The writer of Psalm 42 is most likely the same one of Psalm 43 as most scholars believe these psalms used to be combined as one. Verse 5 in both psalms is the same and even 42:9 and 43:2 are similar. While Psalm 42 is attributed to the sons (plural) of Korah, it is written in singular first person (I, my, me). The sons of Korah were Levites and worship leaders (2 Chronicles 20:19). Their dad Korah, with 250 others, led a rebellion against Moses (Numbers 16) and died by God’s divine wrath.(Numbers 26:9-11). Korah’s sons were saved from this (Numbers 26:11) and perhaps wrote this psalm later in life out of deep gratitude for being spared by His mercy.
The psalmist begins by describing his longing for God, panting like the deer. This is not a deer that has choices for drinking out of many streams but is in a dessert and needs a vital drink to spare it from dying from dehydration. He remembers and longs for worship with God’s people in God’s house (v. 4) but knows and shows how God can be worshiped anywhere (vv. 6-7). That is the type of longing and desperation the psalmist has for God. And it should be ours as well! He says he needs “the living God” (v. 2) as though he referring to all the so-called dead gods who cannot offer hope and refreshing. So do we! Notice while all the elements required for living are present – air (pants) (v. 1), water (v. 2), and food (v. 3), the psalmist could not live without worship. Life, it seems, was meaningless without a relationship with God. I agree.
God is mentioned thirteen times in eleven verses and is obviously the center of the psalmist’s affection. He “poured out his soul” before the Lord (v. 4). His soul thirsts for God (v. 2). His emotions are deeply expressed with tears that have kept him from eating (v. 3). He is obviously depressed as he is asking himself why his soul is so downcast (v. 5, 11). He is in mourning (v. 9). Even his bones are painful (v. 10). Have you ever been this desperate for the Lord? What is the solution in times like this? Hope and Praise (v. 5, 11). When life seemed constraining, he recalls the One with no boundaries (v. 6). When life seemed at its end, he remembered God Who created the waters that now refreshingly sweep over him (v. 7). When we are depressed, despondent, and dejected, we must be dependent upon the Lord by praising and trusting in Him!
- Are you downcast (depressed) in your soul?
- Are you calling on and longing for God like the deer in verse 1?
- Is praise and hope refreshing and refueling your life?
God, the living God, I need You. I pour out my soul to You. My thoughts, passions, and emotions are Yours. When I am downcast, I will look up to You, my Rock! I put my hope in You and praise You, my Savior and my God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.