Fairview Baptist Church
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Bailey Sadler Class
SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON STUDY GUIDE - 2014
Theme: Storm Shelter: Psalms of
What This Study Is About:
week’s study is rooted in Psalms 42 & 43 to help us overcome
feelings of despair we may experience when we let our circumstances get us
down, especially at this time of the year.
The Shelter of God’s Presence
The Shelter of God’s Salvation
The Shelter of God’s Forgiveness
The Shelter of God’s Encouragement
The Shelter of God’s Peace
The Shelter of God’s Protection
encourages me when I feel overwhelmed.
Psalm 42:1-3,6-8; 43:3-5
Longing For God (Ps. 42:1-3)
God (Ps. 42:6-8)
For God (Ps. 43:3-5)
OF BACKGROUND PASSAGE:
The title to Psalm 42 ascribes it to the “sons of Korah.”
This was a family of Levites, descendants of the clan of Kohath (1
Chron. 6:22), who served at the temple.
Among their duties was service as a kind of temple choir (vv.
33-38; 2 Chron. 20:19). We
should not take the title to mean that Psalm 42 was written by a
committee. Its ascription to
the “sons of Korah” means that it belonged to a specific temple
collection of songs and that a single member of the guild of Korah wrote
it. Beyond that
information, we do not know when or by whom the psalm was composed.
The sons of Korah had a long history of association with the
sanctuary, and this psalm could have been written during the lifetime of
David or much later. Neither
do we know the specific circumstances that prompted the psalmist to
compose the song.
SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza,
We can often feel overwhelmed by our
circumstances. For many
people, the festive days of the Christmas season are followed by the harsh
reality that we are financially overextended. For
others, it is health or family issues. In
the Bible, we read the words of a psalmist who experienced a down time,
but his words also give us encouragement by pointing to the God who is
above our circumstances.
The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by
Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist
Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.
Longing For God (Ps. 42:1-3)
1 As a deer longs for streams of water, so I
long for You, God. 2 I thirst for God, the living God. When can
I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night,
while all day long people say to me, “Where is your God?”
you believe everybody gets “the blues” at one time or another?
What are some things that might cause a person to get
When are you most likely to get “the blues”?
is the image the psalmist used to describe his sense of despair?
What does it feel like to continually long for
How does it make you feel when you continually
long for something and it never comes to fruition?
does this imagery convey the psalmist’s sense of despair (v. 1)?
on verse 1b, for what did the psalmist long?
do you think a person would long for God (v.
is the literal meaning of the words rendered I thirst for God (v. 2)?
one word in verse 2, did the psalmist use to describe God?
do you think he used this particular word?
might the psalmist have written the words When
I come and appear before God (v. 2b)?
did the psalmist describe the depths of his anguish (v. 3)?
do you think he meant by this description?
spoke the words Where is your God? Friend
or foe (v. 3b)?
on this passage, what do you think added to the sense of despair of the
would you summarize this passage?
Remembering God (Ps. 42:6-8)
6 I am deeply depressed; therefore I remember You from the land of Jordan
and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep in the
roar of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your billows have swept
over me. 8 The Lord will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me
in the night—a prayer to the God of my life.
Though in a great spiritual struggle, what did
the psalmist determine to do (v. 6)?
might the words I am deeply depressed
be more literally translated?
does the word remember mean (v. 6)?
What did he remember
about God (v. 6)?
What geographical elements are mentioned in
these verses (vv. 6-7)?
Do you think they seem out of place in this
How does the nautical language contribute to
Based on this passage, what do you think might
have added to his anguish?
What encouraged him (v. 8)?
you think the words of verse 8 are a way of saying that everything would be
do you believe the words are an assertion of the psalmist’s confidence that
God would eventually bring him through his present time of sorrow?
When you feel overwhelmed, what truths about God
help you keep on keeping on?
Do you think when a believer feels overwhelmed
with the events of their life that it has a negative impact on their
relationship with God? If so, why do
you think this happens?
What are some things that could cause a believer
to become overwhelmed with a feeling of despair?
What are some things you would encourage a
believer to do when he/she feels overwhelmed with the events in his/her life?
Lessons in Psalm 42:6-8:
should be honest with God in our prayers and tell Him exactly how we feel.
need to determine to remember God and all He has done for us—whether we
feel like it or not.
we are depressed, our faith in God can keep us from feeling that we will
never come out from under the despair.
Hoping For God (Ps. 43:3-5)
3 Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me. Let them bring me to
Your holy mountain, to Your dwelling place. 4 Then I will come to the
altar of God, to God, my greatest joy. I will praise You with the lyre,
God, my God. 5 Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in
God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God.
did the psalmist ask of God in verse 3?
in verse 3 indicates that the psalmist was willing to follow God’s
you think the psalmist was asking for a new revelation or new doctrine when he
asked God to send His light and truth?
is a lyre (v. 4)?
(See Digging Deeper.)
did the psalmist commit to do when he made it back to the place of worship?
are the characteristics of a believer who sees God as his/her greatest joy?
rhetorical questions did the psalmist ask in verse 5?
do these questions tell us about the psalmist?
on verse 5, where was the focus of the psalmist?
are some things that will help a believer to stay focused on God in the midst of
turmoil and depression?
do you think staying focused on God will help a believer overcome turmoil and
depression in his/her life?
How would you like to
respond when trouble comes your way?
What are some things
you think keep you from responding in a godly manner when trouble comes your
is it about God’s character do you think gave the psalmist
courage to respond with confidence in the face of adversity?
What does it mean to you to put your hope in
How do you do that and keep it there?
Lessons in Psalm 43:3-5:
Pain can be
an effective teacher, and God does not always remove it right away.
in worship while enduring depression, grief, and confusion can strengthen
godly sometimes experience joylessness.
The writer of Psalms 42 and 43 was discouraged, overwhelmed by his
circumstances to the point of being depressed.
At first, he just bemoaned his situation.
Later, he tried to fix it himself—but his fix didn’t work
because he focused on the wrong thing.
Finally, he found the solution to his despair: he turned to God in
hope. Therein he found the
encouragement he desired and needed?
How much like the psalmist are you?
When you feel discouraged, overwhelmed, or in despair because of
the circumstances of your life, what do you do first?
Like the psalmist do you bemoan your situation and when that
doesn’t help, you try to fix it yourself?
Then, when he fix doesn’t work, do you finally turn it all over
to God? So, where along the
this line do you turn to God? On a scale of 1 (After I have tried it all
myself) to 10 (Above all else) how would you rate your reliance on God as
the best solution when you find yourself in the midst of overwhelming
circumstances? Based on your
rating, how much are your like the psalmist?
Would you like to improve your reliance on God?
If so, He is always standing at the ready!
So why not ask Him for help when you first begin to feel
are the implications of these truths for your life?
THE CHOICE IS YOURS, ISN’T IT!
REMEMBER, the safest place for a believer is in the
center of God’s will.
Lesson Outline, Introduction,
Discussion Questions, and Conclusion adapted from the following sources:
Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources
of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.
Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by
Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville,
Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist
Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.
Passage from three different translations of God’s Word:
King James Version: Psalm
42:1 As the hart panteth after
the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the
living God: when shall I come and appear before God? 3
My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto
me, Where is thy God? 4 When
I remember these things, I
pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to
the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept
holyday. 5 Why
art thou cast down, O my soul? and why
art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for
the help of his countenance. 6
O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember
thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. 7
Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves
and thy billows are gone over me. 8
Yet the LORD will
command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall
be with me, and my
prayer unto the God of my life. 9
I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy? 10
As with a sword in my
bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is
thy God? 11
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?
hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who
is the health of my countenance, and my God.
43:1 Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an
ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man. 2
For thou art the God
of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the
oppression of the enemy? 3 O
send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy
holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. 4 Then
will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp
will I praise thee, O God my God. 5 Why
art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in
God: for I shall yet praise him, who
is the health of my countenance, and my God.
