Psa 41.1-13 is the last of a series of psalms that deal with David, his sins and the affliction they caused. In addition, it is the last psalm of Book 1. Remember, the Book of Psalms is divided into five books that many see as an allusion to the five books of Torah. David is suffering from two evils: the afflictions because of his sins and the betrayal of his friends. In the Sowd level (secret, hidden), this psalm is considered by some to be a prophecy about Yeshua, and Yehuda Ben Sicarii (Judas Iscariot), although this certainly applies to David in the Peshat level (literal). The heading reads, “For the Conductor. A Psalm of David.”
Psa 41.1-3 begins by saying how blessed (empowered to succeed) is the person who considers wisely the poor. The word “poor” is singular and it alludes to David himself and the Messiah (Psa 40.17). They will be delivered in “the day of trouble.” This alludes to Jerusalem’s destruction when those who acted wisely in regards to the prophecy of Yeshua were delivered and those who rejected him were caught up inside the city (Matt 24.21) when the Roamsn came forty years later to conquer Jerusalem. Those that believed fled into the Jordanian wilderness to the east. This is where David went when he fled from Absalom, and it will be where the Jews and non-Jews will flee from the False Messiah on Nisan 10, the exact half-way point of the birth-pains (Rev 12.14-17). In the peshat level, these verses tell us that God will protect the person who acts wisely towards the sick. Yehovah will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him to health.
Psa 41.4-9 says David wants Yehovah to be graacious to him and heal the unrest in his soul because of his sins (v 4). His enemies speak evil against him and they just want him to die. This was certainly true about Yeshua also in Matt 26.1-5 (v 5). David says that when his enemies did come to see him they speak lies and their heart “gathers wickedness to itself” meaning they will use anything he says to trap him-Matt 22.15-17). Then they go outside to spread lies against him to anyone who will listen (v 6).
All who hated David (and Yeshua) whisper together against him and plot against him (v 7). A wicked thing (“davar belial” or a word of ruin) is “poured out” like poison, and he who lies down will not rise again (v 8).
Even David’s close friend Ahitophel, a person David trusted and who shared meals with him, lifted his heel (power) against him (v 9). In the sowd level this clearly alludes to Judas (Mark 14.17-18; John 13.21-29).
In Psa 41.10-12 it says that David wants God to be gracious to him and “raise me up” (it also means “resurrection” in Mark 16.16 and alludes to Yeshua) that “I may repay them.” This alludes to Rom 12.19 where it says, “vengeance is mine, I will repay” in verse 10. By this David (and Yeshua) knew that God was pleased with them because their enemies did not triumph over them (v 11).
By comparison, David had integrity when compared to his enemies and he would be in God’s presence in the Olam Habs (v 12). This psalm ends with a doxology, which will be seen at the end of all the five books of psalms. He blesses Yehovah, the God of Israel from the “L’Olam Vaed” (everlasting world before Eden) to the “L’Olam Vaed” (everlasting world after the 7000 years in the Olam Haba). Then David closes with “Amen” (from the word “emunah” meaning faith/action/confidence) and “Amen” meaning be believes everything that was just said.
Psa 42.1-11 is the beginning of Book 2 of the Psalms and corresponds to the second book of the Torah, which is called ‘Shemot” or “Names.” It is called Exodus in most English published Bibles, but that is not the name of the book in the Scriptures or Hebrew thought. It is unclear as to when these psalms were divided into five books, but it dates back before the Masoretic (traditional) Text was compiled by the 10th century A.D.
In Book 1 (Psa 1-41) the name Yehovah occurs 272 times and Elohim (God) only 15 times. In Book 2 (Psa 42-72) Elohim occurs 164 times and Yehovah only 30 times according to James Montgomery Boice. In Book 1, 37 of the 41 psalms are attributed to David. The four remaining are unattributed. So, David is the only known writer in Book 1.
In Book 2, David authored 18 of the 31, but now other writers appear like Asaph, Solomon and the sons of Korah (bald). Three have no author named. Now, the sons of Korah were Levites from the family of Kohath. By the time of David they served in the “Music Department” in the Temple. Korah led a mutiny against Moses in Num 16, and God passed judgment on Korah and they all died. However it seems that some if not all of the sons of Korah survived (Num 26.9-11) and used their abilities to praise Yehovah. This psalm is the Psalm of the day for the second day of Sukkot.
The heading for Psa 42 says, “For the Conductor. A maskil (instruction) of the sons of Korah.” This would be a good time to bring out six guidelines to fight depression. First, pour out our feelings to God not your friends. Second, remember what God has done for you in the past. Third, make a decision to praise God and your emotions will follow. Fourth, think on God, not the problem. Fifth, pray for guidance and sixth, verbalize your faith.
Psa 42.1-4 begins with the imagery of a deer overcoming its fears and timidity and panting (aching) for water. In the same way, our soul should overrule its fears and timidity and pant for the water of the word of God This means we will do anything to get to the truth (v 1) because that is our life.
