou so disquieted in me? rather, Why dost thou make thy moan over me? literally, make a roaring noise like the sea (comp. Psalms 46:3; Jeremiah 4:19; Jeremiah 5:22). Hope thou in God (comp. Psalms 33:22; Psalms 39:7, etc.). For I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. Another reading assimilates the refrain here to the form which it takes in Psalms 42:11 and in Psalms 43:5. But, as Hengstenberg observes, Hebrew poets, and indeed poets generally, avoid an absolute identity of phrase, even in refrains (see Psalms 24:8, Psalms 24:10; Psalms 49:12, Psalms 49:20; Psalms 56:4, Psalms 56:11, etc.).
O my God, my soul is cast down within me; or, bowed down, as in the first clause of Psalms 42:5. Therefore will I remember thee. As a remedy for my depression, I will call thee to mind, and cast myself on thee. From the land of Jordan. From the place of my present abode—the Trans-Jordanic region—to which, on the revolt of Absalom, David had fled (2 Samuel 17:24). And of the Hormonites; rather, and of the Hermons. This expression is not elsewhere used, and can only be explained conjecturally. It probably means the mountain ranges which, starting from Hermon in the north, extend in a southerly direction down the entire Trans-Jordanic territory. From the hill Mizar. This name occurs nowhere else; and can be assigned to no special locality.
Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts. Blow follows blow. Misfortunes "come not in single file, but in battalions." The imagery may be taken from the local storms that visit the Trans-Jordanic territory. All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me (comp. Psalms 69:1, Psalms 69:2; Psalms 88:7, Psalms 88:17; Psalms 144:7).
Yet the Lord will command his loving-kindness in the daytime. Notwithstanding all these present woes, God wilt at some time "command" his loving-kindness to make itself apparent (comp. Psalms 44:4; Psalms 68:28), and both "in the daytime" and in the night will so comfort me that his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life; i.e. I shall offer him both praise and prayer continually both day and night (Psalms 92:2) for his great mercies.
I will say unto God my Rock (comp. Psalms 18:1; Psalms 31:3). Why hast thou forgotten me? (see the comment on Psalms 13:1). God does not forget even when he most seems to forget (comp. Psalms 9:12; Psalms 37:28). As the event showed, he had not now forgotten David (see 2 Samuel 19:9-10.19.40). Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Why am. I allowed to remain so long an exile, sorrowing and oppressed (comp. Psalms 43:2)? Even to repentant sinners God's judgments are apt to seem too severe, too much prolonged, too grievous.
As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me. The reproaches of his enemies were as daggers struck into his bones; or, according to others, as blows that crushed his bones (LXX.). So keenly did he feel them. The worst of all was that they could say daily unto him, Where is thy God? What has become of him? Has he wholly forsaken thee (see above, Psalms 42:3)?
Why art thou cast down (or, bowed down), O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me! hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him. Thus far is identical with Psalms 42:5; but what follows is slightly different: who is the health of my countenance, and my God, instead of "for the help (health?) of his countenance." Most commentators assimilate the text in Psalms 42:5 to that of the present verse, which can be effected by a mere alteration of the pointing; but Hengstenberg, Kay, Professor Alexander, and others regard the variant forms as preferable.
Psalms 42:1, Psalms 42:2
The intense longing of the soul after God.
"My soul thirsteth," etc. Amid the trackless mountains and rugged valleys beyond Jordan, where the roaring torrents seem to answer one another from glen to glen, the heart of the pious exile turned with passionate yearning to the city and temple of God. It was, perhaps, as difficult for him to dissociate his deep spiritual yearning after God from the solemn and glorious services of the temple, as it is for us fully to realize the power and value of those services for an ancient believer. Remember that we, as Christians, have in Christ all that the Israelites had in the temple sacrifices and priesthood, and which he could find nowhere else. Nevertheless, the central inspiration of these words is the intense longing of the heart and soul after God himself.
