Psalm 42:1-11 and Psalm 43:1-5

To the Chief Musician. A Contemplation of the sons of Korah.

1 As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?

My tears have been my food day and night,
While they continually say to me,
“Where is your God?”

When I remember these things,
I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go with the multitude;
I went with them to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and praise,
With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.

O my God, my soul is cast down within me;
Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan,
And from the heights of Hermon,
From the Hill Mizar.

Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me.

The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me—
A prayer to the God of my life.

I will say to God my Rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

10 As with a breaking of my bones,
My enemies reproach me,
While they say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

1 Vindicate me, O God,
And plead my cause against an ungodly nation;
Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!

For You are the God of my strength;
Why do You cast me off?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!
Let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacle.

Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise You,
O God, my God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

Psalms 42 and 43 in fact constitute one cohesive psalm, as indicated by (1) their use of the same refrain (42:5, 11; 43:5); (2) their focus on the same theme (yearning for God’s protective-paternal nurture); (3) their clear structural division, when taken together, into three parts, consistent with the typically attested psalmic structure: (4) their being treated as a single psalmic unit in early rabbinic sources and presented as such in most Hebrew manuscripts and printed Hebrew editions of the psalms; and (5) their being recited as a single unit in long-standing eastern Jewish tradition on the Feast of Tabernacles (which likewise commemorates God’s nurture of the Israelites). Consistent with its placement at the beginning of the second of the five “books” of Psalms, this psalmic unit focuses on — and hence introduces — the main theme of the Second Book, which , parallel to the second book of the Pentateuch (Exodus) is the theme of God’s paternal-protective nurture, both material and spiritual. — Wechsler, pages 121-122

a contemplation (introduction) — Considering the etymology of this term (conveying the basic notion of “imparting or expressing wisdom”) as well as it’s usage in the Psalms (14:2; 53:2; 41:1) and elsewhere (e.g., Proverbs 10:19; 16:20; 17:2; 21:12), it may be reasonably deduced that a maskil is a type of psalm focusing specifically on instruction in practical wisdom, based on the revelation and unchanging character of God.  — Wechsler, page 97

sons of Korah (intro) — the descendants of those who were not “swallowed up” by the earth for rebelling against Moses (Numbers 26:10-11) and who, from the days of David onward, were among the Levitical singers in the Temple (see 1 Chronicles 6:22-31; 2 Chronicles 20:19) — Wechsler, page 122

the deer pants for the water brooks (v.42:1) — underscores the depth, or vitality, of God’s nurture — i.e., that it is essential to life, just like water to the deer, and not simply a secondary desire or benefit. The psalmist’s specific comparison of the deer to “my soul” (rather than the general pronoun “I”) also indicates that the vitality of God’s nurture extends not merely to our physical need, but also t0 our spiritual need — a point clearly emphasized by the three additional references to “my soul” in this section (vs. 2a, 4a, 5a). The phrase “living God” (v.2) also carries with it the specific connotation of God’s nurture and provision, since the first (and hence defining/paradigmatic) instance in which the adjective “living” is applied to God in the Bible is in Geneses 16:14, in commemoration of His “seeing” and “hearing” (i.e., supplying) Hagar’s need in the desert. So too, the wording of verse four (viz. “procession,” “thanksgiving,” “keeping festival”) is suggestive of the Feast of Tabernacles, which was one of Israel’s three processional/pilgrimage festivals (the other two being Passover and Pentecost) and specifically intended as a time of thanksgiving for God’s protective-paternal nurture of the Israelites during their 40-year sojourn in the desert (see Leviticus 23:34-43). — Wechsler, pages 122-123

So pants my soul for You (v.42:1) — Psalm 63:1; 84:2; John 7:37

When shall I come and appear before God? (v.42:2) — Exodus 23:17

tears (v.42:3) — Psalm 80:5; 102:9

Where is your God? (v.42:3 and 10) — Psalm 79:10; 115:2; Joel 2:17; Micah 7:10

cast down (v.42:5) = bowed down

remember (v.42:6) = call to mind, invoke

land of the Jordan (v.42:6) — on Israel’s eastern border

heights of Hermon (v.42:6) — in the north of Israel — the mountain has three peaks. Hill Mizar is, apparently, a small hill near Hermon

command (v.42:8) = dispense, apply — Deuteronomy 28:8; Leviticus 25:21

It is the Lord’s lovingkindness (v.42:8) as grounded in His covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; Galatians 3:16-18; etc.) that underlies His paternal nurture and, hence, serves as the focus of the psalmist’s appeal. — Wechsler, page 123.

with a breaking of my bones (v.42:10) — the thought here, I think, is that the taunts of his enemies feel as if his bones were breaking

All of this provision (v.43:1-5) is ultimately intended to bring the psalmist (and those of like mind) to God’s holy hill (i.e., the Temple Mount), which is the dwelling places of God’s glory — not only in times past, but also, once His glory returns, for all of eternity — as He reveals to Ezekiel, “This is the place … where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever” (Ezekiel 43:7). The goal of God’s provision is thus clarified: to lead us permanently into the presence and joyful praise of our God (v.4). — Wechsler, page 124.

Both Phillips and Williams see the ultimate fulfillment of these psalms to be in the Tribulation when the remnant of believing Israel will be persecuted by an ungodly nation and a deceitful and unjust man (v.43:1 — the Anti-Christ) and the believer looks back to the time when he could worship with the faithful (v.42:4).

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