Version: Psalm 42:1-11; 43:1-5:
42:1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my
soul pants for you, O God. 2
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God? 3
My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day
long, “Where is your God?” 4
These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the
multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and
thanksgiving among the festive throng. 5
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why
so disturbed within me? Put your
hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and 6
my God. My soul is downcast within
me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of
Hermon—from Mount Mizar. 7
Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and
breakers have swept over me. 8 By
day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the
God of my life. 9
I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” 10
My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day
long, “Where is your God?”
11 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me? Put
your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
43:1 Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against
an ungodly nation; rescue me from deceitful and wicked men.
2 You are God my stronghold.
Why have you rejected me? Why
must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?
3 Send forth your light and your truth, let
them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you
dwell. 4 Then
will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.
5 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me? Put
your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (NIV)
New Living Translation: Psalm 42:1-11; 43:1-5:
42:1 As the deer
longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.
2 I thirst for God, the living God.
When can I go and stand before him? 3
Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me,
saying, “Where is this God of yours?” 4
My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds
of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy
and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!
5 Why am I discouraged? Why is
my heart so sad? I will put my hope
in God! I will praise him again—my
Savior and 6 my God!
Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you—even from distant
Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar.
7 I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves
and surging tides sweep over me. 8 But each day the LORD
pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs,
praying to God who gives me life. 9
“O God my rock,” I cry, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I
wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?”
10 Their taunts break my bones. They scoff,
“Where is this God of yours?” 11 Why
am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!
43:1 Declare me innocent,
O God! Defend me against these ungodly people. Rescue me from these
unjust liars. 2
For you are God, my only safe haven. Why
have you tossed me aside? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by
my enemies? 3 Send
out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let
them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live.
4 There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the
source of all my joy. I will praise
you with my harp, O God, my God! 5
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in
God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!
Outline — “The Shelter of God’s Encouragement” — Psalm 42:1-11; 43:1-5
Longing For God (Ps.
Remembering God (Ps. 42:6-8)
Hoping For God (Ps. 43:3-5)
Commentary for the focal passage comes from three sources: “The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Old
“Believer's Bible Commentary,” and “The Complete Biblical Library Commentary,” and is provided for your study.)
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Old Testament; Psalm 42:1-11; 43:1-5:
Psalms 42--43: Hoping in the Lord’s Salvation
The literary unity of Psalms 42 and 43
is such that they should be treated as one psalm. Even though the MT and LXX
keep them separate, there are internal arguments for their unity: (1) the
absence of a superscription above Psalm 43; (2) the repetition of a refrain
(42:5, 11; 43:5); (3) development of thought from remembrance (42:4, 6)
to a specific hope of restoration (43:3); and (4) the lament form. On the
variety of expressions of hope in lament psalms, see the excellent article by
Yair Hoffman, “The Transition from Despair to Hope in the Individual Psalms of
Lament,” Tarbiz 55 (1985/86): 161-72 (Heb.). Each psalm is an individual
lament. Even though the life-situation remains controversial, it is evident
that the psalmist was isolated from the temple worship. He may have been a
refugee, but it is more likely that he had been exiled to Aram, Assyria, or
Babylon and was in the hands of taunting captors (vv. 3, 10). The
structure is built around questions and a threefold refrain (42:5, 11; 43:5).
The psalmist questions God (42:2b, 9; 43:2) and himself (42:5, 11; 43:5),
as his enemies taunt him, “Where is your God?” (42:3, 10). The refrain
responds to the questions and exhorts the psalmist and the reader to faith and
hope. The expository structure is as follows: A. Lament (42:1-4) B. Hope (v. 5)
A’. Lament (vv. 6-7) B’. Hope (v. 8) A’’. Lament (vv. 9-10)
B’’. Hope (v. 11) A’’’. Lament (43:1-4) B’’’. Hope (v. 5)
The apparent to-and-fro movement takes us from a remembrance of the past through
a reflection on the present sufferings to an anticipation of God’s vindication
I. Lament (42:1-4) 42:1-3 The
longing of the psalmist for God’s presence is clear from simile and the
references to God. First, the simile of the “deer” (“hart”) expresses
the intense yearning for a taste of God’s presence. The deer looks until it
finds water and quenches its thirst with great joy. So the psalmist longs for
God’s presence with his whole being (nepesh “soul”). As usual
“soul” does not denote the spiritual aspect of man exclusively. He intensely
longs for (“pants for.... thirsts,” vv. 1-2; cf. 63:1) fellowship
with God and will not be content until he may return to Jerusalem and praise God
with great joy (43:4). So strong is his physical longing for God that we may
agree with C.S. Lewis, who described the psalmists’ craving for God as an
“appetite for God” (Reflections on the Psalms, p. 51). Second, in the
references to God, the psalmist’s longing for God increases in intensity. He
addresses him as “God” (v. 1), then as “the living God,” and
finally expresses his profound hope to see “the face of God” (MT; NIV,
“meet with God,” v. 2). It may well be that the phrase “living God”
(v. 2; 84:2; Deut 5:26; Hos 1:10) is associated with the
imagery of God as “living water” (cf. Jer 2:13; 17:13), the
fountain of life (Ps 36:8-9). In v. 8 the psalmist speaks of him as “the
God of my life,” water and life being closely associated. In view of his need
of God, the psalmist asks when he can return and experience once again the
presence of God. He wants to “meet with God” in the temple on Mount Zion (v. 2; 84:7).
The question is partly rhetorical and functions as one question in a chain of
questions (vv. 8-9; 43:1). The rhetorical aspect of the question lies
in the problem of how a man who desires God’s presence can experience
alienation from God. The question finds its resolution in the development of
these psalms. The psalmist is hemmed in by his own question, by his longing for
God’s presence (v. 2), and by his enemies who tauntingly ask, “Where is
your God?” (v. 3; 10:11; 12:4; 59:7; 64:5; 71:11; 73:11; 94:7; 115:2; Mic
7:10). Living in isolation from the land, he could not experience God’s
presence in the magnificent structure of the temple. Down deep in his heart he
asked the same question, “Where is my God?” For this reason he mourns
continually. The depth of his sorrow is hyperbolically expressed by “tears”
as his “food” (v. 3; cf. 80:5; 102:3-11; Job 3:24). The
taunts of the enemies serve to bring him closer to despondency. For the present
it seems as if God does not have the power to deliver. With these questions he
lives continually (“all day long,” vv. 3, 10). Not knowing where
else to turn, he looks back in remembrance, digs deeply into his own soul, and
then looks to God for the final answer to his despairing feeling.
42:4 Adverse conditions
create an optimum context for reflection. The psalmist cannot do much more than
to “remember.” He remembers “these things.” What things did he remember?
He meditated on the pilgrimages to the temple, the festive celebrations, and
God’s triumphs in the history of salvation. During the three annual pilgrimage
festivals (Passover, Firstfruits, and Tabernacles; cf. Exod 23:17; 34:18-26; Lev
23:4-44; Deut 16:1-17), the pilgrims gathered in Jerusalem and presented
their offerings and sacrifices with great rejoicing. It is true that many people
were apostates, as the prophets bear out. However, the godly minority (the
remnant) focused their hope on a purification of the people, a catharsis of the
temple worship, and a new age. The period of exile was the transition between
the old age and the new age. The transition period proved immensely difficult
for the godly (cf. Ps 137; Lam 1-5). The pouring out of the soul is an
expression of the intensity of one’s emotions (cf. 62:8; 142:4-7; 1
Sam 1:15; Job 30:16; Lam 2:19).
II. Hope (42:5-6a) 42:5-6a The
psalmist analyzes his feelings and asks questions of himself (vv. 5, 11; 43:5).