I. THIS LONGING AFTER GOD IS THE HIGHEST AFFECTION OF WHICH HUMAN NATURE IS CAPABLE. It is so, because fixed on the highest Object, and capable of lifting human character to the highest level. What we love most both tests and moulds our character; shows what we are, and makes us such. Ignoble, foul, false, and trivial objects degrade in proportion as they attract; pure, noble, worthy objects of affection and pursuit elevate. Misdirected worship, therefore, degrades. The sincerity of the idolater's religious faith and feeling makes no amends for the degrading and polluting influence of his false creed. Heathendom offers the miserable choice of either the gross and even vicious and foul conceptions of God (or the gods) exemplified in Greek mythology and Hindu incarnations; or the shadowy, unreal, far-away ideas of philosophers, which inspire neither love nor worship, neither obedience nor trust. Contrast the psalmist's view of God—"the living God" (cf. Deuteronomy 32:40, not Revised Version). The Old Testament saint could not anticipate the full revelation of God in Christ Jesus. But the books of Moses and history of Israel carried the personal revelation of God as far as was possible (before the Incarnation), except as supplemented by the teaching of the prophets. The Book of Psalms is filled and inspired with the contemplation of God, as thus known—the Creator, the Author of all life, whose glory fills the heavens, his goodness the earth, his tender mercies reaching even the lowest creatures; as the righteous Judge and Lawgiver, not of Israel merely, but mankind; the Holy One, eternally opposed to sin, yet pardoning the sinner freely; the pitying Father, the only Refuge in trouble, the Hearer of prayer, the soul's true Portion. What does the gospel add? The manifestation of God in Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:19); and revelation of God's love (1 John 4:9, 1 John 4:10).
II. THIS THIRST FOR GOD IS GOD'S OWN VOICE WITHIN THE SOUL. The germ and capacity of this affection are inborn in our nature. Heathenism bears world-wide witness to men's longing for some kind of worship. But not worship of the holy, wise, righteous, loving, infinite Creator. This is practically dead (Romans 1:28). The majority, even in a Christian land like this, live in careless forgetfulness of God; utterly indifferent; others (as in France) hating the very name of God. The presence, therefore, of this overmastering desire after God implies an adequate cause to awaken and maintain. No cause can be suggested but the Spirit of God quickening the dead soul and changing enmity or indifference into love (John 3:3, John 3:6; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Romans 5:5).
III. A SEARCHING TEST OF CHARACTER AND OF SPIRITUAL LIFE IS THUS SUPPLIED. This experience is genuine, real, beyond all doubt. Therefore possible for us. With the full revelation of God in Christ, this affection ought to be both easier and more intense. Is it ours? If not, why? Is it from defective views of God? From secret love of what is sinful, and so indifference or antipathy to perfect holiness? Or, in many cases, neglect of meditation, study of God's Word, and communion with Christ? Note, as caution: Some natures are far colder than others, incapable of the same spiritual ardour. There may be a quiet devotion, an undemonstrative but unswerving consecration, which our Saviour accepts as the true evidence of love (John 14:21; John 15:14). But shall any real Christian be content without some experience of that love and longing of heart towards God, which can make a sanctuary in a desert solitude, and without which heaven itself would be no true temple?
HOMILIES BY C. CLEMANCE
A thirst for God.
This is one of the most touching, pathetic, and beautiful of the Psalms. It is not possible to decide either its author or the time of its composition. Its tones are very much like the plaintive sounds from David's harp, whether or no he was its writer (but see homily on Psalms 43:1-19.43.5.). Leaving untouched, owing to want of space, the historical and geographical matters suggested in the psalm, £ we shall devote ourselves entirely to the opening up of its deep pathos and spiritual fervour, so as to administer instruction and comfort to those saints of God who may even now be ready to say, "All thy waves and billows are gone over me," and from whom, for a while, the face of God seems to be hid. May they find help in tracing the experience of a like sufferer in the ancient days!
I. ONLY THE LIVING GOD CAN SATISFY THE CRAVINGS OF HUMAN SPIRITS. (Verses 1, 2.) So the writer of Psalms 84:2. The words of Augustine are well known, declaring that our hearts want rest, and cannot find it till it is found in God. There are four lines of illustration along which this thought may be worked out.
1. In the heathen world. There are many Corneliuses longing for the Peters to come and tell them about God. The late Mrs. Porter, widow of a missionary at Madras, assured the writer that her husband and herself often came across instances of this sort, and said, "Oh, if Christian people did but know how men long after God, they surely would hasten to send them the news of his love!" £ This yearning after God shows itself in what is best in the several religions of the world.
