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Of The Sons of Korah (Psalms 42-43)

As mentioned in previous posts, I am working my way through the Old Testament chronologically and am in I Chronicles. So, following chapter 26 on the organization of the Temple gatekeepers are Psalms by the Sons of Korah. Korah is one of two families assigned to the gatekeeper responsibilities. Below is a closer look at two of these Sons of Korah "gatekeeper: Psalms 42 and 43.

Psalm 42

For the Director of Music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah

The footnote identifies maskil only as a probable literary or musical term.

This is the famous Psalm 42, inspiration for the hymn: As a deer pants for the water so my soul longs after Thee.

The author is longing for the living God and wondering where he can go to find his God. The author is in a bad place, personally, and those around him are asking, "Where is your God?"

It's easy to picture the author as David as he longingly remembers when he could go to the house of God; but for some reason, now cannot.

Then the authour speaks directly to his own soul and asks why it is so downcast. Encouraging himself to put his hope in the Lord. Knowing, in faith, that the day is coming when he will praise the Lord again. He commit to remember the Lord wherever he goes high or low.

Once he taps back into the hope and faith that sustain him, his transition back to abundant life begins:

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs His love, at night His song is with me--a prayer to the God of my life.

Psalm 42:7-8

The doubts creep back in in verses 9-10 as he suffers loss and pain and in taunted by, "Where is your God?"

Then again restored as he remembers the hope from His Lord and Savior.

I may not have lived the harrowing life of David; but I recognize the sentiment and am immeasurably grateful that he pulls me back from the brink every time though hope and faith.

Psalm 42-43 Wiersbe Commentary
  • Because of the parallel structure and wording, many think that 42 and 43 were one psalm; but no one know why they were separated.
  • Wiersbe think the author was a Levite among Gentiles; who questioned his faith.
  • He was a worship leader who led pilgrims to Jerusalem for the festivals.
  • Wiersbe organizes it in three stages before peace:
    • longing for God v. 42: 1-5 (wanted to go on the pilgrimage to the festivals
      • "he fed on his grief (tears), not a wise thing to do."
      • Gentile idolaters used to ask Jews regularly, "Where is your God?" because he was the invisible, living God. Whereas they had they idols with them and could see and touch them. Sadly, we know those idols were deaf, dumb, and powerless.
      • The author had his ups and downs; but he continued to pour out his heart to God and then admonish himself for forgetting the most important things- who God is and where his hope should be.
    • remembering God- v 42:6-11
      • the author didn't have to go to Jerusalem to be with God; God was with him right there in his storm. God was the waves.
    • trusting God. V 43:1-5
      • Th author went from "living God" 42:2 (impersonal); to "the God of my life" 42:8 (personal, but not very warm) to "God my exceeding joy...God, my God" 43:4 (Very warm and personal)

Psalm 43

Psalm 43 is generally thought of (and in some manuscripts) as one Psalm.

The author, probably David or inspired by David's story, is crying out to the Lord because the whole nation has been unfaithful (which happened more than once).

He acknowledges the Lord as His stronghold, but goes on to wonder why he's been rejected and left to mourn by God, oppressed by his enemy.

He asks for the light of the Lord to lead him to His holy mountain. Once again that longing to be in God's presence that I think drove David so strongly to build the Temple.

Finally ending the psalm by speaking once again to his soul, as in Psalm 42, reminding him not to be downcast and disturbed; but to put his hope in the Lord and looking forward in faith to the day he will praise Him as his Lord and Savior.

On the Other Side

After adding in the Wiersbe commentary which shows Psalms 42 and 43 as a journey of increasing faith and hope in the Lord, as opposed to just three instances of ups and downs...it reminds me (again) why the Lord lets us suffer- we grow in the journey. We learn about ourselves and the world around us and the people around us, and most importantly, we learn about who God is. And if we do that, include God in our study of the journey) we learn who He is IS the journey. He is the storm, but He is also the destination and the road there. He IS our hope. And we come out the other side with more joy and peace than we could have imagined. (although it's always much easier to bask in that on the other side.) Amen.

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