Psalm 42

Psalm 42, along with psalm 43 (they are really the one psalm evidently cast in two parts), was most probably written by a Levite who had crossed the Jordan with David when he fled from Absalom during the rebellion. He appears to have been accustomed to conducting pilgrim companies up to Jerusalem for the great festivals. It uses imagery common to many Davidic psalms, that of thirsting for God when a physical need for water was pressing (e.g. Ps 63). The problem in these cases is not immediately the physical needs of the person praying but the question of where God is. God is the answer. What is most disturbing to the psalmists in these kinds of instances is not so much their suffering but their sense of abandonment by God. And in this they show a rightly oriented heart. For they recognize that what they most need in any situation is God. And here again, as in many of the psalms, it is evident that God is standing back, as it were, to let this realization emerge. For faith emerges in hardship and here faith emerges as a passion to find God. The repeated refrain (vs. 5 & 11) sums up the purpose of the prayer. It is to exercise the heart in hoping in God so that the downcast soul would be lifted in faith.

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