2. In the worldly, even in Christian lands. Men thirst after riches, honour, rank, etc; and yet the raging thirst of the spirit remains unquenched. Some, indeed, may have suppressed the craving till it ceases to be felt. But such numbness of feeling is not to be confounded with satisfaction. At the moment we are writing, an Italian, named Succi, is making the experiment of going without food for forty days, having made similar attempts before, though for a shorter period. He declares that after the first week no desire for food is left. But, for all that, he is a shrivelling, starving man. Will any be so foolish as to mistake the absence of desire for food for the satisfaction and sustenance of his nature? So in spiritual things, a man may trifle with the yearnings of the Spirit, till the yearning ceases. But he wants God, for all that!
3. In the awakened soul, when the first throbbings of the renewed life are felt, the desire after God becomes intelligent, clear, and strong; the soul craves its God, in whom alone it can find light, pardon, friendship, power, to the full extent of its longings.
4. In the experienced believer. He has found God as his God, as his "exceeding Joy;" but there are times in the experience of many such when all that they have known and realized of God's love seems like a dream of the past; when the light of heaven is partially or even totally eclipsed. This may arise from bodily weakness, from overwhelming sorrows, or from mental and spiritual gloom. But let the cause be what it may, it is agony to the saint when he can neither see, nor feel, nor find his God (see Job 23:3-18.23.10; also Psalms 21:1, and our notes thereon).
II. AT TIMES OF SORE DEPRESSION, THE BELIEVER LONGS FOR THE JOYS OF BYGONE DAYS. (Psalms 84:2, Psalms 84:4.) At the time when this psalm was penned, its writer was unable to attend the house of God. He looked back to the time when he used to accompany the throng and to lead them in procession to the sanctuary. In those days, "the Lord loved the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob;" and on many grounds the worship in the courts of Zion played a very large part in the spiritual delights of the saints. And though changes of circumstance and the advance of the Divine dispensations have altered to some extent the relations between temple worship and home life, yet even now it is a sore privation to be debarred from the fellowship of saints, especially when other causes of depression are active at the same time; for in such a case the saints are shut out from the public service when they are most dependent on its helpful aid. Note: Even so, it is far better to have the heart to go and not he able, than to be able to go and not have the heart for it.
III. THE ENEMY OFTEN TAKES ADVANTAGE OF OUR TIMES OF SPECIAL WEAKNESS. (Psalms 84:3, Psalms 84:10.) "They say daily unto me, Where is thy God?" We know not who these were that could be so intensely cruel to the psalmist when they witnessed his woe. But he was not alone in his experience, though in detail the form of it with us may vary.
1. Very often the taunt of the unbeliever is equivalent to this, when we are pointed to the weaknesses and distresses of the Church, and asked—How can your Christianity be Divine, if this is allowed? And in more private ways:
2. The evil one will take advantage of our moments of distress to insinuate racking doubts. No kindly considerations will ever lead the devil to refrain from tempting us because we are weak. He seized on the Master "when he was an hungred." "The disciple is not above his Master, nor the servant above his Lord."
IV. STILL, THE CHILDLIKE HEART MUST CRY OUT, "GOD!" (Psalms 84:1, Psalms 84:6, Psalms 84:9.) If the light of heaven is shut out, the soul will cry after it. There is a world of difference between the light being kept out because the eye is closed, and its being hidden behind a dense black cloud. And even if the strength is so feeble that the tongue cannot cry, "Father I" yet the heart will We were once visiting a dear friend in sickness. She said, "I am so weak, I cannot think, I cannot pray, I cannot enjoy God at all." We said to her, "Your little Ada was very ill some time back, was she not?" "Very." "Was she not too ill to speak to you? Yes" "Did you love her less because she couldn't speak to you?" "No; I think I loved her more, if anything." Even so, when all that is possible is for the heart to yearn out, "O my God!" the loving relations between God and the saint are not for a moment disturbed.
V. AT THE DARKEST MOMENT, THERE IS REASONING WITHIN REASONING. (Psalms 84:5, Psalms 84:11.) If there be any who have not passed through any such experience as that in this psalm, these words will be wonderfully uninteresting, if not unintelligible. They baffle the logic of the intellect; but the heart has a logic and an eloquence too, that are all its own. It is cast down, and yet chides itself for being cast down. It cannot see God, cannot feel him, yet knows he is there. It is in the depths, through billow after billow rolling over it, and yet at the very moment indulges in blessed memories and hopeful faith. Such are the mazes of the soul. It can scarce understand itself; but "He knoweth our frame," with all its complicated and vexing play of doubt and chiding, of hope and fear.
