Psalm 42

Psalm 42  •  14 min. read  •  grade level: 9
This seems to me to be a complaint of the Gentiles, and therefore specially referable to the latter days. The Remnant are driven out.
8. Here alone “Jehovah" is introduced till Messiah is brought in. And here it is confidence looking out of present circumstances. After Psa. 45 “Jehovah" is used.
The second Book of the Psalms is far more Jewish, properly speaking, treating not of exercises of soul in the midst of enemies in general and before God, but of enemies against Jewish people. There is no mention of resurrection, that I am aware of, at all. Christ may suffer rejection, but it is rejection with His people as a Jew. I recognize what I before remarked, that it is those who have left the city, and are without, and look for Jewish blessing as being without—those previously, it would seem to me, suppose the possibility of being with Christ in resurrection-these would not—the others have a special place, even as preserved on earth. All the ideas are, in this second part, as deprived of Jewish privileges, and then the God of Jacob is with them-praise waits in Zion—it is the judgment of the people, not, as I said, an exercise of the soul with Christ before God. Psa. 42-49 give the historical scope of this, and Psalm 50 its judicial conclusion; afterward come the sentiments and circumstances of exercise through which they pass, and Christ withal sympathizing in suffering with them. Compare Psa. 14 and 53, which are the link, at the same time, as to the position, of the same wickedness which has been against them; Psa. 51 is the repentance, it would seem, after the manifestation of Jesus, when the Spirit of grace and supplication is poured on the people; so Psa. 50, God has called the people to judgment.
Note all this Book is, though of the Remnant driven out, yet still of the people with whom Jesus had been associated in His life here below. He knows what it is to be outside the Camp—the Holy City—and, though Himself crying to God from the ends of the earth (land), to interest Himself in that which was within the city, for, however wicked in their hands, to Him it was the City of God. Hence so much that is still personal though Jewish. They are cast out of Jerusalem when Antichrist is there, but He is with them cast out, and it is still to Him Jerusalem, known in His heart's desire. Hence in Psa. 69 He looks at the condition of His enemies as acting, when God had smitten Him (and the residue), as adding to His affliction. It was not deliverance from Jehovah, when they surrounded Him as in Psa. 22, but, as taking the place of guilt, and smitten of God, He presents the iniquity which oppressed Him, and counts on God saving Zion, not on praising amidst His brethren. The servants of Elohim will inherit it.
In this Book we have evidently the time of the great tribulation, with those features of the sorrows of Christ which have specially this character, so that He went through it, and applies the exercises of His soul to intercession for His people, the residue in that day.
In the first two Books we find the Remnant, and so Christ, driven out, no longer enjoying the public service of God. The second Book, particularly, marks the Jews as concerned in this, the nation lo chasid (not mercied). Psa. 42 is more general, and applies to other enemies and the great oppressor. Psa. 44 to 48 give the pleading of the Lord, on to full restoration. Psa. 49 is the publicly announced moral on it. In Psalm 50 we have the public summons, of God from on high, to judgment, which is apart, not the progress seen and followed by the Remnant on earth. God issues and enters into the scene, and the heavens declare His righteousness—He calls to heaven above as well as to the earth beneath. Psa. 51 gives the moral estate of the Remnant, humbled and contrite, owning its sin, not merely feeling the oppression, so that there is moral separation. After that we have the state in which things are in that day, and in the city also, so that the Remnant of the woman's seed have their portion also here.
In the Psalms which follow, we have the strongest expression of the deep and terrible sorrow in which they will be, but at the same time we find Christ Himself as having passed, as to the distress of it, there, and thus entering into it with them. The tribulation of that day is part of the grand conspiracy against His authority, of which He felt all the force in the acutest way. We have the power of the antichristian tyrant, and the malice of the rebellious Jews; Psa. 55:13, 14; 59:11; 62: 3, 4; 6313But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. 14We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company. (Psalm 55:13‑14)
11Slay them not, lest my people forget: scatter them by thy power; and bring them down, O Lord our shield. (Psalm 59:11)
11But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped. (Psalm 63:11)
(all); 52; so and 55:9, 11. In Psa. 53 we have the character of the wickedness, in extent, which the Apostle applies to the Jews. From Psalm 60 the light breaks in more clearly, and in Psa. 65 praise is ready; God has only to give the occasion in fact—a beautiful and touching thought, furnished by the Spirit! In Psa. 66 the deliverance is celebrated, and in Psa. 67 the blessing on Jacob—the means of making known God's way, and bringing blessing to all the earth. In Psa. 68 God's blessing in Israel and on Israel, as rising up for them, as ever with the ark, is celebrated and, while applied (v. 6), to the establishment of the residue, and judgment of the wicked, it is traced to the exaltation of Jesus on high (the Lord who had erst conducted them through the desert) that He might dwell among the rebellious in grace. The full triumph of blessing, through judgment, is then celebrated by the sorrows of Christ, even to death, from the hands of these wicked Jews. Psalm 70, also, is the effusion of a rejected Savior, but in love to the Remnant.
