Verse 11. Why art thou cast downl There is no reason why thou shouldst despair. God will appear and release thee and thy brother captives and soon thy sighing and sorrowing shall flee away.
"Who is the health of my countenance " - As a healthy state of the constitution shows itself in the appearance of the face; God will so rejoice thy heart, heal all thy spiritual maladies, that thy face shall testify the happiness that is within thee.
There is a curious gloss on the first verse of this Psalmin my old Psalter, which I cannot withhold from the reader. The author translates and paraphrases the verse thus: - Trans. "Als the Hert yernes til the welles of waters; so my saule yernes til the God." Par. This Psalm es al of perfite men, that er brinnand in the flamme of Goddes luf, and passes in til the contemplatyf lif: and tharfore it es sungen in the office of the dede men: for than haf that, that thai yearned; that es, the syght of God. Far thi, sais he, als the Hert that has eten the nedder, gretely yernes to com til the welles of waters for to drynk and wax yong opayne: so destroyed in me vices and unclennes, my saule desyres with brinnand yernyng, to come til the God.
AElian, Appian, Anstotle, Nicander, and Pliny, all inform us that one cause why the hart thirsts for the waters is, that they eat serpents, and that the poison of them diffused through their entrails produces a burning heat and fever, to ease and cure themselves of which they have recourse to water. Many of the fathers tell the same tale, and from them the paraphrast in the old Psalter has borrowed what is inserted above: "Like as the hart, which has eaten the adder, greatly longs to come to the fountains of water to drink, that he may grow young again." The hart is undoubtedly a cunning animal; but it would be as difficult to believe that he eats serpents as it would be to believe that he seeks for and eats the fresh water crab or cray fish, in order to cure and make him grow young again, as Eusebius, Didymus, Theodouret, Jerome, Epiphanies, Gregory Nyssen, and others of the primitive fathers gravely inform us.
ANALYSIS OF THE FORTY-SECOND PSALM
The psalmist, driven from the assemblies of Modes people, complains; and as men overwhelmed with troubles are also oppressed with grief, so is he; and as they abruptly express their thoughts, so does he; for sometimes he ewpostulstes, sometimes he complains! sometimes he corrects and checks himself for his weakness. One while he opens his doubts, and presently again sets forth his confidence in God. It is difficult on this account to analyze this Psalm; but it may be reduced to these four heads: - I. The zeal of the psalmist to serve God in God's own house; ver. 1, 2, 4, 6.
II. His complaint and expressions of grief for his absence, for his affliction, and his enemies' insults on that ground; ver. 3, 4, 7, 10.
III. His expostulation with his soul for its diffidence, ver. 5, 6; and again with God for his desertion, ver. 9.
IV. His faith and confidence in God's promises; ver. 5, 8, 11.
I. 1. He begins with an expression of his grief for his exile from the ordinances of God, and the assemblies of his people. And he sets forth his zeal and longing desire under the expressive similitude of a hard-hunted and thirsty stag: "As the hart panteth," &c.; ver. 1, 2.
2. He shows the state he was in. 1. "My tears have been my meat day and night;" ver. 3. 2. And the cause was the bitter sarcasm of his enemies: "Where is now thy God?" Where is thy Protector? him in whom thou trustest? II. That which added to his grief was that which gave occasion to this sarcasm, his banishment from the sanctuary.
1. When I remember these things, my absence, their insults, I pour out my heart to myself; tear follows tear, and one complaint succeeds to another.
2. And much reason I have to grieve when I compare my present with my former condition. Formerly "I went with the multitude to the house of God, - with the voice of joy and praise," &c. I had gone; now I cannot and must not go.
III. Hitherto he had expressed his zeal, his sorrow, and his complaints, with their causes. These put his soul in a sad condition; and thus he expostulates with himself: - 1. Blaming himself for his weakness and diffidence: "Why art thou cast down, O my soul," &c.
2. Then presently fortifies himself in God's promises: "Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him," &c.
In all which is described the combat that a good man has when he is in heaviness through manifold temptation, and finds great difficulty to struggle between hope and despair; but at last conquers by faith, and inherits the promises.
3. But his conflict is not yet over; he exclaims again, and still more affectingly, "O my God, my soul is cast down." Of which he assigns two causes: - 1. That though he was ready to remember and serve God, yet he was forced to do it in an improper place. He remembered the pleasant land of Palestine, the stately mountains of Hermon, and the little hill of Sion: but there he could not worship; he was in an enemy's country, and in captivity in that country.
2. The greatness and continual succession of his troubles: "Deep calleth unto deep." Calamity on calamity, one trial on the heels of another; so that he might well say, "All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me." 3. And yet he despairs not, he encourages himself in the Lord: "Yet the Lord will command his loving-kindness," &c. 1. "His song shall be with me." 2. "And my prayer unto the God of my life." IV. On which he grows more confident and courageous, and again expostulates, not now with his soul, as before, but with his GOD: "I will say unto God my rock." 1. "Why hast thou forgotten me?" 2. "Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?" 3. Why am I wounded with grief, "as with a sword in my bones," while they use the sarcasm, "Where is now thy God?" But in the conclusion, after all his complaints and expostulations, he gains a full assurance of God's favour and protection.
1. Chiding himself for his discontent and diffidence, "Why art thou cast down?" 2. Then he encourages his heart in God's goodness and faithfulness: "Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God." The forty-third is most probably a part of this Psalm: they should be read and expounded together, as the subject is not complete in either, taken as separate Psalms. See, therefore, on the following.