The threefold refrain reflects the emotional state of many of God’s people
during the Exile and, for that matter, any crisis situation. The inner feelings
express themselves in questions, despair, and hope in God. The questions are
overtaking him. Yet, while hemmed in by the questions in his desperate
situation, he still could engage himself in dialogue. There was no voice from
God. In the loneliness of alienation, his faith was tried and triumphed! Faith
and doubt are twins; and when doubt seemed to triumph, true faith calmed its
questions. Faith answered. Faith despairs and despair hopes! Hope leads the
psalmist away from despair. His hope is in “God,... my Savior and my God.”
Hope, in essence, is waiting for God to act (cf. 38:15; 39:7). Hope is
focused on the glorious acts of salvation and victory of which the Law,
Historical Writings, and Prophets speak. Hope longs for the “praise” of God
for the acts of salvation. Hope says, “You are my God,” in anticipation of
the fulfillment of the promises, even when help is far off.
III. Lament (42:6b-7) 42:6b-7 Yet, in
spite of the psalmist’s reflections and expression of the triumph of hope, the
experience of alienation is still there. He is still “downcast” (v. 6).
Therefore he returns in his memories to the Promised Land, symbolized here by
“the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon” (v. 6). The upper
Jordan Valley, the Hermon Range with its peaks reaching nine thousand feet above
sea level, and the unknown Mount Mizar point our attention to the region of the
sources of the Jordan River. The psalmist returns to the water imagery with
which the psalm began. But this time the memories of water are overshadowed by a
deep sense of despair. The waterfalls with its rocks, breakers, and waves, and
its awesome noise of the rushing and falling waters metaphorically portray his
condition. Instead of enjoying the “living water” of the “living God,”
he is continually faced with an expression of God’s judgment. He has no
control over his present circumstances and undergoes the present troubles, not
knowing where he will end up. Has doubt triumphed?
IV. Hope (42:8) 42:8 In his
self-doubt the psalmist remembers the covenant love of the Lord. By day and
night he experienced the evidences of God’s care, protection, and blessing. He
sang praises to him and prayed to him morning and evening (cf. 92:2). That
was a time of fellowship with a God who was always present. The very experience
of communion with God made Yahweh “real” to him as “the God of my life”
(cf. 66:9). In contrast to the past experience, his “love” (hesed)
seems to be lost; and the psalmist’s praise of God’s love has changed into
continual mourning for God’s absence (cf. v. 3). God’s continual love
is a comfort for the soul continually beset by questions and mourning (cf. v. 3).
V. Lament (42:9-10) 42:9-10 In his
moments of doubt and reflection on God’s absence, the psalmist raises
questions to God. He asks these questions in faith, because he remembers who his
God is: “God my Rock” (v. 9). Regardless of how despairing the
situation, the Lord is still “the Rock” of Israel. He is the place of refuge
(18:2). He asks twice pointedly “why” God has forgotten him (v. 9; cf. 13:1; 22:1; 77:9; 88:14).
In the present situation, the psalmist has no other recourse than mourning in
the agony of his own perplexity (cf. 35:14; 38:6). He has been
abandoned to godless men, who taunt him continually with the same mocking
question, “Where is your God?” (v. 10). He is like a dying man, and his
God, the Rock, is silent. His whole being (“my bones”; cf. 6:2) is
distressed by his foes and by God’s silence.
VI. Hope (42:11) 42:11 These
reflections bring the psalmist again to a point of despair, self-examination,
and an affirmation of hope in the future saving acts of God (cf. comment and
note on v. 5).
VII. Lament (43:1-4) 43:1-2 Thus far
the psalmist has called God “the living God” (42:2), “the saving acts” (NIV,
“my Savior,” 42:5), “my God” (42:6, 11), “the LORD”
(Yahweh, 42:8), “the God of my life” (42:8), and “God my Rock”
(42:9). Moreover, he has expressed hope in seeing God’s presence (42:2) and
the acts of love (42:8) and salvation evidencing his presence (42:5-6, 11).
In this last couplet he intensifies his prayer for redemption and for the
enjoyment of fellowship with the Lord. He has demonstrated his love (hesed 42:8)
in the past, but the psalmist is not satisfied until he is fully restored to his
God. In his distress he calls the Lord “God my stronghold” (v. 2; or
“refuge,” cf. 27:1; 28:8; 31:3; 37:39). Not only is he
the Rock of refuge, but also he is the Deliverer of his people in need. This God
is powerful to “vindicate” (v. 1, sh-p-t; cf. 7:8; 26:1; 35:24)
him in the sense that Yahweh alone can defend him, prosecute the enemy, and
execute his verdict (r-y-b “plead my cause,” v. 1; 35:1, 23:
“contend for”) against the enemies. The psalmist has gone around as in
“mourning” (42:9; 43:2) because of the absence of God and because of
the antagonism of the ungodly. The questions (v. 2) are similar to those of
the previous strophe (42:9). But the second question is more forceful. The
change from “forgotten” (42:9) to “rejected” (cf. 44:9, 23)
must be observed. As long as God is silent, anguish becomes unbearable (cf. Lam
43:3-4 In the darkness of the
adversities, there is no other way than to ask the covenant God to remain
faithful to his promises. In despondency and astonishment, his questions and
doubt, the palmist asks God for his “light” and “truth” (v. 3). The
light of God is the experience of the fullness of his redemption (36:9; Isa
58:8, 10; 60:1, 3). The “truth” (‘emeth) of God is
the expression of his covenantal fidelity (40:10; 57:3). If only God will
send these two personified expressions of his love to “guide” him back, then
he will experience restoration. This verse leads to the answer of the original
petition: “When can I go and meet with God?” (42:2). Possibly the psalmist
reflects on the wilderness experience with the pillar of cloud and smoke guiding
Israel through the barren wasteland. Then too the Lord was faithful to his
people and brought them to the Promised Land. The psalmist’s concern is not
with land or possessions but for a return to Jerusalem, “your holy mountain”
(v. 3; cf. 2:6; 3:4; 15:1; 48:2; 99:9). The
anticipation to return to “the altar of God” (v. 4) and the temple
relates back to his remembrance of the pilgrimage festivals (v. 3; 42:4).
It is the place of God’s “dwelling” (NIV, “the place where you dwell”;
see appendix to Ps 132: The Ark of the Covenant and the Temple: Symbols of
Yahweh’s Presence and Rule). Redemption will result in great joy. This
requires another designation for God. The God who is “my stronghold” (v. 2)
becomes known as “God, my joy and my delight” (v. 4). Hope breaks
through in this look to the restoration to come. He can imagine himself already
playing the lyre (cf. 33:2; see appendix to Ps 150: Musical
Instruments) as an expression of the joy of his redemption.
VIII. Hope (43:5)
43:5 The refrain returns to
the conflict between faith and doubt, to the contrast between the present and
the future, and to the hope that “I will yet praise him.”
SOURCE: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Old
Testament; Frank E. Gaebelein; General Editor;
Zondervan Publishing House; A Division of Harper Collins Publishers
Bible Commentary – Psalm 42:1-11;
Psalm 42: Thirsting for God
Some people hear the voice of David in this
Psalm as he wandered in exile during the rebellion of his own son, Absalom.
Others recognize the voice of the Messiah during
the time of His rejection and suffering.
Still others detect the plaintive sob of the
Jewish remnant during the future Tribulation Period.
Then there are those who like to apply it to the
believer as he looks back on the days of his first love and longs for the
renewal of that kind of fellowship with the Lord.
Fortunately, it is not necessary to isolate one
view, since all of them are legitimate applications. This is typical of the
versatility of the Psalms.
inner longing for fellowship with God can be compared to the vehement
craving of the deer as it wanders through the parched countryside, its
sides throbbing and its breathing quickened as it longs for the brooks.
