July 11, 2020
Daybreak: Psalms 42:1 through 44:26
“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2)
Those who thirst for God will be satisfied. Jim Seely proved that! Jim grew up being taught the Word of God; his parents came in contact with the Apostolic Faith Church when he was just four years old. Though Jim turned his back on God for a time, he gave his life to the Lord on March 4, 1923, after a church service in Medford, Oregon. Later, God sanctified him.
Often Jim would testify about the thirst for God that sprang up in his heart when he was seeking for the baptism of the Holy Ghost. He said, “I sought for a long time — longer than I should have. I was so thirsty for more of Him! He would bless me abundantly and thrill me with His power, but I would get up and leave without an assurance of having received that experience. I did that time after time, but God was faithful to me.
“I was working as a truck driver for the U.S. Forest Service at the time. One day I stopped for my lunch break at the summit of Hayes Mountain out of Grants Pass, Oregon, and climbed up among the scrub oak. With a rotting log for an altar, I began to pour out my heart to God. I did not get my baptism there, but I want to tell you, when I got into my truck, I was a thirsty soul. Something had happened inside, and I had the assurance I would get my baptism that night at the church service.
“As I was sitting in the meeting, God really blessed me. At the end of the service, I got down to pray. I told the Lord, ‘If You will come down and bless me again as You have in the past, I am going to believe that You have rewarded my faith.’ As I continued to pray, that sweet Spirit of God came once more into my heart. I just reached up by faith and took hold of God’s promise. I can’t tell you how I did it, but I did. That night the Lord filled my vessel to overflowing and gave me the wonderful experience of the baptism of the Holy Ghost.”
The author of Psalm 42 also knew what it was to have a consuming desire for God. In our focus verses, he cried, “My soul thirsteth for God,” and compared his longing to a deer who instinctively seeks to slake its thirst at a mountain stream.
Today, are you longing for something from God? Is there an insatiable desire in your heart to receive from Him? Be assured that God sees that desire, and in His own time and way, He will respond and satisfy your heart.
Psalm 42 is the start of Book II of Psalms (the “Exodus Book”), which is comprised of Psalms 42 through 72. Bible scholars generally agree that this psalm was originally grouped with Psalm 43, forming one poem. The author of these psalms is unknown; it may have been David, during the time of his flight from Absalom, when he took refuge in Mahanaim (see 2 Samuel 17:24).
Along with ten other psalms, this one is dedicated to the sons of Korah, who probably were Temple musicians and assistants. (Korah was a Levite who, according to Numbers 16:1-35, led a rebellion against Moses. He was killed, but his descendants remained faithful to God and continued to serve Him in the Temple.)
Psalm 42 is a psalm of encouragement in times of spiritual depression, when God seems far away. It opens with an expression of desire for God. The “water brooks” mentioned in verse 1 are springs which flow continually from subterranean rivers. The author’s reminiscence in verse 4 of his former unrestricted access to the house of God lends credence to David’s authorship and the setting described above. The refrain in verse 5 is repeated in verse 11, and also in Psalm 43:5; it expresses the psalmist’s hope that his situation would be reversed by the help of God.
Psalm 43 is generally regarded as an extension of Psalm 42; in many Hebrew manuscripts the two appear as one psalm. Although it is a continuation of the author’s personal lament, the glimmer of hope in God grows stronger in these verses.
In verse 1, the psalmist pleaded with God to “judge” or vindicate him; in the original Hebrew, this is a legal term. Though he felt far from God, he affirmed an awareness that his strength was in God. “Thy holy hill” (verse 3) could be translated “the mountain of thy holiness.” “Thy tabernacles” referred to the dwelling place of God.
Psalm 44 is classified as a communal lament. Like the two previous psalms, Psalm 44 is dedicated to “the chief Musician for the sons of Korah,” and identified as a Maschil — a song instructing some lesson of wisdom or piety. The date of its composition is unknown, as is the author. Stylistically, it does not appear to have been written by David. The author may have been some Hebrew patriot who poetically attested to his personal faith, while sorrowing that his fellow countrymen were suffering from a military defeat that brought dishonor and reproach upon God’s people.
While the setting is not identified, this psalm clearly was written in a time of national distress. Israel had been defeated in battle, and the people sold into bondage. “Jacob” in verse 4 represents all of the people of Israel. Verse 11 may point to a post-exile date (sometime after 586 B.C.).
After relating how God gave victory in days past, the psalmist expressed his assumption that God would give deliverance again. Then, in an abrupt change of tone, he complained of the nation’s current defeated state and protested that Israel had not turned from God. He stated that God had “sore broken us in the place of dragons” (verse 19); this may have referred to a specific location where Israel had been defeated in battle, or it may have been a figurative way of stating that the land had become desolate because of the nation’s dishonored condition. In the final four verses, the author called for God’s intervention and vindication.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II. Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III. Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV. Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V. Book V (107:1 — 150:6)
A Closer Look
- In Psalm 42, where did the psalmist recall going with the multitude, and why?
- When we face challenges, why is it so helpful to have an assurance that “our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way” (Psalm 44:18)?
- Psalm 42:8 states, “In the night his song shall be with me.” What song has God given you in the night? How did it strengthen or encourage you?
If we are thirsty for God and continue to seek after Him, our spiritual desires will be satisfied.