Psalms 42


לַמְנַצֵּחַ מַשְׂכִּיל לִבְנֵי־קֹרַח׃   42:1

Psal. 42:1   A poem for the leader, for the sons of Korach:

The sons of Korach are mentioned in the superscription of nine other psalms.  It is uncertain as to whether this psalm and those others were composed for or by the sons of Korach or were simply sung by them.  As you may remember, Korach himself perished at the climax of his brief revolt against Moses and God, but his sons survived (Numb. 26:11).  In 2Chr. 20:19 Korachites are mentioned as having been in the Temple chorus.  If this latter reference is connected to these psalms, they would have been written sometime after David’s death, possibly even after Solomon’s death, surely after the Temple had been built.                  [Return to Psal. 84:1]

כְּאַיָּל תַּעֲרֹג עַל־אֲפִיקֵי־מָיִם כֵּן נַפְשִׁי תַעֲרֹג אֵלֶיךָ אֱלֹהִים׃   42:2

Psal. 42:2   As a deer might pant for brooks of water,

                              so my soul must pant toward You, God.

צָמְאָה נַפְשִׁי לֵאלֹהִים לְאֵל חָי מָתַי אָבוֹא וְאֵרָאֶה פְּנֵי אֱלֹהִים׃   42:3

Psal. 42:3   My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

                              “When might I come and regard the countenance of God?”

הָיְתָה־לִּי דִמְעָתִי לֶחֶם יוֹמָם וָלָיְלָה בֶּאֱמֹר אֵלַי כָּל־הַיּוֹם אַיֵּה אֱלֹהֶיךָ׃   42:4

Psal. 42:4   It has been for me, my tears were food day and night,

                             with it being said to me all the time, “Where is your God?”

אֵלֶּה אֶזְכְּרָה וְאֶשְׁפְּכָה עָלַי נַפְשִׁי כִּי אֶעֱבֹר בַּסָּךְ אֶדַּדֵּם עַד־בֵּית אֱלֹהִים בְּקוֹל־רִנָּה וְתוֹדָה הָמוֹן   42:5


Psal. 42:5   I will remember these things on my behalf

                              and pour out my soul when I will pass on with a throng;

                      I will walk them deliberately up to the house of God

                              with sound of praise and thanksgiving, a tumult of celebration.

מַה־תִּשְׁתּוֹחֲחִי נַפְשִׁי וַתֶּהֱמִי עָלָי הוֹחִילִי לֵאלֹהִים כִּי־עוֹד אוֹדֶנּוּ יְשׁוּעוֹת פָּנָיו׃   42:6

Psal. 42:6   Why should you be downcast, my soul,

                               and murmur on my behalf?

                      Wait for God, as I will praise Him continually,

                                the salvation of His presence.

אֱלֹהַי עָלַי נַפְשִׁי תִשְׁתּוֹחָח עַל־כֵּן אֶזְכָּרְךָ מֵאֶרֶץ יַרְדֵּן וְחֶרְמוֹנִים מֵהַר מִצְעָר׃   42:7

Psal. 42:7   My God, my soul must be downcast on my behalf;

                               because of this I shall remember You from the land of Jordan and the Hermons,

                       from the hill Mizar.

The referenced places in this verse have been assumed to be in the northern part of biblical Israel.

תְּהֹום־אֶל־תְּהֹום קֹורֵא לְקֹול צִנֹּורֶיךָ כָּל־מִשְׁבָּרֶיךָ וְגַלֶּיךָ עָלַי עָבָרוּ׃   42:8

Psal. 42:8   Deep was calling to deep in the sound of Your conduits;

                               all Your breakers and Your waves passed over me.

The term conduits refers to the paths of rivers.  The second line is a powerful metaphor for the waves of anguish that the psalmist had experienced.

יֹוםָם יְצַוֶּה יְהוָה חַסְדֹּו וּבַלַּיְלָה (שִׁירָהּ) [שִׁירֹו] עִמִּי תְּפִלָּה לְאֵל חַיָּי׃   42:9

Psal. 42:9   By day the Lord might have commanded His loving kindness,

                               and by night her song had been with me,

                      a prayer to the God of my life.

The word in the parentheses, translated by me as her song, is thought to be in error; the heh suffix could denote either a feminine spelling for a masculine noun (indeed an error), or as a feminine pronoun (without an appropriate antecedent -- likewise an error).  So the sages replaced the heh suffix with a vav suffix, a masculine pronoun, making the translation of the word His song (God’s song, that is).  I believe the original spelling is not in error, because the feminine suffix refers to the psalmist’s soul mentioned in v. 7 above, which is an appropriate antecedent.  I believe that in this verse the psalmist was contrasting his daytime experience as possibly of relief from his anguish (because he was distracted by his daytime activities) with his all-night experience of his soul’s murmuring (her song) mentioned in v. 6 above, describing it in the last line as a prayer to his God.

אוֹמְרָה לְאֵל סַלְעִי לָמָה שְׁכַחְתָּנִי לָמָּה־קֹדֵר אֵלֵךְ בְּלַחַץ אוֹיֵב׃   42:10

Psal. 42:10   I might have said to God, “My Rock, why have You forgotten me?”

                               Why should I go mourning at the oppression of an enemy?

Most other translations seem to include the last line within the quotes, making it part of the question.  Those translations start out with something like “I said to God .... “  In such case, the inclusion of the second line in the question would be appropriate,  But because I paid attention to the imperfect tense indicated in the first word of the psalm, I believe the psalmist was using a didactic form of exposition here:  Imagine that the psalmist was thinking, “I could have said ..., but instead I asked myself, ‘Why should I go mourning...?’”  Thus with the tense of the word to say identified correctly, the verse makes much better sense.

בְּרֶצַח בְּעַצְמֹותַי חֵרְפוּנִי צֹורְרָי בְּאָמְרָמ אֵלַי כָּל־הַיֹּום אַיֵּה אֱלֹהֶיךָ׃   42:11

Psal. 42:11   With a shattering in my bones,

                                my harassers taunted me with their saying to me all the time,

                         “Where is your God?”

מַה־תִּשְׁתֹּוחֲחִי נַפְשִׁי וּמַה־תֶּהֱמִי עָלָי הֹוחִילִי לֵאלֹהִים כִּי־עֹוד אֹודֶנּוּ יְשׁוּעֹת פָּנַי וֵאלֹהָי׃   42:12

Psal. 42:12   Why should you be downcast, my soul,

                                 and why should you murmur on my behalf?

                        Wait for God, as I will continually praise Him,

                                  the Salvation of my person, and my God.

Still and all, after this psalm goes on in somber sadness for seven out of ten of its twelve verses, it ends here in a happy optimistic mood.


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