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Psalm 42

42:0We think that Psalms 42 and 43 started as one psalm. The Jews made them into two psalms about 200 years before Jesus came to the earth. They did this when they translated their Bible from Hebrew into Greek. See below for more about this.

We do not know who wrote the psalm. What we do know about him is that:

– In the past he went to the house of God in Jerusalem (verse 4)

– He can not go there now (verse 2)

– He hoped that one day he would go back to it (verse 5)

– He was now 200 kilometres north of Jerusalem (verse 6)

– His enemy had taken him away from his home (Psalm 43:1).

This probably happened to many people in the Old Testament of the Bible. Maybe it was someone that King Jehoash of Israel took as a hostage. He took hostages from Jerusalem in Judah to the mountains of Hermon in Israel. The story is in 2 Kings 14:14.

A hostage is someone that is not free. His enemy catches him. He puts him in a place like a prison. The enemy lets the hostage out only when the enemy gets what he wants. Maybe the hostage in the psalm was a Levite from the house of God. We call this house a temple. Levites were God's servants in the temple. He may have been one of the ‘sons of Korah.’ Look after Psalm 43 where it tells you who they were. Sometimes hostages never return home. They die in prison, or in the country where their enemies take them. If the enemy was not Jehoash in 800 BC then maybe it was:

– The King of Assyria in 700 BC; or

– The King of Babylon in 600 BC.

BC means ‘years Before Jesus Christ came to the earth.’ Many of the hostages in Assyria or Babylon never went home.

Whatever story is true, the hostage went through two places before the end of his journey. One was a desert place, where there was not much water but a lot of sand. The other was a group of mountains called the Hermons. Iraq is now where Assyria and Babylon were.

Remember the Good Times

Verses 1-5

This is for the music leader.

It is a maskil for the sons of Korah.

1 My soul cries out for you, my God,

like a hart crying out for streams of water.

2 My soul is thirsty for God, the God that is alive.

When can I come and see the face of God?

42:2Verses 1-2: The hart, or male deer, is thirsty. It is in a desert place where there is no water. It cries while it looks for water. The psalmist says that he is like the hart. The psalmist is the person that wrote the psalm. His enemy has taken him through a desert where he saw the thirsty animal. The psalmist is thirsty too. But he is not thirsty for water, but for God. His body is not thirsty, but his soul inside him is thirsty. He is a hostage so that he cannot go to the temple and see God. In the psalm, ‘not seeing God’ means ‘not worshipping God.’ He did not really see God, he only saw the place where he believed that God lived.

3 All day and all night I cry and do not eat.

All day my enemies say to me, ‘Where is your God?’

4 My soul cries inside me when I remember that:

· I went with a crowd to worship you

· I went to the house of God

· there was the sound of singing

· there was a loud noise of people thanking you and dancing.

42:4Verses 3-4: His enemies laugh at him and ask, ‘Where is your God?’ They are saying, ‘God is not with you now.’ The psalmist remembers how he worshipped God in the temple. There were crowds of people there. They all worshipped God with singing and dancing. It was like a great party or festival. But now he thought that his enemies were right: he had left God in Jerusalem.

5 My soul, why are you so sad?

Why are you so restless inside me?

Hope in God because I will praise him again!

When God is with me, he will do great things for me.

42:5Verse 5: The psalmist tells his soul that although he is sad and restless he will still hope in God. Our soul is that part of us that makes us feel happy or sad. It will still live when our bodies die. Jesus repeated some of these words the week before he died. They are at the top of the psalm. They are not quite the same because Jesus repeated words from the Greek Old Testament, not the Hebrew Old Testament. People made this about 200 years before Jesus came to the earth. Many Jews lived in Egypt where they spoke Greek, not Hebrew. So they translated their Bible (our Old Testament) into Greek. This is the Bible that most of the New Testament quotations are in. A quotation is when someone repeats words from another book. The words are not always the same in the Greek and Hebrew Bibles. Both sets of words are true!

Psalm 42:6-11

6 My soul is sad inside me.

So I will remember you my God from:

· the land of the Jordan river

· the mountains of Hermon

· the hill of Mizar.

7 The deep waters make a noise when your waterfalls thunder.

All your big waves and all your little waves roll over me.

42:7Verses 6-7: In verses 1-5 the psalmist was in dry country, what we call a desert. Now, in verses 6-11, we are in a different country. There is a river and mountains. Where are we? 200 kilometres north of Jerusalem is a group of mountains called the Hermons. Maybe they called one of the hills Mizar, we are not sure. But we do know that the River Jordan started in the Hermons. When it rained a lot the river ran over the rocks and made waterfalls. In places, it was very deep. When he saw the deep water, it made the psalmist think of his life. He felt that his enemy was pushing him along like the water would push him if he fell in! The Hermons were in Israel, where Jehoash was king. Jehoash may have taken the psalmist hostage in Jerusalem. Then he took him through the deserts of Judah to the hills of Israel.

If this is true, an interesting thing may have happened. In the chapter of Kings that tells us the story of Jehoash (2 Kings 14) we read about a man called Jonah. Maybe Jonah knew Psalm 42. He repeated a bit of verse 7 when the fish swallowed him. You will find it in the book of Jonah, chapter 2. Did Jonah learn the psalm from the hostage? Jonah did live in Israel!

8 In the day time the LORD sends to me his kind love.

At night his song is with me.

My prayer is to the God of my life.

42:8Verse 8: This is the turning-point of the psalm. A turning-point is when something changes. You will see two important changes in this verse. First, he calls God by the name LORD. Only God's friends did this in the Old Testament. What happened to make him do this? Everywhere else he used the name God. We believe that what happened was this. He found God was with him in the Hermons. God did not only live in Jerusalem. God was everywhere!

9 I will say to the God that is my Rock,

‘Why did you forget me? Why must I be so sad?

You let my enemy do what he likes to me!’

10 My enemies hurt all my bones.

The people that fight me are always saying, ‘Where is your God?’

42:10Verses 9-10: But there were still questions. (A question is something that you ask.) He asked why God had forgotten him and why he was so sad. He asked why God let his enemies hurt him. And the enemies asked the same question as in verse 3, ‘Where is your God?’ But things are different now. The psalmist is sure that God is with him and he hopes that things will get better.

11 My soul, why are you so sad?

Why are you so restless inside me?

Hope in God, because I will praise him again!

When God is with me, he will do great things for me.

42:11Verse 11: So he repeats verse 5. But this time we think that he said it with more belief that it was true. Another way to say this is that he was more sure of it.

Verses 5 and 11 and verse 5 of Psalm 43 are all exactly the same. We think that this is a good reason for thinking that they are really two parts of one psalm.

There are other reasons:

– Psalm 43 does not say at the top who wrote it.

– Some old Bibles print them as one psalm.