I have not a very clear idea of the mind of God in Psa. 71. It is clear that the Spirit looks to the setting aside the power of the unrighteous and cruel man It is the language of Christ, but as taking up the position of Israel and speaking on their behalf, i.e., of the Remnant according to the position of Israel- this I suppose to be the application of "old age." They look for deliverance because God had always been their help, and they counted He would not reject them now at the close of their career. He had always instructed them, and they look to be vessels of His knowledge now to those to come. The Spirit looks for the definite setting aside of the power of the usurper. The result is judgment given to the King's Son-a Psalm which needs no comment, and closes the Book.
The occasion of Psa. 71 may have been perhaps Adonijah's rebellion in the extreme old age of David, introducing Solomon; at any rate, we have the seed of David, and, as to the people, no strength, none shut up nor left.
From Psa. 42 to 49 we have a distinct subject—the local circumstances and state of Christ and the Remnant, when Antichrist possesses, and after he is turned out of and they are again in Jerusalem. It is not now Christ or the Remnant in Jerusalem, but driven out, separate—separate from the wickedness—triumphed over by it, and now thirsting after God—thus in separation.
Up to Psa. 42, except Psa. 16, in which Christ takes Was place with the saints as Man, all the Psalms have been as in Israel, i.e., addressed to Jehovah as such. Psa. 16 is specifically Christ taking His humanity, His place as it were as a Saint, amongst His brethren, there at once addressing Jehovah. Now we come to a Remnant cast out—out of the place of promises—their faith (the evidence of life) being in God at any rate; see also Gal. 3 and 4. They are of Korah, not David-poor, shorn, and cast off Israel.
Briefly then Psa. 42 is complaint of the Gentiles.
Note there is the same mixture of enemies without and within, in Psa. 42 and 43, as observed before. In Psa. 42, the Remnant are driven out; God, in the loss of all present portion with Jehovah, is their Hope. Their acquaintance with Him therefore more deep—so indeed necessary. “I had gone with the multitude "; it was a different thing now. Jehovah is matter of hope only. The progress in verses 3-11 has been observed heretofore—"Thy," "my," and "Thy God" added. The nation in Psa. 43 is lo chasid (not mercied), nominally it was chesed (mercy).
From this Psalm then to the end of Psa. 49, we have a collection of Psalms, as noticed heretofore; Psa. 42, 43 and 44, showing the position of Israel as driven out, whether by Gentiles or Jews—the recollection of God's power of old, and the faithfulness of the Remnant in the midst of the suffering; Psa. 45. Messiah introduced, then the God of Jacob owning the Remnant—the Remnant exalted of God in presence of the earth; Psa. 48, God in Zion, and what they had heard of, now fulfilled; Psa. 49, all this is the judgment of man as such—such is the moral of it. From Psalm 50 we have the details of relationship between God and Israel in all this matter.
Note the deep and blessed instruction from a comparison of this Psalm with Psa. 63 and 84. In all they are “athirst" before God, but see the difference. In this Psalm they had been driven out, accustomed to go with the multitude, with a voice of joy and praise, with them that kept holyday. His desire was the need of what he had not got, he was panting like a thirsty hart after the water-brooks. He was taunted as to the public enjoyment of Him—"where was his God?" He had lost the outward manifestation, the common joy. The soul may lean upon that, and in our case unconsciously depend much on it, drink at the streams and pools. He wanted to appear before God; when he remembers these things, he pours out his soul in him. His soul was cast down, still he hoped in God for that which was to come.
