Psalm 42 Commentary

Psalm 42 Commentary

This psalm pictures one of the many moments when the nation of Israel or parts of the nation lived under the yoke of slavery. Israel’s God, famed for His saving power as famously claimed by the exodus, became the object of scorn. “Now he cannot save you,” the enemy would have probably said. “Where is your god?”

Of course, Israel’s enemies thought of the LORD God as one of the many gods around and about. He had failed to protect Israel.

The New Testament saint knows better. The LORD God isn’t one of the many gods. What other gods do or don’t do; what they are meant to be or not to be, or indeed any expectation of them cannot be standards one brings before the Creator God. Let not this battle of comparisons bother the saint today.

My neighbor’s god has bought a green shoe for his worshipper, so let my God buy me a red shoe. It never works that way. The saint has reduced his God to the level of a god. God forbid!

However, the questions raised by the psalmist are real and nearly constant when the saint is in this moment. Where is my God? He had lived part of his life in glory days when he freely went to the house of God. Now he cannot. It is a silly question but which saint hasn’t had one: why didn’t the Mighty One, the LORD I worshipped at the Sanctuary save me?

He, therefore, longs for a moment when freedom would return and he could be back at the House of the LORD. But importantly, the psalmist quickly turns on himself with an important challenge. “Why, my soul, are you downcast?”

The psalm identifies a critical area of understanding. The body or soul speaks. It can be fearful. Always logical, it asks questions and compares. It was meant for comfort. However, the spirit man must prevail. Have hope in God and praise him. The spirit of the transformed man must speak up and command hope and praise to prevail.

Praise can be sanctioned by the veto vote of the Born-again believer in opposition to the wishes and wants of the body. The apostle Paul calls them ‘desires of the flesh. Comfort and physical freedom are among an endless list of wants.

So and regardless of the circumstances, the psalmist praises the LORD. And from this point, he can say: “By day the Lord directs his love.” It is in the present and not in the past. The saint can know and sense the presence of God from the position of praise. The LORD gives him the song in the night which becomes the saint’s prayer. Praise brings the House of God back to where the saint is, regardless of where they are.

From this position, the saint can now present petitions to the Creator God. Probably, the saint can now ask: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” The saint is wondering why all this commotion when the LORD, his Savior, and his God, is only a prayer away

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Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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