The soul of a believer thirsts for God and is satisfied only with the living water found in the study of the Scriptures (Isa 55.7). The the writer says, “when shall I come and appear before God” in the Temple. The people loved the Temple and all its ceremonies. There was the music, the choir, the service of the priests, the blessing of the High Priest as he stood with his back to the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim, and there were manifestations of the power of God. Turning your back in the Temple was never done except during these blessings and the songs that were sung by the Levitical choir. This taught that the blessing and the words of the songs was coming from God through the priests and choir to the people (v 2).
Psa 42.3 says “My fears have been my food day and night” meaning “I cried even when eating.” Meanwhile, there were people who said, “Where is your God” making the problem worse. If God is as David and others have said, why isn’t he appearing to help. On top of all this, painful memories make things worse. Going to the Temple with others at the festivals, singing with joy is just a memory now (v 4).
Psa 42.5-8 tells us that the psalmist pulled back from these memories to correct himself (his soul) and asks why his soul is “bowed down” and in so much distress? He tells himself to “hope in God” (wait on the promises to manifest, expect it) because this mood will pass. Worldly hope is closer to “wishing” something will happen. On the other hand, biblical hope is a sure thing based on the promises of God. He will again praise God for the help of his “faces” (pannim) which is translated as “presence” (v 5).
He again admits his soul is “bowed down” and he remembers the Lord from the land in the north, in the land of the Jordan, near Mount Hermon and an unknown mountain called Mizar (small). Now we know why his soul is “cast down.” He is far away from the Temple and could not appear there because he is in the north (v 6).
Psa 42.6-7 tells us about prayer when in “deep”depression.” He felt like the water at the end of a waterfall, “deep calls to deep” or buried under raging waters, meaning one judgment after another (Psa 69.1; 88.6-7, 17-18). The name Yehovah is rarely used in Book 2, but it is used here with confidence that he will command his lovingkindness (mercy/grace) to the depressed “in the daytime” (literally “dawn”) meaning “openly where all can see, and “his song will be with me in the night” when it can get really depressing.
Psa 42.9-11 gives us some deeper insight into the psalmist’s depression. He says “to God my rock” (Cela or clefted rock), “why have you forgotten me?” He concludes that because God did not deliver him immediately, that God had “forgotten” him, but this is the language of unbelief. It appeared that way but it was not true. But the battle is not over, but the taunts of the enemy is not over, either. Because it looks like God has forgotten the writer, they say, “Where is your God?” This was like a sword piercing and cutting him. Again he asks his soul in confidence, “Why are you cast down.” Remember this phrase is used when sheep lay down in a small ditch and can’t get back on their feet again. If the shepherd doesn’t come along and get that sheep back on their feet they will die.
He encourages himself to “hope” in God. Again, and it is worth repeating, biblical hope is a sure thing because it is based on the promises of God, not “I wish something to happen.” He will praise God, who is the “help (Hebrew “Yeshuat”) of my countenance (his face) and my God.”
Psa 43. 1-5 is a continuation of the preceding psalm and the writer wants deliverance from the same problems as in Psalm 42. There is no heading for this psalm and there is much speculation about who wrote this, David or the sons of Korah for instance. However, the style is similar to the sons of Korah, and maybe that is why there is n o heading. The writer wanst God (Elohim) to vindicate (avenge) him and plead his case (champion his casue). Remember, when Elohim is used a person is requesting justice. When Yehovah is used it is an appeal for mercy. The writer wants his case brought against an ungodly nation in general. If this was written by David, he is referring to Israel who sinned with Absalom, or the Philistines. He seeks deliverance from the deceitful and unjust man in general. He knew how hard it was to deal with such a one (v 1).
God was his strength so he wondered why he had no relief yet. He interpreted this delay as a “why has thou rejected me.” This is the language of unbelief again. It appeared so, but it was not true. According to his thinking, God should have delivered him from his enemies (Rev 6.5) and depression (v 2).
He needs the “light” and the “truth” so they can lead him. These are terms for the Torah (Psa 119.105; Psa 25.5). Then he says, “Let them (light and truth in the Torah) bring me to thy holy hill (Mount Moriah).” Then he will go to “thy dwelling place” meaning the Temple in general, and the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim (Holy of Holies) and Ha Kodeshm (Holy Place) in particular (v 3).
Then he will go to the Mizbe’ach (altar) with joy to renew the covenant of Sinai with korbanot, which was one of the purposes for offering the korbanot. The korbanot were a “continuing testimony as zevachim (celebratory feasts) to the ongoing rededication that Israel celebrates with its partner in the covenantal center that is the Temple” (see the book “The Temple” by Joshua Berman, p. 135). But he will not only praise God with the korbanot, but also with music (v 4).
Again, the writer talks to himself (“why are you cast down, O my soul”) and encourages himself so that he does not surrender to depression and discouragement. His hope is in God, the help (“yeshuat”) of his face because he is looking to the Lord for his salvation from distress and trouble.