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Rob Elphick
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How God makes us glad in a troubled world.
Psalms 90
The Father and the Son ... at work to bring healing, life, and fellowship.
John 5:1-47
Let us go on to maturity, knowing that God's purposes, for his children's good, are secured in Jesus.
Hebrews 5:11-6:3
We have the opportunity to provide our brothers and sisters with a service of eternal value. We do so by reflecting the heart of God.
James 5:19-20
Beware of placing your confidence in wealth. Beware of abusing others in pursuing wealth. If you're in this boat, weep.
James 5:1-6
God alone is the lawgiver and assessor, and he alone can save and destroy. I am in no position to cast a verdict on my brother, so don't.
James 4:11-12
In the midst of my waywardness, God's grace abounds. It is a grace that calls for active, sincere submission, and single-minded devotion.
James 4:1-10
The gospel is worth our focus. Exalt in the excellent; avoid the worthless. Be fair and decisive with those who stir for division.
Titus 3:9-11
Through God's mercy in Christ, Christians are heirs of eternal life, and in need of reminding about how this should affect their behaviour.
Titus 3:1-8
Let our tongues yield the fruit of God's mighty redeeming work. It makes no sense for corrupt words to flow out of a renewed heart.
James 3:5-12
Spiritual maturity means appreciating and chosing what is truly good.
Hebrews 5:11-14
Hold Christ the King as first place in your heart. Hold him as your hope, and when people want to know more, be ready to gently explain.
1 Peter 3:13-16
What does a well-ordered life look like? It is devoted to the Lord, undistracted ... and knows time is short.
1 Corinthians 7:26-35
How can we be free from anxieties? Be anxious about one thing - how to please the Lord.
1 Corinthians 7:26-35
The time remaining is short so live as though undistracted, including in relation to marriage.
1 Corinthians 7:26-31
Look at Jesus. In Him, we are brothers and sisters with God's people of old.
Hebrews 3:1-6
view all (17 total)
Look to God's Word to lead you to God, and hope in Him.
Psalms 42-43
The prayer of the downcast: for God's light and truth to lead him back into communion with God. Meanwhile, he has resolved to hope in God.
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Published June 4th, 2016; Updated June 4th, 2016
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Notes
Psalm 42 contains the well-known refrain " Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. " Psalm 43 also closes with this refrain ( Psalm 43:5 ), and as Psalm 43 does not have a title it has been suggested that the two Psalms go together. I have therefore included Psalm 43 in this study. W hat can we learn from the psalmist about dealing with being downcast? In the midst of his distress the psalmist: earnestly desires God and pours out his heart with tears to God ( Psalm 42:1-3); remembers before God his previous experiences of worshiping God among His people, and even leading the people in this (Psalm 42:4); reflects on God's sovereign hand and the crashing waves of life (that God controls) that have knocked him off his feet (Psalm 42:6-7); affirms his trust in God's steadfast love, while also voicing his perplexity that God has allowed his enemies to cause him such pain (Psalm 42:8-9); and asks that, because he has taken refuge in God, God would defend him against his ungodly adversaries (Psalm 43:1-2). All of these, however, seem to be precursors to his ultimate two-fold prayer: that God would send out his light and his truth and, that these things would lead him to God, (Psalms 43:3). The downcast one, most of all, needs to hear and comprehend God's truth, and for God to apply this truth to his or her heart and mind such that they are brought into renewed fellowship with Him and see Him as their abounding joy (Psalms 43:4). For the psalmist, God is not a concept, but He is the living God (Psalms 42:2). Some other observations: I found no other occasion in the Old or New Testament where light and truth are mentioned alongside each other however light and truth are both used by John to describe Jesus (John 1:14; John 1:5; John 1:9; John 14:6). And Peter describes the ultimate reason that Jesus came, that he might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18 c.f. Psalms 43:3). God has sent out his light and truth in the person of His Son, who suffered and bore our sin that He might bring us to God. What of the psalmist's questions, ...“ Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy ?” ( Psalms 42:9 )? The questions don't appear to be answered in this psalm, but we find Jesus expressing a similar lament (compare Psalms 42:5 and John 12:27a , Matthew 26:38 ). We do suffer and we will suffer, for all variety of reasons, but we know that our Lord Jesus also suffered to become our salvation ( Hebrews 5:7-9 ). And he is our God ( John 20:28 ), and we shall see him again ( Rev 1:7 ). Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalms 43:5 ESV) Note: 1. In relation to verse 2c, n ote Psalms 84:7. Psalms 84, like Psalms 42, is also of the sons of Korah. We read that there are some who 'go from strength to strength', to ultimately appear before God. I wonder if Ps 84 was written after Ps 42, and the outcome of applying the prescription of Psalm 42 (hope in God ...) was that they went from strength to strength.