VI. FROM A RIFT IN THE BLACK CLOUD THERE IS A GLEAM OF SUNSHINE. (Psalms 84:9.) "The Lord will command his loving-kindness," etc. Then all is not lost. The saint may be "perplexed, yet not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed" Here is a fine group of words for a man to take upon his lips: "Jehovah;" "loving-kindness in the daytime;" "in the night, a song;" "the God of my life." Downcast soul, take heart. If all these words are true, take heart. The eclipse will soon be over. He whose face is as yet concealed will soon be revealed.
VII. FOR THE WHOLE OF THIS MOANING CRY IS ONE CONTINUOUS PRAYER. Though not every sentence is in orderly petition, yet the outgoing of the soul in this psalm is one prayer from beginning to end. And however broken the prayer may be, it is real, it is intense, it is wrung out of the necessities of a living soul. And such a prayer, with all its ruggedness and brokenness, is infinitely better than one of those orderly, cold, lukewarm petitions which come from no suffering, and cry for no relief. Far better to hear a man who prays as if he had something to pray for, than one who prays as if he must pray for something. For nots: Those who have gone down to the lowest depths in suffering and humiliation will be led up to the noblest heights of glad ness and of honour. Our God never did, never will, never can, desert the soul that leans on him. We are never in a surer or safer position than when, deep in sorrow and care, deserted by friends, slighted by neighbours, taunted by foes, we, in loneliness of spirit, look up to God, and to God alone. Who shall separate us from his love? Let our earthly sorrows now be what they may—
"He who has loved us bears us through,
And makes us more than conquerors too!"
HOMILIES BY W. FORSYTH
The scene of this psalm seems to have been on the other side of Jordan, near the shining heights of Hermon. Here we may imagine the writer, probably a Hebrew exile, straining his eyes to catch a glimpse of the dear laud of his fathers that was soon to pass from his sight. To him it seemed as if to be separated from Jerusalem was to be separated from God; as if losing the fellowship of the saints were losing God. The hart panting for the water-brooks imaged the grief of his heart athirst after God. The Jordan with its winding rapids, "deep calling unto deep," reflected the tumults of his soul, and reminded him of his distance from home and from the house of God. But he encourages himself by meditation and prayer, and the hope of better times. We may take the psalm as a picture of spiritual depression.
I. THE GODLY MAN CAST DOWN. His trouble does not arise from outward causes; it is within, it is from the absence of God. There were still faith, affection, the going forth of his whole being toward God in love and desire; but there seemed to be no response. Like the hart, hard pressed by the hunters, "the big tears rolling from his eyes, and the moisture standing black upon his side," and panting for the water-brooks, his soul thirsted, but thirsted in vain, for God. His sorrows were increased by the taunts of scoffers and the remembrance of happier times (Psalms 42:3, Psalms 42:4). Repulsed on all sides and lonely, and feeling as if God had forsaken him, he is in sore trouble, and his own heart sadly echoes the cry of his enemies, "Where is now thy God?" Such experiences are not uncommon. We all know what it is to "thirst;" but what do we thirst after? Is it gain, or pleasure, or worldly honours, or such-like? If so, our thirst will not be satisfied. But if we have been quickened by the Spirit, we cannot but thirst after God. He and he alone can supply our need and satisfy our hearts. And if we "thirst for God," let us remember that this implies far more than longing for outward ordinances and joys which for a season we have lost. We are persons, and want a personal God. We are living souls, and crave a living God. We love truth and justice and goodness, and therefore we cry after the eternal God, in whom all truth and justice and goodness dwell. There will come to us, as to others, times of trial, days of darkness, when God seems afar off and silent. But let us not be cast down with overmuch sorrow. "The feeling of forsakenness is no proof of being forsaken. Mourning an absent God is an evidence of love as strong as rejoicing in a present one." With God, for us to desire is to have; and to hunger and thirst is to be filled.