Gamaliel Bradford transferred the picture to himself when he said:
My one unchanged
Wheresoe'er my feet have
Is a keen, enormous,
Never-sated thirst for
thirst is for God alone; no one else will do. And it is for the living
God—not for a dead idol. It is a desire that will only be fully satisfied
by a personal appearance before the Lord and the privilege of gazing on His
Show me Thy face, one
transient gleam of loveliness divine,
And I shall never think
or dream of other love than thine;
All lesser lights shall
darken quite, all lower glories dim,
The beautiful of earth
will ne'er seem beautiful again.—Author unknown
can describe the bitterness of separation from the Lord? It is like a continual
diet of tears, a life of unalleviated misery. As if that were not enough,
there is the added grief of the enemies' taunts, "Where is your
God?" This is what Shimei meant when he said to David, "So now you
are caught in your own evil, because you are a bloodthirsty man!" (2 Sam.
16:8). And this is what the chief priests meant when they said of the crucified
Messiah, "He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have
Him..." (Matt. 27:43).
of course, there is the memory of better days. It is the remembrance of how
wonderful it was to walk in unbroken fellowship with God that makes the
absence of this fellowship so intolerable. Knox wonderfully captures the mood in
his translation of verse 4:
Memories come back to me yet, melting the heart;
how once I would join with the throng, leading the way to God's house, amid
cries of joy and thanksgiving, and all the bustle of holiday.
thought of the happy past leads to spiritual depression and activates a
ping-pong struggle between pessimism and faith. The soul becomes downcast
and disquieted, but faith challenges the tension of this burdened state
Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.
If this were just a pious optimism that
"everything will turn out all right," it would be an utterly worthless
sentiment. What makes this hope 100% valid is that it is based on the promise of
God's Word that His people will see His face (Ps. 17:15; Rev. 22:4).
depression recurs in cycles. But faith strikes back with the confident assertion
that it will remember God from the land of the Jordan and of
Hermon and from the Hill Mizar. Perhaps these three places symbolize
three spiritual experiences; we do not know. What does seem clear is that they
represent the land of exile, far removed from the house of God in Jerusalem. And
the thought seems to be that even when we cannot visit the house of God, we can
still remember the God of the house!
we come to the seventh verse, our spiritual instincts tell us that in a very
special way we are at Calvary, hearing the cries of the Lord Jesus as the waves
and billows of God's judgment rolled over Him. The cataracts of divine wrath
cascaded down upon Him with resounding thunder as He bore our sins in His own
body on the cross.
View that closing scene
All God's waves and
Over Him, there left to
On the Cross, to save my
Matchless love! how
vast! how free!
Jesus gave Himself for
me.—J. J. Hopkins
as George Müller said, "Trials are food for faith to feed on." So we
hear the confident believer affirm:
The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night
His song shall be with me—a prayer to the God of my life.
This is the answer to the day-and-night sequence
in verse 3. There the psalmist had said, "My tears have been my food day
and night...." But now the day is filled with God's steadfast love and the
night is filled with song and prayer. So by day and by night God's
goodness is proven.
42:9, 10. Once again discouragement returns, this time
because of the relentless oppression of the enemy. It seems that God has forgotten
His child. The forlorn believer wanders about like a mourner. He says,
"With cries that pierce me to the heart, my enemies revile me" (Gelineau).
From all outward appearances it would seem that God has forsaken His child. So
the enemies taunt him continually with the question, "Where is
faith always has the last word. Don't be discouraged. Don't be unsettled. Hope
in God; you will be delivered from your enemies and from your depression as
well. And you'll praise Him once again as your Savior and your God. As
someone has said:
The remedy—challenge depression, look up,
hope. The Christian life is alertness, upward striving, activity, the running of
a race. It is never downcast eyes, folded hands and the acceptance of defeat.
Psalm 43: Send Out Your Light and Your Truth
This is a twin to the preceding Psalm. The
connection is so great that the NEB links them together as if they were one
43:1, 2. Here
we have the continued prayer of an exile who wants to worship in Zion but is
opposed by an apostate nation and an unjust man. This may picture
the oppression of the godly Jewish remnant during the Tribulation Period by the
unbelieving nation of Israel and the Antichrist.
First comes the plea for vindication and for
help. The psalmist asks God to defend the cause of His people against
their unbelieving brethren and the man of sin. It is one of faith's agonies to
take refuge in God and yet feel cast off by Him; it is one of faith's
puzzles to be on the winning side and yet suffer under the heel of the enemy.
43:3. Then follows a
positive and specific prayer for the return to Zion. The beauty of the language
Oh, send out Your light
and Your truth!
Let them lead me;
Let them bring me to
Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacle.
The psalmist wanted an escort consisting of the light
of God's presence and the truth of God's promise. With these to lead him
and with goodness and mercy following him (Ps. 23:6), he was assured of a glad
return to God's holy hill.
the progression in verses 3 and 4:
To Your holy hill;
To Your tabernacle;
To the altar of God;
To God my exceeding joy.
The true worshiper is satisfied with neither a
geographical location nor a building nor an altar. He must get through to God
by the prospect of appearing before God, the writer once again remonstrates with
himself for being disheartened and troubled. Have faith in God, he urges,
and He will surely bring you to your desired end.
Be still, my soul: thy
best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways
leads to a joyful end!—Katharina von
Believer's Bible Commentary; by William
MacDonald; Copyright © 1995, 1992, 1990, 1989 by William McDonald.
Database © 2014 WORDsearch.
Complete Biblical Library Commentary: Psalm 42:1-11; 43:1-5:
42:1-5. The “soul” (HED #5497) is feminine in Hebrew
and is here compared to the female deer, for “pants” is the feminine form of
the verb, although its noun is masculine. It is better therefore to translate
“hind” than “hart.” The soul is the seat of emotions and desires. It
pants and thirsts, is cast down and disquieted. It is poured out; it can be
bidden to hope. Thus, tremulous, timid and mobile, it is beautifully compared to
a hind. The true object of its longings is always God, however little it knows
for what it is thirsting. But they are happy in their very yearnings who are
conscious of the true direction of these and can say that it is God for Whom
This man’s longing was intensified by his unwilling exile from the
sanctuary, a special privation to a door keeper of the Temple. His situation and
mood closely resemble those in another Korahite Psalm (Ps. 84), in which, as
here, the soul “faints for the courts of the Lord,” and as here the panting
hind, so there the glancing swallows flitting about the eaves are woven into the
song. Unnamed foes taunt the psalmist with the question, “Where is thy God?”
There is no necessity to conclude that these were heathens, although the taunt
is usually put into heathen lips (Pss. 79:10; 52:2), but it would be quite as
natural from co-religionists, flouting their fervor and personal grasp of God
and taking their sorrows as tokens of God’s abandonment of them. That is the
world’s way with the calamities of a devout man, whose humble cry, “my
God,” it resents as presumption or hypocrisy.
Verse 5 has the refrain in a form slightly different from that of the
other two instances of its occurrence (v. 11 and 43:5). But the text is probably
faulty. The shifting of the initial word of v. 6 to the end of v. 5 and the
substitution of “my” for “his” bring the three refrains into line and
avoid the harsh expression “help of his countenance.” Since no reason for
the variation is discernible and the proposed slight change of text improves
construction and restores uniformity, it is probably to be adopted. If it is,
the second part of the Psalm is also conformed to the other two in regard to its
not beginning with the divine name.
42:6-8. With wise resolve, he finds in dejection a reason
for nestling closer to God. In reference to the description of the psalmist’s
locality, the preposition “from” (HED #4623) is chosen (rather than
“in”) with a subtle purpose. It suggests that the psalmist’s faith will
bridge over the interval between himself and the sanctuary: “I can send my
thoughts to Thee from the distant frontier.” The region intended seems to be
the northeastern corner of Palestine, near the lower slopes of Hermon. The
plural Hermons is probably used in reference to the group of crests. Mizar is
probably the name of a hill otherwise unknown and specifies the singer’s
locality more minutely, although not helpfully to us. Many ingenious attempts
have been made to explain the name either as symbolic or as a common noun and
not a proper name.