notes
Arc
OT
Psalms 42:1-43:5
esv
mine
t As a deer pants for flowing streams,
As a deer pants for fresh water
so pants my soul for you, O God.
likewise , my inner man longs for you, O God.
comparison
u My soul thirsts for God,
That is , my soul longs for God,
for v the living God.
that is, [my soul longs] for the living God.
ideaexplanation
When shall I come and w appear before God? 1
That is , I long to see God face to face.
My tears have been my food day and night,
Because tears of sorrow have been with me day and night
while they say to me all the day long,
and they [my adversairies] say to me continually
“Where is your God?”
"Where is this God of yours??"
series
ground
These things I remember,
That is, these things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
while I pour out my soul (with tears, 3a)
temporal
a how I would go b with the throng
I would go with the multitude
and lead them in procession to the house of God
moreover, I would lead them to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise, c a multitude keeping festival.
with joyful shouts and songs of praise, that is, [we were] many, worshiping God.
actionmanner
d Why are you cast down, O my soul,
Explaining , You are troubled, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
that is, you are distress within me.
f Hope in God ;
Yet, [I say to myself] hope in God
for I shall again praise him,
Because I will praise him once again
my salvation 1 and my God.
for he is my salvation and my God.
concessive
My soul is cast down within me;
Furthermore , My soul is still cast down within me.
therefore I g remember you
Therefore I remember you (God)
h from the land of Jordan and of i Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
when I am separated from your presence and your people
inference
Deep calls to deep
Explaining , my soul calls to you,
at the roar of your waterfalls;
while in life's turbulence (you are sovereign over the turbulence)
j all your breakers and your k waves have gone over me.
that is, I have been knocked off my feet and taken under by your crashing waves
By day the LORD l commands his steadfast love,
Yet I know that each day Yahweh commands his everlasting love
and at m night his song is with me,
and at night his song is in my heart,
a prayer to the God of my life.
that is, a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, n my rock:
And yet , I say to God, my rock
“Why have you forgotten me?
I don't understand why you've forgotten me
o Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
that is, I don't understand why I must suffer under the hand of my enemies
As with a deadly wound in my bones,
That is, like a deadly wound in my bones
my adversaries taunt me,
my opponents taunt me
p while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”
in that they say to be all day long, "Where is your God??"
q Why are you cast down, O my soul,
You are troubled my soul
and why are you in turmoil within me?
you are downcast within me.
Hope in God;
Yet [I say to myself again] look to God
for I shall again praise him,
because I will praise him once again
my salvation and my God.
because he is my salvation and my God.
r Vindicate me, O God,
Therefore judge in my favor, O God
and s defend my cause against an ungodly people,
That is, work for my cause against those who hate you,
from t the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!
that is, rescue me from the deceitful and unjust man!
For you are u the God in whom I take refuge;
Because you are the God in whom I take refuge
why have you v rejected me?
Yet, I don't understand why you have rejected me.