II. THE GODLY MAN COMFORTED. "Why?" This question is first of all addressed to the soul. There is self-interrogation. This is good. When we ask, "Why?" this sets us to inquire as to the reason of things. Light will arise. We may see that the cause of depression is not in God, but in ourselves. For us to abide in this state is unreasonable, contrary to our past experiences, and inconsistent with God's mercy and truth. We can therefore call upon ourselves to cast out fear, and still to hope in God as our God and our Redeemer. But though something has been gained in this way, it is not enough. Old foes rise up, and beat down the soul into the deep waters, where the tumult drowns the voice of mercy, and the billows rising higher and higher threaten us with total engulfment. The cry now takes a nobler form. It is not to the soul, but to God (Psalms 42:6). Mark that there is hope. This points to coming good. Further, it is hope in God. This gives rest. Our own feelings vary. We cannot get comfort from them. Neither can we rely upon past experiences. We may deceive ourselves. Nor can we of ourselves change the circumstances which cause us pain. But the living God is a sure Refuge. He cannot change. He is more stable than the everlasting hills. This hope in God also opens up to us a way from the darkness into the bright future. "I shall yet praise him." At last it rises to full assurance, and the joy of inviolable and everlasting possession, "My God."—W.F.
The hill Mizar.
Association is a potent factor in life. Here it may have worked by contrast. "Mizar," as a little hill, may have called to the mind of David, in exile, the mountains of Judah, and the far-off land of his fathers and his God. We may take "Mizar" to illustrate—
I. THE CHANGES OF LIFE. As with David, so with us, changes come. We may have rest or be compelled to wander. We may have the joys of home or we may be doomed to solitude and to exile. Wherever we are, let us "remember" God (Psalms 56:8; Daniel 9:3, Daniel 9:4).
II. THE RESTING-PLACES OF LIFE. We may be weary and sad, but God is able to give us comfort. Seated on some "Mizar," we may rest and be thankful. Looking back, there is much to awaken, not only our penitence, but our praise. Looking on, there is much to inspire us with hope. There are heights before us to be won. Let us press on with renewed courage.
III. THE SACRED MEMORIES OF LIFE. The noblest and most inspiring associations are those connected with God. Jacob had Bethel, Moses had the burning bush, Daniel the lions' den. So we too may have our holy places, to remember with gratitude and love and hope. The thought of what God has been to us leads us to remember what we should be to God. Past kindnesses and deliverances assure us of continued favour. Let us walk worthy of our high calling.
IV. THE UNDYING HOPES OF LIFE. Whatever happens, God is with us. He does not change. His purposes and his love are the same now as in the past. From our "Mizar" let us say, "I will remember thee." Thus "Mizar" may he to us as "the Delectable Mountains" to the pilgrims, and though it be little in itself, by faith it may enable us to gaze upon the way before us with hope, and to gain glimpses of the glorious land which, though far off, is yet near, where we shall see the King in his beauty, and serve him in love for ever and ever.
"Not backward are our glances bent,
But onward to our Father's house."
HOMILIES BY C. SHORT
Verse 1-Psalms 43:5
Remonstrance of the spiritual man against the natural man.
Supposed to be written by some king or priest on his way into exile, perhaps somewhere in the region of Mount Hermon. It is the remonstrance of the spiritual man within him against the despondency of the natural man.
I. THE CAUSES OF HIS DESPONDENCY.
1. An unsatisfied longing for God. He was being carried away from the temple to a land of heathen idolaters, and this aroused in him an intense longing for some manifestation of God which should deliver him from such a calamity. As the hunted stag pants for the watercourses, so he pants for the living God.
2. His enemies reproach him with being forsaken of God. (Psalms 43:3.) And he can only answer them with tears. His adverse circumstances seem to warrant the reproach; for he sees no prospect at present of a Divine deliverance. They were like Job's comforters. Spiritual calamity the greatest of all calamities.
3. He remembers with anguish the religious privileges he has lost. (Verse 4.) In former days he had gone up with the pilgrim-processions to worship at Jerusalem, to keep holy day; and now he was going in a very different procession away from Jerusalem, as a captive to Babylon, and he is filled with bitter sorrow. Worship and fellowship with God the very air that he breathed.
II. HOW HE ATTEMPTS TO CONQUER HIS DESPONDENCY.
1. In the relocated question "Why?" he remonstrates with himself for yielding to it. As if it was only his lower self that was giving way, his higher self was braving itself to courage and strength.
2. He comforts himself with the everlasting resource of the soul. He hopes in God; for God is still the Health of his countenance and his God, who will show his loving-kindness in the open day of his favour, and give him songs of praise in the night of adversity. This is a hope that springs into the highest regions of faith.
3. He anticipates with assurance a time when he shall praise God for his deliverance. (Verses 5, 11.) Here again is unconquerable faith, which refuses to believe that God will abandon him, though now he has lost the evidence of his presence. Even Christ cried," My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"—S.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Psalms 42". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent