Psalms 42:5 MEANING

Psalm 42:5
(5) Why art thou.--The refrain here breaks in on the song like a sigh, the spirit of dejection struggling against the spirit of faith.

Cast down.--Better, as in margin, bowed down, and in the original with a middle sense, "why bowest thou down thyself?"

Disquieted.--From root kindred to and with the meaning of our word "hum." The idea of "internal emotion" is easily derivable from its use. We see the process in such expressions as Isaiah 16:11, "My bowels shall sound like a harp for Moab."

For the help of his countenance.--There is no question but that we must read the refrain here as it is in Psa. 42:12, and in Psalm 43:5. The LXX. and Vulg. already have done so, and one Hebrew MS. notices the wrong accentuation of the text here. The rhythm without this change is defective, and the refrain unnecessarily altered. Such alteration, however, from comparison of Psalm 24:8; Psalm 24:10; Psalm 49:12; Psalm 49:20; Psalm 56:4; Psalm 56:10; Psalm 59:9; Psalm 59:17, is not unusual.

Verse 5. - Why art thou cast down? or, Why art thou bowed down? i.e. brought low - a term indicative of the very extreme of dejection. O my soul. The spirit, or higher reason, rebukes the "soul," or passionate nature, for allowing itself to be so depressed, and seeks to encourage and upraise it. And why art thou so disquieted in me? rather, Why dost thou make thy moan over me? literally, make a roaring noise like the sea (comp. Psalm 46:3; Jeremiah 4:19; Jeremiah 5:22). Hope thou in God (comp. Psalm 33:22; Psalm 39:7, etc.). For I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. Another reading assimilates the refrain here to the form which it takes in ver. 11 and in Psalm 43:5. But, as Hengstenberg observes, Hebrew poets, and indeed poets generally, avoid an absolute identity of phrase, even in refrains (see Psalm 24:8, 10; Psalm 49:12, 20; Psalm 56:4, 11, etc.).

42:1-5 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.Why art thou cast down, O my soul?.... The psalmist corrects himself, as being too much depressed in spirit with his present circumstances, and expostulates with himself; adding,

and why art thou disquieted in me? which suggests, that the dejections of God's people are unreasonable ones; sin itself is no just cause and reason of them; for though it is very disagreeable, loathsome, and abhorring, troublesome and burdensome, to a spiritual man, and is ingenuously confessed, and heartily mourned over, and is matter of humiliation; yet no true reason of dejection: because there is forgiveness of it with God; the blood of Christ has been shed for the remission of it; it has been bore and done away by him; nor is there any condemnation for it to them that are in him; and though it rages, and threatens to get the ascendant; yet it is promised it shall not have the dominion over the saints; neither the nature of it, being great, as committed against God himself, nor the multitude of sins, nor the aggravated circumstances of them, are just causes of dejection, since the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin; nor are Satan and his temptations; he is indeed an enemy, very powerful, subtle, and terrible; he is the strong man armed, the old serpent, and a roaring lion; and his temptations are very troublesome and grieving; and it becomes the saints to be upon their guard against him and them; but they have no reason to be cast down on account hereof; for God, who is on the side of his people, is mightier than he; Christ is stronger than the strong man armed, and the divine Spirit who is in them is greater than he that is in the world: Satan is under divine restraints, and can go no further in tempting than he is suffered, and his temptations are overruled for good; besides, good armour is provided for the Christian to fight against him with, and in a short time he will be bruised under his feet: nor are the hidings of God's face a sufficient reason of dejection; for though such a case is very distressing, and gives great trouble to those that love the Lord; nor can they, nor does it become them to sit easy and unconcerned in such circumstances, as they are great trials of faith and patience; yet it is the experience of the people of God in all ages: some good ends are answered hereby, as to bring saints to a sense of sins, which has deprived them of the divine Presence, to make them prize it the more when they have it, and to be careful of losing it for the future. Besides, the love of God continues the same when he hides and chides; and he will return again, and will not finally and totally forsake his people; and in a little while they shall be for ever with him, and see him as he is; and though by one providence or another they may be deprived for a while of the word, worship, and ordinances of God, he that provides a place for his church, and feeds and nourishes her in the wilderness, can make up the lack of such enjoyments by his presence and Spirit. The means and methods the psalmist took to remove his dejections and disquietudes of mind are as follow;

hope thou in God; for the pardon of sin; for which there is good ground of hope, and so no reason to be cast down on account of it; for strength against Satan's temptations, which is to be had in Christ, as well as righteousness; and for the appearance of God, and the discoveries of his love, who has his set time to favour his people, and therefore to be hoped, and quietly waited for. Hope is of great use against castings down; it is an helmet, an erector of the head, which keeps it upright, and from bowing down: it is an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast, and is of great service in the troubles of life, and against the fears of death;

for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance; or "the salvations of his countenance" (h); which implies that the psalmist believed, notwithstanding his present circumstances, that he should have salvation upon salvation; salvation of every kind; or a full and complete one, which should spring, not from any merits of his, but from the free grace and favour of God, expressed in his gracious countenance towards him; and also intimates, that the light of his countenance would be salvation to him (i) now; and that his consummate happiness hereafter would lie in beholding his face for evermore: all which would give him occasion and opportunity of praising the Lord. Now such a faith and persuasion as this is a good antidote against dejections of soul, and disquietude of mind; see Psalm 27:13.

(h) "salutes faciei ipsius", Cocceius; so Michaelis. (i) "Salutes sunt facies ejus", De Dieu.

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