Psalm 42

For the Chief Musician. A contemplation by the sons of Korah.
1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants after you, God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually ask me, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember, and pour out my soul within me, how I used to go with the crowd, and led them to God’s house, with the voice of joy and praise, a multitude keeping a holy day. 5 Why are you in despair, my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God! For I shall still praise him for the saving help of his presence. 6 My God, my soul is in despair within me. Therefore I remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon, from the hill Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep at the noise of your waterfalls. All your waves and your billows have swept over me. 8 The LORD will command his loving kindness in the daytime. In the night his song shall be with me: a prayer to the God of my life. 9 I will ask God, my rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” 10 As with a sword in my bones, my adversaries reproach me, while they continually ask me, “Where is your God?” 11 Why are you in despair, my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God! For I shall still praise him, the saving help of my countenance, and my God.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–5

The psalmist looked to the Lord as his chief good, and set his heart upon him accordingly; casting anchor thus at first, he rides out the storm. A gracious soul can take little satisfaction in God’s courts, if it do not meet with God himself there. Living souls never can take up their rest any where short of a living God. To appear before the Lord is the desire of the upright, as it is the dread of the hypocrite. Nothing is more grievous to a gracious soul, than what is intended to shake its confidence in the Lord. It was not the remembrance of the pleasures of his court that afflicted David; but the remembrance of the free access he formerly had to God’s house, and his pleasure in attending there. Those that commune much with their own hearts, will often have to chide them. See the cure of sorrow. When the soul rests on itself, it sinks; if it catches hold on the power and promise of God, the head is kept above the billows. And what is our support under present woes but this, that we shall have comfort in Him. We have great cause to mourn for sin; but being cast down springs from unbelief and a rebellious will; we should therefore strive and pray against it.

Verses 6–11

The way to forget our miseries, is to remember the God of our mercies. David saw troubles coming from God’s wrath, and that discouraged him. But if one trouble follow hard after another, if all seem to combine for our ruin, let us remember they are all appointed and overruled by the Lord. David regards the Divine favour as the fountain of all the good he looked for. In the Saviour’s name let us hope and pray. One word from him will calm every storm, and turn midnight darkness into the light of noon, the bitterest complaints into joyful praises. Our believing expectation of mercy must quicken our prayers for it. At length, is faith came off conqueror, by encouraging him to trust in the name of the Lord, and to stay himself upon his God. He adds, And my God; this thought enabled him to triumph over all his griefs and fears. Let us never think that the God of our life, and the Rock of our salvation, has forgotten us, if we have made his mercy, truth, and power, our refuge. Thus the psalmist strove against his despondency: at last his faith and hope obtained the victory. Let us learn to check all unbelieving doubts and fears. Apply the promise first to ourselves, and then plead it to God.

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