The twofold emotions of v. 6 recur in vv. 7f, where there is first
renewed despondency and then reaction into hope. The imagery of floods lifting
up their voices, cataracts sounding as they fall and breaking waves rolling over
the half-drowned psalmist has been supposed to be suggested by the scenery in
which he was. But the rushing noise of Jordan in its rocky bed seems scarcely
enough to deserve being described as “flood calling to flood,” and
“breakers and rollers” is an exaggeration if applied to any commotion
possible on such a stream. The imagery is so
usual that it needs no assumption of having been occasioned by the poet’s
locality. The dry and thirsty land there and the rush of waters here mean the
same thing, so flexible is nature in a poet’s hands.
42:9-11. Then follows a gleam of hope, like a rainbow
spanning the waterfall. With the alternation of mood already noticed as
characteristic, the singer looks forward, even from the midst of overwhelming
seas of trouble, to a future day when God will give his angel, mercy or
steadfast love, charge concerning him and draw him out of many waters. That day
of extrication will surely be followed by a night of music and of thankful
prayer (for supplication is not the only element in prayer) to Him Who by his
deliverance has shown himself to be the God of the rescued man’s life. The
epithet answers to that of the former part, “the living God,” from which it
differs by but one additional letter. He Who has life in himself is the Giver
and Rescuer of our lives, and to Him they are to be rendered in thankful
sacrifice. Once more the contending currents meet in vv. 9f, in the former of
which confidence and hope utter themselves in the resolve to appeal to God and
in the name given to Him as “my Rock”; while another surge of despondency
breaks, in the question in which the soul interrogates God, as the better self
had interrogated her, and contrasts almost reproachfully God’s apparent
forgetfulness, manifested by his delay in deliverance, with her remembrance of
Him. It is not a question asked for enlightenment’s sake, but is an
exclamation of impatience, if not of rebuke. Verse 10 repeats the enemies’
taunt, which is there represented as being like crushing blows which broke the
bones. And then once more, above this conflict of emotion soars the clear note
of the refrain, summoning to self-command, calmness and unfaltering hope.
43:1-2. But the
victory is not quite won, and therefore Ps. 43 follows. It is sufficiently
distinct in tone to explain its separation from the preceding, inasmuch as it is
prayer throughout, and the note of joy is dominant, even while an undertone of
sadness links it with the previous parts. The unity is vouched by the
considerations already noticed, by the incompleteness of Ps. 42 without such
triumphant close and of Ps. 43 without such despondent beginning. The prayer of
vv. 1f blends the two elements, which were at war in the second part, and for
the moment, the darker is the more prominent. The situation is described as in
the preceding parts. Perhaps there was one “man” of special mischief
prominent among them, but it is not safe to treat that expression as anything
but a collective. Verse 2 looks back to 42:9, the former clause in each verse
being practically equivalent, and the second in Ps. 43 being a quotation of the
second in v. 9, with a variation in the form of the verb to suggest more vividly
the picture of weary, slow, dragging gait, fit for a man clad in mourning garb.
43:3-5. But the
gloomier mood has shot its last bolt. Grief which finds no fresh words is
beginning to dry up. The stage of mechanical repetition of complaints is not far
from that of cessation of them. So the higher mood conquers at last and breaks
into a burst of joyous petition, which passes swiftly into realization of the
future joys whose coming shines thus far off. Hope and trust hold the field. The
certainty of return to the Temple overbears the pain of absence from it, and the
vivid realization of the gladness of worshiping again at the altar takes the
place of the vivid remembrance of former festival.
The actual return to the Temple is desired because thereby new praise
will be occasioned. Not mere bodily presence there, but joyful outpouring of
triumph and gladness is the object of the psalmist’s longing. He began with
yearning after the living God. In his sorrow, he could still think of Him at
intervals as the help of his countenance and call Him “my God.” He ends with
naming Him “the gladness of my joy.” Whoever begins as he did will finish
where he climbed. The refrain is repeated for a third time and is followed by no
relapse into sadness. The effort of faith should be persistent, even if old
bitternesses begin again and “break the low beginnings of content”; for,
even if the wild waters burst through the dam once and again, they do not
utterly wash it away, and there remains a foundation on which it may be built up
anew. Each swing of the gymnast lifts him higher until he is on a level with a
firm platform on which he can spring and stand secure. Faith may have a long
struggle with fear, but it will have the last word, and that word will be “the
help of my countenance and my God.”
Complete Biblical Library Commentary – Acts. Database ©
2009 WORDsearch Corp.; World Library Press, Inc.
Deep calls to deep—The Hebrew word for deep, teham (tuh-HOME),
appears for the first time in the second verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:2.
The Spirit of God brooded over the deep prior to the first work of
creation, the making of light. There,
the deep is a kind of abyss, a void. Often,
deep represents the depths
of the ocean or subterranean waters (Deut. 33:13; Ps. 135:6; Isa. 51:10).
The deep is a region into which no living person may go (Job 38:16), and
it frequently represents death. It
was the soured of Noah’s flood (Gen. 7:11), and in it the Egyptians perished
at the crossing of the sea (Ex. 15:5). Jonah’s
prayer included the words, “the watery depths (teham)
overcame me” (Jonah 2:5). Psalm
71:20 is similar: “You will bring me up again, even from the depths (tehom) of the earth.” When
we read the words deep calls to deep in the roar of
Your waterfalls in Psalm 42:7, we may get the impression that it
is simply describing something majestic, like the thunderous noise of Niagara
Falls. But this is almost certainly
not the case. The psalmist was
profoundly distressed, and deep here implies danger and death.
The word calls
here means “to summons” or “to invite.”
A loose paraphrase might be, “One calamity invites another as you send
a flood of trouble crashing down on me.” The
psalmist was finding himself in deep water over and over again.
Bible Study; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza,
Deep calleth unto deep: In the expression deep calleth unto deep in 42:7, deep can mean an abyss filled with a surging mass of water.
To call is “to cry out.” The
image is that of the thunderous roar of waters cascading over a waterfall into a
basin below. The roar is the voice
of the waters crying out for even more water to fall.
The resulting turbulence of the overflowing basin is a picture of chaos
or of overwhelming circumstances.
Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by
Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville,
Depressed—The HCSB translation Why am I so depressed” in
Psalm 43:5 paraphrases the text. A
more literal translation would be, “O my soul, why do you dissolve away?”
A more traditional translation, as found in the NRSV, is “Why are you
cast down, O my soul?” This line
is something of a refrain in these two psalms (see 42:5,11; 43:5).
The HCSB rendition loses the sense of internal dialogue between a man and
his soul, but it captures the reality of what he is experiencing.
Specifically, we can list four implications of the question that the
psalmist repeatedly addresses to his soul.
Depression: The psalmist was beset by lingering sorrow over which he had
no control. He could not shake off
the gloom that clung to him.
Confusion: The psalmist felt alienated from his own soul, his inner life,
and could not comprehend why his thoughts and feelings seemed to be in rebellion
against his higher ideals. Strangely,
he had to try to encourage his own soul, and he spoke to it as if to another
person. He held fast to his faith in
God, and yet he continued to experience depression, as thought he had lost
faith. This, too, bewildered him.
Apathy: In Hebrew thinking, the soul animates the person.
When the psalmist said that his oul was “dissolving away,” he implied
that he had lost energy and initiative. His
words suggest that he knew he should have gotten up and become busy dealing with
the problems around him, but he couldn’t do it.
In spite of what he knew to be right, he just didn’t seem to care.
Despair: The psalmist had not lost all hope, but he continued to
experience feelings of hopelessness. He
was looking for answers, wanting to know how to regain the optimism that comes
from knowing that God was watching over him.
Cast down: To cast down
(43:5) is “to bring down, to be humiliated, to be brought into despair.”
In Psalms 42 and 43 it represents the emotional, mental, and spiritual
state of the psalmist.
SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S.
Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.
Lyre: A stringed musical instrument consisting of a
resonating body with two arms and a crossbar to which the strings extending from
the resonator are attached.
- Merriam-Webster Online: www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lyre
DEER as Imagery in the Old Testament
By Kevin Hall
Hall is professor of religion and occupies the Ida Elizabeth & J. W. Hollums
Chair or Bible, Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee, Oklahoma.
OD’S CREATIVE POWER and redemptive purposes are twin realities of the world we and all of
God’s creatures inhabit. Inspired
by a world so powerfully and purposely crafted, the biblical writers found in
creation numerous examples to explain and explore their trust in the world’s
Creator and Redeemer. Animals, in
particular the undomesticated creatures that fill God’s world with wildness
and wonder, display in the Scriptures a certain strength and wisdom.
In addition, they serve as vivid and visual reminders of the radical
dependence of all of God’s creatures on the Creator’s sustaining power and
Psalm 104, the great hymn in praise of the Creator, provides a profound
context for the Bible’s use of animal imagery.
This psalm offers praise to Yahweh for having made a world filled with
creatures innumerable, great and small, living in wondrous freedom from human
control and in complete dependence on God’s provisions (Ps. 104:24-30).
From the remarkable image of God’s open hand feeding these creatures
(v. 28) to the equally remarkable statement of God’s ongoing creative care (v.
30), a context for the biblical use of animal imagery emerges.
In the psalmist’s vision, the fulsomeness of an earth populated with a
variety of creatures becomes a wonderful tapestry of rich images all bearing
witness to divine power, wisdom, and grace.
No wonder then that deer, plentiful in the land of ancient Israel, are
employed in the Psalms and elsewhere as a particular example of what all God’s
DEER IN ANCIENT ISRAEL
Deer bones found in Iron Age excavations at Dan
(in northern Israel) indicate that deer made up about 4 percent of the meat
supply, with sheep and goats accounting for about 7 percent and cattle
accounting for about 89 percent.1
This is not surprising given that deer were considered clean animals and
therefore acceptable food for the Israelites (see Deut. 12:15,22).
Deer probably roamed throughout the land of promise in fairly large herds
during the Old Testament era. Considered
by many scholars to be a variety of the Iranian fallow deer, slightly larger
than the European variety, the fallow deer would have thrived in ancient Israel
before the deforestation of later periods.2
Though certainly a part of the food supply and a common feature of the forests
of ancient Israel, deer were never domesticated.3 The deer’s freedom from human control and ability to
thrive in the land seems the best explanation for its use as an image of agility
and grace and of dependence on the Creator’s care.
AGILITY AND GRACE
Both King David and the prophet Habakkuk used
the deer as an image of agility and grace. Praising
God as his rock and his fortress, David expressed thanks that God “makes my
feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me on my high places” (2 Sam. 22:34, NASB).4
In the context of this hymn, David celebrated his God-given ability to traverse
with grace and agility the peaks and valleys of his life as God’s appointed
leader. Like the deer he must have
often seen in the hill country of Israel, by God’s grace and power David
ascended victoriously to safety and security out of the reach of his enemies.
In like fashion, Habakkuk, struggling as he did to live by faith in
times of great national travail (Hab. 1:2-4), could survey his situation and
celebrate the ability to overcome with the grace and agility of a deer.
At the end of an extraordinary vision of the outworking of God’s wrath
and mercy, Habakkuk with great confidence and hope, echoed David’s amazement
that God “has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high
places” (Hab. 3:19, NASB). Again
the deer provided a vivid image of God offering strength so persons could
transcend life’s struggles.
DEPENDENCE ON GOD
As untamed animals that thrived in the land,
deer also demonstrated another facet of the freedom God’s creatures
enjoy—their complete dependence on God’s gracious provisions.
This seems to be the background for the psalmist’s cry, “As the deer
pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God” (Psalm 42:1, NASB).
The psalmist thus indicated that his spiritual thirst could be
satisfied only by the sustaining presence of God.
He mirrors this thirst in the panting of the graceful and sturdy deer
that is desperate for the life-giving refreshment of a cool running stream.
The panting of this graceful creature is a poignant symbol of the need
for sustenance from a source outside oneself.
Further, by comparing his plight to the plight of a creature like the
deer, desperate for something as basic to life as water, the psalmist was able
to confess his inability to live without God, his one and only hope for what he
When I was a third grader, my rather stern
teacher made me memorize the proverb, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider
her ways, and be wise” (Prov. 6:6; KJV). That
assignment seems a bit contrived for third grade boys who are usually as busy as
a beehive. The proverb may also seem
a little odd for those who rarely contemplate the life all around us.
The biblical writers, however, discerned God’s redemptive purpose and
creative power and readily confessed their own creatureliness.
Their confessions have left us with simple, yet profound images of
God’s abundant gifts and ample provisions.
In today’s society, which prizes self-determination and success, the
biblical imagery of the deer calls us to remember that the abundant blessings we
enjoy come ultimately not from our own efforts, but from the hand of God.
Edwin Firmage, “Zoology (Animal Profiles)” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, ed. in chief David Noel Freedman (New
York: Doubleday, 1992), 6:1142.
Ibid. See also Randall W.
Younker, “Deer” in Eerdmans Dictionary
of the Bible, ed. in Chief David Noel Freedman (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,
“Hind” translates the feminine form of the Hebrew term ayyal and
would indicate a doe.
X. Kimmitt is associate dean, Leavell College and associate professor of Old
Testament and Hebrew, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary College of
Undergraduate Studies, New Orleans, Louisiana.)
Webster's International Dictionary of The English Language (2d ed.,
unabridged), defines it as “tender regard, mercy, favor.” The Oxford
English Dictionary (1933 ed.) defined loving-kindness as “kindness
arising from a deep personal love, as the active love of God for his
Can anyone definition give you
a sense of the fullness of this word? Probably not! So too is the sense of the
Hebrew word from which we have the translation "loving-kindness.” The
Hebrew word is chesed (pronounced "kesed"). The biblical
writers used the noun form of the word 246 times.1 To truly
understand God's character in the Old Testament, one must understand the word
that many biblical writers used to portray the “loving” side of the Lord.
the Old Testament
The Old Testament uses chesed
on two levels: (1) between human beings and (2) between God and people. Chesed
entails faithfulness, loyalty, love, and kindness in human relationships.
One example is Jacob's deathbed speech to Joseph, “When the time for Israel to
die drew near, he called his son Joseph and said to him, 'Please, if I have
found favor in your sight, place now your hand under my thigh
and deal with me in kindness [chesed] and faithfulness. Please do not
bury me in Egypt’” (Gen. 47:29).2 Another is Boaz’s expression
of love and respect to Ruth, “Then he said, 'May you be blessed of the Lord,
my daughter. You have shown your last kindness [chesed] to be better than
the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich’” (Ruth 3: 10).
The sense of chesed in relationships between humans (marriage, family
relationships, friendships, kings and subjects) is that men and women show chesed
to one another by treating each other
with kindness, loyalty, and love because that is the basis of the relationship,
and it promotes the good health of these relationships.3
Interesting to compare is what chased
is not in the biblical human-human relationships. In no setting does chesed
refer to an emotion or a sentiment. Neither does it ever have a sexual
connotation in human relationships. Chesed is not self-seeking and is not
motivated by anything except desiring the best for another person. We hear
echoes of the concept of chased in Paul's words in I Corinthians 13:4-7,
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is
not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not
provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in
unrighteous- ness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all
things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
various uses of chesed on the second level - the divine-human
relationship - suggest that chased flows out of the covenant Yahweh
established with His people Israel. We can see several aspects of the covenant
relationship as we examine different uses of chased. God set up specific
requirements for His children when He made His covenant with Israel at Mount
Sinai (Ex. 19:5-6). The First Commandment, to worship/serve the Lord God alone
because He is the only God, expressed clearly Israel's primary requirement. The
Lord promised to be their God always and care for them and protect them if they
would be His people (compare Ex. 6:7). Therefore, when chased describes
the Lord's relationship with His people, it typically reflects the covenant
relationship's perspective that the Lord established and to which He bound
Himself: “unfailing love," “steadfast love," "covenant
Humans fail to live up to the
expectations of the relationship. In Hosea 6:6, the Lord told disobedient Israel
that He desired mercy [chesed] rather than sacrifice. The indictment, as
Hosea explained in 4:1, is that "the Lord has a case against the
inhabitants of the land, Because there is no faithfulness or kindness [chased]
Or knowledge of God in the land.”
