Psalm 42

The Second Book of the Psalms
Psalms 42 – 72
The Second Book of the Psalms (42 – 72). From a prophetic standpoint, the second book of the Psalms focuses on the second half of Daniel’s seventieth week, and gives us the expressions and sentiments of the Jewish remnant as they pass through the “great tribulation”, and it continues on into the Millennium. The second book of Psalms corresponds with the second book of the Pentateuch, Exodus; i.e. the themes of persecution, suffering and deliverance. Read more… One of the distinctive features of the Second Book is that these Psalms are Elohistic rather than Jehovahistic; i.e. they are marked by the prevalence of the name “Elohim”, in contrast to the First Book which was marked by the prevalence of the name “Jehovah”. Both names of God are used in both books, and appropriately so through each Psalm, but one name is used proportionately more throughout the book. Why is this? The key lies in the prophetic application of these Psalms to Israel in a future day. The First Book focuses more on the early part of the prophetic week when the Jews are in the land, carrying on their worship of Jehovah. They see themselves in a covenant relationship with God, and therefore use the name “Jehovah” more frequently. But after the rise of Antichrist, the faithful remnant of the Jews fall under extreme persecution, and they must flee their land and the temple, and go to the mountains. The Second Book focuses on this time, although it does continue into the Millennium. As the remnant is viewed as cast out by their brethren and away from the sanctuary, their prayers become addressed to “God” (Elohim). In these Psalms the remnant comes to know God in a deeper way, as they are brought to a point where they appeal to Him in terms of what He is intrinsically, rather than according to His covenant relationship with Israel as a nation.1

Psalm 42
The Remnant Fleeing from Persecution
Psalm 42. As the inscription shows, this Psalm is attributed to “the Sons of Korah”, who were the descendants (probably in David’s time) of the infamous Levite who rebelled against Moses’ authority (Num. 16). The incident in Num. 16 is a scene of judgment, but in Num. 26:11 we read “But the children of Korah died not”. It is a striking picture of God’s overruling mercy in the midst of judgment. Prophetically, these sons of Korah were suitable vessels to give utterance to the feelings of the remnant in a time when Israel is under the chastening hand of God! How wonderful too that Korah’s children were able to overcome that difficult situation! The fact that the sons of Korah are credited with a number of Psalms is evidence of the mercy and grace of God. These singers are credited with at least eleven Psalms (Psa. 42, 44–49, 84, 85, 87 and 88). The Korah-Psalms fall within the second and third books of Psalms. Psalm 42 – 49 are a complete series, all attributed to the sons of Korah.2 Psalm 42 is titled “an instruction”, and it contains that which the teachers among the remnant will instruct the faithful to do once they have been forced to flee Jerusalem in the great tribulation; i.e. don’t give up, and instead “hope in God”. When the Jews no longer have their temple, they will learn to trust God Himself! Psalm 43 is a sequel to Psalm 42.
To the chief Musician. An instruction; of the sons of Korah.
1 As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living GOD: when shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my bread day and night, while they say unto me all the day, Where is thy God?
4 These things I remember and have poured out my soul within me: how I passed along with the multitude, how I went on with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, a festive multitude.
vv.1-4 Longing to Appear before God. The faithful compare themselves to the “hart” or deer, which pants for water, comparing it to a thirst or longing for the living God; especially a longing to come and appear before God in the temple as they once did. In v.3 they speak of their tears day and night, while the enemies reproach them by mocking their faith, and saying “Where is thy God?” See Joel 2:17; Matt. 27:43. With sorrow the remnant looks back on their time when they had access to the temple. They can speak of going to the “house of God” alongside with the unbelievers, with “the multitude” into the temple. It seems that it was a joyous time, and something the remnant looks back on with longing.
5 Why art thou cast down, my soul, and art disquieted in me? hope in God; for I shall yet praise him, for the health of his countenance.
6 My God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore do I remember thee from the land of the Jordan, and the Hermons, from mount Mizar.
vv.5-6 The soul cast down. The remnant speak to their own selves about their state; their soul “cast down” and “disquieted”. Really, they are depressed. They speak to themselves to “hope in God”, determined now to praise God in spite of their circumstances. But in v.6 their efforts to encourage themselves seem to have failed. Their soul is still cast down. Then in the last part of v.6 we have a clear picture of the location of the remnant prophetically at the time in which the Psalm is placed. They will have fled into the wilderness, “the land of the Jordan, and the Hermons, from mount Mizar” (Moab, Syria, Lebanon). In Matthew 24:16 we read of the remnant fleeing to the mountains of Judea, but here we find that from thence many are scattered into neighboring countries to the east and north.
7 Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy cataracts; all thy breakers and thy billows are gone over me.
8 In the day-time will Jehovah command his loving-kindness, and in the night his song shall be with me, a prayer unto the GOD of my life.
9 I will say unto GOD my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
10 As with a crushing in my bones mine adversaries reproach me, while they say unto me all the day, Where is thy God?
vv.7-10 Under the breakers and billows of God’s judgment. The remnant feel that the judgment of God is overwhelming them like multiple waterfalls all thundering at once; “Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy cataracts”. To them, all the “breakers” and “billows” of God’s judgment are washing over them. They feel this way, but it could only be really true of Christ Himself, whose spirit joins the faithful remnant. In v.8 they have the loving-kindness of Jehovah and the privilege of singing and praying to God, as their resources during this time of extreme trial. In vv.9-10, the faithful cry out to God to learn the reason of their suffering. Particularly, what troubles them is that God allows the enemy to question the strength and dependability of the One the remnant owns as their God.
11 Why art thou cast down, my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God; for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
v.11 Hope in God lifts the soul. In similar language to v.5 but slightly changed, the remnant once again encourage themselves to hope in God, looking forward to the future when they will praise Him once again. In v.5 they view their praise as the “health of His [God’s] countenance”. In v.11 they have come to find that God is the health of their own countenance! God does not just provide the believer with a bright future, He also shines His beams on the present pathway of the saint who will trust Him. What a precious lesson! This time they add the words “my God”. There is no regression now into sorrow and despair.3
  1. Those whose cry to Him is given in these psalms of Book 2 are no longer in the enjoyment of the ordinary privileges of the covenant through the apostasy of Jewish as well as the oppression of Gentile foes. Hence they are cast on the unfailing faithfulness, mercy, and goodness of God. Thereby a deepening work goes on in their souls, as they learn more of what God is intrinsically, when His outward blessings are cut off and the worst evil seems to prosper; and this most painfully to them, in the circumcised then in Jerusalem, under the man of sin seating himself as God in the temple of God, all there defiantly lawless. – Kelly, W. Notes on Psalms.
  2. From Psalm 42 to 49 is one book of the remnant’s songs. – Darby, J.N. Heads of Psalms.
  3. The reader will remark that in verse 5 it is the help of God’s countenance: in verse 11 He becomes the health of the countenance of him that trusts in Him. This making God Himself to become everything by the deprivation of all blessings, and the exercise of faith in it casting the soul entirely on God Himself, is very precious. – Darby, J.N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible.
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