Psalm 42

The Word Made Fresh

(Book 2: Psalms 42-72)

Psalm 42

(For the worship leader: a hymn of the sons of Korah.)

1As the deer desires flowing streams,
my soul desires you, O God.
2My soul thirsts for the living God.
When can I come meet with God face to face?
3I have had nothing but tears day and night,
and people are always asking me, “Where is your God?”
4As my emotions rise up within me, I remember
how I used to lead the people to God’s house,
with shouts of praise and joy from the crowds
that gathered at the festival.
5Why am I so dispirited, and why so anxious?
I put my hope in God,
and I shall again praise God who is my hope.
6My God, I am so depressed. I remember you
from the land of Jordan and Hermon and Mt. Mizar.
7There your floods thunder and echo,
and your waves washed over me.
8Day by day the LORD shows steadfast love toward me,
and at night a prayer to the God of my life sings within me.
9I cry out to God, my rock, “Why have you left me?”
Why must I be in mourning
because my enemy is pressing against me?
10It is as if I have been mortally wounded,
and my enemies are taunting me with, “Where is your God?”
11Why am I so dispirited, and why so anxious?
I put my hope in God,
and I shall again praise God who is my hope.


Superscription: Of the psalms that have a superscription, this is the first that does not mention David. Instead, it is attributed to the Korahites, a group of priestly musicians (1 Chronicles 9:19, 2 Chronicles 20:19). Eleven of the psalms are ascribed to them (42, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 84, 85, 87, and 88).

1-2: This is one of the favorite passages in the Psalms, with many hymns and anthems based on the sentiment expressed here.

3-5: Verse 3 lends credence to those who say this is a psalm of consolation in times of grief. He remembers joyous times of worship in God’s house, the temple, and finds in those memories cause for hope that the time will again come when he can praise God with the congregation.

6-10: Remembering encounters with God in places of pilgrimage (Jordan, Hermon, and Mt. Mizar), the psalmist finds comfort even though his joy has been wiped away as though in a flash flood. In verse 3 it was “the people,” but in verse 10 it is his adversaries who taunt him with God’s seeming absence.

11: Verse 5 is repeated, ending the psalm on a note of unabated hope.


Often in the Psalms we find the author is overcome with fear of being defeated and cast out. That may not be the situation most of us will find ourselves in when we read this psalm, but all of us do have times when it seems the world is against us. When those moods strike, it helps when we remember to whom we belong – the God who made us and loves us.