Even as the children of Israel
often failed to fulfill the requirements of the covenant, the Lord continued to
express His "faithfulness," "covenant love,"
"loyalty," "mercy," "loving-kindness" - His chesed
- toward those disobedient and rebellious children. Some biblical scholars have
suggested that God's chased was not love or mercy, but merely
loyalty to His contractual obligations as a result of the covenant that He made
with the patriarchs.5 However, this view fails to recognize that the
Lord made His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob because of His love for
them and their descendants, not merely to honor a contract.6 God
chose to make the covenant with Abraham and his descendants. In so doing, He
bound Himself to the stipulations of His covenant; in essence, the Lord promised
to show chased to His chosen people, not because of any inherent goodness
in them, but because of His own “covenant love," "mercy,"
“faithfulness," "loyalty” - His chased.
does the Lord demonstrate His chesed toward Israel in the Old Testament
texts? We can see several characteristics of chased. (1) God's chesed delivers
His people from catastrophes and from their oppressors. In Genesis 19:19, Lot
gave thanks to the three men for their loving-kindness (chased) in saving
his fife when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. The Lord's chesed is one
of the common reasons the psalms offer praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. (2)
The Lord's chased nourishes human life. The psalmist cried out for God to
sustain him so that he might honor the Lord with his life (compare Ps. 119:88).
(3) God's chesed often limits His wrath - His righteous response to human
sin. In the midst of his indictment against Judah for their sins, the prophet
Micah praised the Lord for His mercy on Judah (Mic. 7:18). (4) The chased of
the Lord endures forever. The wonderful antiphonal response of Psalm 136 (NASB:
"For His loving kindness [chesed] is everlasting"; NIV. “His
love [chesed] endures
forever") is a demonstration of praise and hip for God's eternal
faithfulness. (5) God's often a
primary motivation for His children’s prayer and petition.
used the words in his petition after the people’s faithless response to the
report of the 12 spies (see Num. 14:17-19). (6) Finally, the Lord's chesed is
bountiful. The Lord's words of Exodus 34:6-7, which Moses quoted back to Him in
his petition for the forgiveness of Israel (Num. 14:18), are central to this
concept of God's abundant chesed.7
then should we understand chased in Lamentations 3:19? The poet who
penned the book is describing in vivid emotional terms the destruction of
Jerusalem and the temple in 586 B.C. by the invading Babylonians. We hear his
heart cry as he described his feelings about this horrible event in the life of
his people. In the midst of his agony, the poet was able to lift up his eyes and
see his God. The Lord had not changed His character, nor had He ceased to be the
covenant God of His people Israel.
This very aspect of the Lord's
nature was the source of the poet's Lord's chesed will never cease.
The parallelism of the poetry reinforces the hope. God's chased is
displayed in His compassion. His faithfulness is great. Every day IS a new day,
filled with hope and promise precisely because of the Lord's
"faithfulness," “covenant love," "mercy,"
The message is as relevant
today as it was to a hurting people more than 2,500 years ago:
“Great is Thy faithfulness, 0
God, my Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy
compassions, they fail not; As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning
new mercies I see; All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided; Great is Thy
faithfulness, Lord, unto me!"8
1. Chesed appears in 27 of the 39 Old
Testament books. It is not in the Books of Leviticus, 2 Kings, Ezekiel, Amos,
Obadiah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Malachi, Ecclesiastes, or Song of
Songs. More than one-half of all the occurrences of the word are found in the
Book of Psalms (127 times). From Abraham Even-Shoshan, A New Concordance of
the Bible (Jerusalem: Kiryat Sefer Ltd., 1989), 386-387.
2. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture
quotations in this article are taken from the New American Standard Bible.
3. Compare Jesus' statement in Matthew 7:12
“Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is
the Law and the Prophets."
4. D. A. Baer and R. P. Gordon, "h[sd' in
New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis,
vol. 2, ed. Willem VanGemeren (Grand Rapids: Zondeman Publishing House, 1997),
5. See R. Laird Harris, "h[sd," in Theological
Wordbook of the Old Testament, vol. 1, ed. R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr.,
and B. K. Waltke (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), 305-7 for a brief overview of the
arguments for and against chesed as loyalty to covenant obligations.
6. Compare Hosea 11:1 "When Israel as a
youth I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son" (NASB). The Lord's
motivation for His chesed was not the mere honoring of the terms of a
contract but the love of a Father for His son.
Baer and Gordon, 213-217.
8. "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" by
Thomas 0. Chisholm Ó
1923. Renewal 1951 Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188. All rights
reserved. Used by permission.
FROM HERMON to JORDAN
David M. Wallace
Wallace is minister of education & administration, Erlanger Baptist Church,
HE MAGNIFICENT BEAUTY of snow-capped Mount Hermon and the land of Jordan were not enough to
keep the writer of Psalm 42 from being homesick for Jerusalem and the festivals
of celebration at the temple. The
beauty of the region served only to remind the writer that he could not return
home to worship God.
The Jordan Valley is one of the most fascinating areas anywhere on
earth. The valley sits on a
geographical fault caused by the east to west contraction of the earth’s
limestone crust centuries ago. The
valley extends from Mount Hermon south to the Red Sea, a distance of about 300
miles. The width of the valley
ranges from 3-10 miles and descends to a depth of approximately 1,300 feet below
sea level at the Dead Sea, the lowest spot on earth.
The climate in the valley has remained
the same for centuries.
Within the valley the Jordan River flows from the
foothills of Mount Hermon to the Dead Sea, a distance of only 80 air miles.
But the river’s winding course gives it a total length of almost 200
miles. It is the largest and most
important river in Israel. No other
river has such biblical significance. Jordan
means “the stream that descends rapidly.”
Towering over the northern end of the Jordan Valley is Mount Hermon,
9,232 feet above sea level. Snow-
capped much of the year, Mount Hermon with its three summits provides a majestic
view from many places in Israel. Bordering
the northern boundary of ancient Israel, and just 30 miles southwest of
Damascus, Mount Hermon is the highest mountain in the region.
It is 28 miles in length and 15 miles wide.
Mount Hermon receives 60 inches of precipitation annually in the form
of snow, rain, and dew. Above the
snow line there is no vegetation. Below
the snow line grow trees and vineyards; leopards, wolves, and bears live in its
forests. The Bible mentions the dew
on Mount Hermon in Psalm 133:3, lions and leopards living on the mountain in
Song of Solomon 4:8, and fir trees growing there in Ezekiel 27:5.
Mount Hermon means “devoted mountain.”
It was here that a sanctuary to Baal was built.
The Old Testament mentions Hermon elsewhere by various names, such as
Sirion (Deut. 3:9, NIV), Senir (Deut. 3:9, NIV), and Siyon (Deut. 4:48, NIV).
Significant for several reasons, Hermon was known
as the northern border of the Amorite kingdom (Deut. 3:8), the northernmost
limit to Joshua’s battles (Josh. 11:17), and probably the site of Jesus’
transfiguration (Matt. 17:1).
The location of Mount Mizar is unknown, although it was probably in the
Galilee region and well within site of Mount Hermon, perhaps in the territory of
Dan. Only mentioned in Psalm 42:6 in
all the Bible, the Hebrew word Mizar means “littleness” or “smallness.”