In Psa. 63 he is quite in the wilderness, but it is another thing. He also is athirst for God, but it is for Himself, as he had known Him in the sanctuary. He was in a dry and thirsty land where no water was, but his soul was dealing with a known God, and with Himself, not with the joy that surrounded Him, or even appearing before Him, desirable as it was.
He begins with God then, asking God—" Early will I seek thee." It was a longing for Himself. Hence, bitter as outwardly his life was, he could bless while he lived, because Elohim's loving-kindness was better than life; nay, his soul would be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and his mouth praise Him with joyful lips, when he remembered Him on his bed. In all loneliness, he had this ineffable joy of feeding on and delighting in God. It was not: “When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me" but "My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness... when I remember thee," having none else. Thus taught to be satisfied with, and to lean on God, to find his all in Him.
In Psa. 84, he is returning, perhaps through the valley of tears, to fuller communion, and from his knowing God Himself—not only the joy of going with the multitude—he can say " How amiable are thy tabernacles " but it is the desire from delight, not from loss, learned in Psa. 63 " My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of Jehovah; my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God." The sparrow had a nest- surely God's own saint would not want one, even the altar of God, where he could adore Him that was the home and resting place of his soul—his nest.
Hence the house became a sure place of joy, but it was from the knowledge of God. Such was his sense of what God was, that he knew that they that were dwelling in His house would be, could not but be always praising Him. Hence the way there, through the desert, through the valley of tears, had itself its character of joy. God was fully confided in, known—the soul's strength was not in the multitude, but in Him; the valley of Baca is turned into a well, rain from above fills the pools, if there is none from beneath. Such will go from strength to strength, till they appear before God in Zion; that was his desire in Psalm 41. But what a difference, now that he knows, and draws his joy immediately from God! It is good to be deprived of all, in such sort that God may be so necessary, that we may find an infallible spring of joy and strength in Him, and so be able to enjoy His goodness with others.
And note too the difference of Psa. 42 and 63. In the former, the saint was cast out, and was thirsting after God, and to appear before Him. Men were saying in the oppression of the godly: "Where is his God?" i.e., circumstances seem to say it was all no use. Faith then thirsts after, and looks to Him, pleads with the soul, and the soul says to itself: “Well, you have lost all, but hope in God. The health of His countenance will be there, and yours lightened up." It ends with "the health of my countenance and my God." It is by being weaned from circumstances, cast on God directly, and on God as his portion too. Psa. 63 begins here: "O God, thou art my God." And here it is a settled thing, not that the soul has lost anything here, nor even the fellowship of the saints, true loss as that is in its way. It knows itself to be in a “dry and thirsty land, where no water is." The divine nature, as such, has nothing in this world; there is no water for it there, but it is earnestly and with energy directed to what is its necessary and one object—God. So Christ, who came down from heaven, could not (save His own grace) find anything in this world, but He had seen God the Father's glory in the sanctuary. There all His thoughts centered; even as Man, through divine union all His desires were there. So we, for we have known God in Him. It is the proper, diligent search of the soul from its own desires, and this is very blessed—a true divine association with God. We joy in God, and He has been, as an Object of delight, perfectly revealed. It is settled that God is its God, no question or cloud there—it is a known relationship in which it is at home. Then there is the unhindered, earnest longing of the divine nature in us after its true and one Object. He is, besides, our Safeguard, " The shadow of his wings," and help and upholding in the way.
Thus, athirst for God, i.e., directly, because of what He is as our delight, as partakers of His nature, our soul will be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, so that, while we live where there is no water, we shall praise with joyful lips, for while He is enough to awake and draw earnest and longing desires after Himself in His own blessedness, yet this leaves the feeling in the soul at the present," His loving-kindness is better than life," and therefore he who is "of all men most miserable," can "rejoice always." Psa. 87 also speaks of the same longing, but is also somewhat different.
Psa. 42, 84, 63 and the end of Psa. 16 may be taken in this succession, as showing the relationship of the heart with God. The first, distress and longing after Him; then circumstances of joy and blessing which surround Him where He dwells, towards which we are going. Then intrinsic delight in Him; and lastly, the fullness of joy to which one arrives in His presence, in which intrinsic delight in Him is satisfied, and there only. The last is personally Christ, as we know—but through Him, ours too.