Why do I w go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
That is, I don't understand why you allow me to suffer under my enemy's heavy hand.
x Send out your light and your truth;
Nevertheless , send out your light and your truth
let them lead me;
so that they may show me the way
let them bring me to your y holy hill and to your z dwelling!
that is, let them bring me to your holy and into your presence,
progression
Then I will go to the altar of God,
As a result, I will go to the place of sacrifice of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
to God, who is my overflowing joy!
and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.
and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.
actionresult
a Why are you cast down, O my soul,
You are cast down, my soul
and why are you in turmoil within me?
that is, you are in turmoil within me
b Hope in God ;
Yet hope in God
for I shall again praise him,
because I will praise him again,
my salvation and my God.
because he is my salvation and my God.
Do we know what is causing the distress? I'm not sure, but we do know how he is exhorting himself to respond.
He longs to actually be with God, to be done with the distress, because of his suffering and distress.
Do I sometimes think of God as a concept, a vague idea. The psalmist knew Him as the living God.
The psalmist longs for the living God, yet he is in great distress. He is not commended for being in such a state. The deer pants for streams of living water because it has not been able to get to the water for an extended period. It has been chased and in danger. While a person might stop to grab a quick drink while being chased, the deer (so I have read) will not stop until all is calm and any sense of danger has passed. What has caused the psalmist to be 'on the run' and therefore unable to commune with God? Though he is not the author, is this a picture of David on the run from Absalom (2 Samuel 15).
Do these questions get answered? If not, can we infer an answer? What benefit was there in Jesus being made perfect through suffering? (Hebrews 5:7-9) What benefit is there in Christians enduring through various trials? (1 Peter 5:10)
You, the living God, are the one in whom I take refuge.
There is a path to joy for the downcast.
Is his soul still downcast? Is the situation completely resolved? Not necessarily. What will win the day? His circumstances, or, through the power of God's word, his joy in God.
Question to ponder: The psalmist longs for God. To what degree do I identify with this longing? How is a longing for God effected by a love for the pleasures of the world? 1 John 2:15-16.
The psalmist's adversaries noted his trust in God. God is not meeting their expectations.
He had a history of praising God among the people. The psalmist remembers this. Cf. Hebrews 6:10 . God is faithful.
Note the intimacy and trust. Is this the fruit of quiet endurance and trust in the midst of unspeakable difficulties? Is this evidence that he is on the road to gaining a sense of perspective?
I was not sure if Id/Exp or G is more appropriate here? Is ' [he is] my salvation and my God ' explaining who God is, or is it giving the reason for why the psalmist will praise God again? The former would be true. But we can also say that because they are true he will praise him again. By 'again' he might be referring to 'in this life' and/or the resurrection. cf. Job 19:26.
I think this is not so much about the locations, except that they are distant from Jerusalem, and so he remembers God when he is separated from God's presence (God's house) and God's people. Note the importance of the people of God. We rejoice in God with the people of God when we are able - this was an encouragement to the psalmist when he was separated.
God is not envisaged as a concept, but as living.
I was not sure about this relationship, but thought Csv, in the sense that, even though he is exhorting himself to hope, yet still he feels troubled.
John 12:27; Matthew 26:38
The ultimate request : that God would send out his light and truth, and that these unchanging realities would lead the psalmist into thankful and joyful communion with God. The psalmist previously experienced joyful communion with God however that joy was disrupted by the various trials of life. The circumstances are not entirely clear, but the psalmist acknowledges God's sovereignty. Whatever the cause, he now desires above all that God's sure word would lead him back to God.
The tense is interesting in verse 3 and 4. In verse 3 he says 'let them lead me' rather than 'I will follow them.' Is this an acknowledgement of his own weakness and his desire that God's word would take hold of him and lead him? And yet in verse 4 he seems more determined: 'Then I will go ...'
discourse
Comments
Jeannie Koh
Dear Rob Elphick,

I appreciate your work on this psalm, bringing out the hope in God's light and truth, and the realities of facing opposition.  The Notes section is helpful to me, especially about the instances of light and truth.

In going through your arc, I was struck also that in v 8, the psalmist refers to God as "Yahweh", the LORD, in association with His steadfast love.  But all else, it is the "God".  So I wonder if there is some significant to using the LORD in v8 but not elsewhere.

Thank our LORD God for this, I found it particularly encouraging this morning.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.