Perhaps the writer was comparing the greatness of Mount Hermon with the
smallness of Mount Mizar and saying nothing great or small compares to
worshiping in the temple (Ps. 42:4).
In the foothills of Mount Hermon are found the
four primary sources of the river Jordan. The
eastern source is at Banias, where a cold steam bursts forth out of a limestone
cave in a cliff on the southwest slope of Hermon some 1,000 feet above sea
In Roman times the name Banias was changed to Caesarea Philippi.
It was here that Jesus asked His disciples, “who do people say the Son
of Man is?” Peter answered, “You
are the Christ, the Son of the living God”
(Matt. 16:13-20, NIV). The
Banias River runs about six miles southward, where it joins with the Leddan
The central, and largest, source of the Jordan River is the Leddan
River. Its source is at ancient Dan,
some two miles west of Banias. The
district of Dan was the northern border of Old Testament Israel (Judg. 20:1).
With 24 inches of annual rainfall, people lived prosperously in the lush
region. Water gushes out directly
from the rocks in a stream about 12 feet wide and three feet deep to form the
Leddan River. From there it flows
approximately 4 miles, where if joins with the Banias River.
The northwest source is a short stream named Bareighit.
Its source is close to the Leontes River.
The Bareighit joins with the Hasbani River near its end.
The fourth source of the Jordan is its northern source, the Hasbani
River. The Hasbani flows from the
western slope of Mount Hermon for about 24 miles.
While it is the longest of Jordan’s tributaries, it carries the least
volume of water. The Hasbani River
joins with the Banias and Leddan Rivers about one mile south of their junction.
With the junction of these four sources, the river Jordan begins its
journey flowing southward toward the Dead Sea.
Until this century, after seven miles the Jordan entered Late Huleh.
Lake Huleh was a small, shallow lake four miles long and three miles wide
in the shape of an upside down triangle.
In the 1950’s the state of Israel drained over 11,000 acres of
shallow swampland that was Lake Huleh and created the Huleh Nature Reserve.
The reserve consists of about 600 acres of land with fruitful fields,
plantations, and fish ponds. The
reserve is also home to wild plants, birds, and animals.
In biblical times the Jordan River flowed through marshland with high
grass, papyrus, bulrushes, and reeds into Lake Huleh, then called the Waters of
Merom. The papyrus plant was used
for centuries for both writing material and boat construction.
Lions, jackals, water buffalo, turtles, rare fish, and wading birds all
made Lake Huleh their home. The area
has served as a migrating station for birds for centuries.
Emerging from Lake Huleh, the Jordan River begins
a steep descent through the hills of Galilee.
Falling 35 feet per mile for 20 miles to about 700 feet below sea level;
the river then flows into the Sea of Galilee.
The journey to the Sea of Galilee finds the Jordan flowing and cascading
down through a gorge of black basalt rock. In this area the Jordan changes color
from the clear to a muddy stream. It
flows into a plain, then into a small delta, and on into the Sea of Galilee.
The Sea of Galilee is actually a lake.
Harp shaped, it is about 13 miles long and 7 miles wide, totaling 64
square miles. This freshwater lake
reaches 150 feet deep.
The scenery is quite diverse. The
mountains surrounding the lake dominate the landscape, with Mount Herman easily
in view some 40 miles north. The
beautiful blue waters of the lake contrast sharply with the volcanic hills
rising up at points around the lake. One
result of these ancient volcanoes are hot mineral springs on both sides of the
lake. For centuries people have come
to seek relief in the hot mineral waters bubbling up beside the lake.
Tourist today find the Sea of Galilee to be a beautiful area.
But in New Testament times the area had a high population with a fishing
industry, the 10 cities of the Decapolis nearby, and several towns along the
lakeshore. Jesus Himself lived in
Capernaum (Matt. 4:13). Some of the
places mentioned in the New Testament that sat beside the lake include Chorazin,
Capernaum, Bethsaida, Tabgha, Magdala, and Gadara.
Numerous events recorded in the Gospels and many of the miracles of Jesus
occurred on and beside the lake.
The Jordan River runs over 65 miles from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead
Sea. The river drops about 600 feet
by the time it empties into the Dead Sea. Its
average width is about 90 feet. Temperatures
in this region of the Jordan Valley reach 100-118 degrees in summer with high
humidity, making it a difficult area in which to live.
The river may be crossed at several points just south of where the Jordan
leaves the Sea of Galilee.
The Yarmuk River enters the Jordan five miles downstream doubling the
volume of water. Nine more streams
enter the Jordan before the Jabbok River enters.
The deltas of these streams were fertile areas for farming.
Many towns grew up at these junctions as well.
During biblical times important communities were located on both sides
of the Jordan. Zaretan, Adam,
Succoth, and Jericho, Gilgal, and Bethshan on the west.
Archaeological evidence indicates over 70 places along the Jordan River
where people lived and worked.
In Old Testament days Lot chose this land for
himself (Gen. 13:11); Jacob wrestled at the ford of the Jabbok (Gen. 32:22-26);
Israel crossed over “on dry ground” (Josh. 3:15-17); and Elijah and
Elisha’s miracles occurred near here.
Much of the gospel story began at the Jordan River.
Here John the Baptist preached and Jesus was baptized.
And some of Jesus’ public ministry occurred on the east side of the
From the heights of beautiful Mount Hermon to the depths of the Jordan
River Valley, God intervened in the lives of people through the ages.
May we say with the psalmist in Psalm 42:11: “Hope in God; For I shall
yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God” (NKJV).
Adams, J. McKee. Biblical Backgrounds, Revised by Joseph A. Callaway. Nashville:
Broadman Press, 1965.
Baly, Denis. The Geography of the Bible. New York: Harper & Row, 1974.
Bucke, Emory Stevens, ed. The
Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. 2 & 3. Nashville, Abingdon
Butler, Trent, ed. Holman Bible Dictionary. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 1991.
Davis, John D. Davis Dictionary of the Bible. 4th Revised Edition,
Nashville: Broadman Press, 1972.
Douglas, J. D., ed. The New Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co.,
Durham, John. The Broadman Bible Commentary, Vol. 4. Nashville: Broadman Press,
Gewurtzman, B. Upper Galilee & the
Golan. Israel: Palphot Ltd., 1985.
Guthrie, D., ed. The New Bible Commentary, Revised. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing
Knight, George A. F.
1. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1982.
Mann, Sylvia. This is Israel. Israel:
Palphot Ltd., 1985.
May, Herbert & Bruce Metzger. The
New Oxford Annotated Bible, RSV. New
York: Oxford University Press, 1971.
McEachern, Alton H. Layman’s Bible Book Commentary, Vol. 8. Nashville: Broadman Press,
Mills, Watson E., ed. Mercer Dictionary of the Bible. Macon: Mercer University Press,
Pfeiffer, Charles F. & Howard F. Vos,
ed. The Wycliffe Historical Geography of
Bible Lands. Chicago: Moody
Vilnay, Zen. The Guide to Israel. Jerusalem: “Daf-Chen” Press, Ltd., 1985.
Vos, Howard F. Beginnings in Biblical Geography.
Chicago: Moody Press, 1973.
Weiser, Artur. The Psalms. London, S. C. M. Press, Ltd., 1962; 9th
printing, Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1976.
SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern
Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN Spring 1999.
What Is The Answer
To & Where In The Bible Is This Week’s Trivia Question Found? (12/28/14)
Two-part question: Wealth created by (1) what? is
a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek (2) what? (KJV)
Answer next week: (1) what; (2) what; Bible verse?
The answer to last
week’s trivia question: (12/21/14) Three-part
question: (1)Who was confined to bed for eight years (2) suffering from what
disease, (3) when did he dwell? Answer: (1) Aeneas, (2)
palsy, (3) Lydda; Acts 9:32-33.