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Psalms 42

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Book 2
(Psalms 42-72)

Psalm 42 1 

For the music director; a well-written song 2  by the Korahites.

42:1 As a deer 3  longs 4  for streams of water,

so I long 5  for you, O God!

42:2 I thirst 6  for God,

for the living God.

I say, 7  “When will I be able to go and appear in God’s presence?” 8 

42:3 I cannot eat, I weep day and night; 9 

all day long they say to me, 10  “Where is your God?”

42:4 I will remember and weep! 11 

For I was once walking along with the great throng to the temple of God,

shouting and giving thanks along with the crowd as we celebrated the holy festival. 12 

42:5 Why are you depressed, 13  O my soul? 14 

Why are you upset? 15 

Wait for God!

For I will again give thanks

to my God for his saving intervention. 16 

42:6 I am depressed, 17 

so I will pray to you while I am trapped here in the region of the upper Jordan, 18 

from Hermon, 19  from Mount Mizar. 20 

42:7 One deep stream calls out to another 21  at the sound of your waterfalls; 22 

all your billows and waves overwhelm me. 23 

42:8 By day the Lord decrees his loyal love, 24 

and by night he gives me a song, 25 

a prayer 26  to the living God.

42:9 I will pray 27  to God, my high ridge: 28 

“Why do you ignore 29  me?

Why must I walk around mourning 30 

because my enemies oppress me?”

42:10 My enemies’ taunts cut into me to the bone, 31 

as they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 32 

42:11 Why are you depressed, 33  O my soul? 34 

Why are you upset? 35 

Wait for God!

For I will again give thanks

to my God for his saving intervention. 36 

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1 sn Psalm 42. The psalmist recalls how he once worshiped in the Lord’s temple, but laments that he is now oppressed by enemies in a foreign land. Some medieval Hebrew mss combine Psalms 42 and 43 into a single psalm.

2 tn The meaning of the Hebrew term מַשְׂכִּיל (maskil) is uncertain. The word is derived from a verb meaning “to be prudent; to be wise.” Various options are: “a contemplative song,” “a song imparting moral wisdom,” or “a skillful [i.e., well-written] song.” The term occurs in the superscriptions of Pss 32, 42, 44, 45, 52-55, 74, 78, 88, 89, and 142, as well as in Ps 47:7.

3 tn Since the accompanying verb is feminine in form, the noun אָיִּל (’ayyil, “male deer”) should be emended to אַיֶּלֶת (’ayyelet, “female deer”). Haplography of the letter tav has occurred; note that the following verb begins with tav.

4 tn Or “pants [with thirst].”

5 tn Or “my soul pants [with thirst].” The Hebrew term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) with a pronominal suffix is often equivalent to a pronoun, especially in poetry (see BDB 660 s.v. נֶפֶשׁ 4.a).

6 tn Or “my soul thirsts.”

7 tn The words “I say” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons and for clarification.

8 tn Heb “When will I go and appear [to] the face of God?” Some emend the Niphal verbal form אֵרָאֶה (’eraeh, “I will appear”) to a Qal אֶרְאֶה (’ereh, “I will see”; see Gen 33:10), but the Niphal can be retained if one understands ellipsis of אֶת (’et) before “face” (see Exod 34:24; Deut 31:11).

9 tn Heb “My tears have become my food day and night.”

10 tn Heb “when [they] say to me all the day.” The suffixed third masculine plural pronoun may have been accidentally omitted from the infinitive בֶּאֱמֹר (beÿmor, “when [they] say”). Note the term בְּאָמְרָם (bÿomram, “when they say”) in v. 10.

11 tn Heb “These things I will remember and I will pour out upon myself my soul.” “These things” are identified in the second half of the verse as those times when the psalmist worshiped in the Lord’s temple. The two cohortative forms indicate the psalmist’s resolve to remember and weep. The expression “pour out upon myself my soul” refers to mourning (see Job 30:16).

12 tc Heb “for I was passing by with the throng [?], I was walking with [?] them to the house of God; with a voice of a ringing shout and thanksgiving a multitude was observing a festival.” The Hebrew phrase בַּסָּךְ אֶדַּדֵּם (bassakheddaddem, “with the throng [?] I was walking with [?]”) is particularly problematic. The noun סָךְ (sakh) occurs only here. If it corresponds to הָמוֹן (hamon, “multitude”) then one can propose a meaning “throng.” The present translation assumes this reading (cf. NIV, NRSV). The form אֶדַּדֵּם (“I will walk with [?]”) is also very problematic. The form can be taken as a Hitpael from דָּדָה (dadah; this verb possibly appears in Isa 38:15), but the pronominal suffix is problematic. For this reason many emend the form to ם[י]אַדִּרִ (’adirim, “nobles”) or ם-רִ[י]אַדִ (’adirim, “great,” with enclitic mem [ם]). The present translation understands the latter and takes the adjective “great” as modifying “throng.” If one emends סָךְ (sakh, “throng [?]”) to סֹךְ (sokh, “shelter”; see the Qere of Ps 27:5), then ר[י]אַדִּ (’addir) could be taken as a divine epithet, “[in the shelter of] the majestic one,” a reading which may find support in the LXX and Syriac Peshitta.

13 tn Heb “Why do you bow down?”

14 sn For poetic effect the psalmist addresses his soul, or inner self.

15 tn Heb “and [why] are you in turmoil upon me?” The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive here carries on the descriptive present nuance of the preceding imperfect. See GKC 329 §111.t.

16 tc Heb “for again I will give him thanks, the saving acts of his face.” The verse division in the Hebrew text is incorrect. אֱלֹהַי (’elohay, “my God”) at the beginning of v. 7 belongs with the end of v. 6 (see the corresponding refrains in 42:11 and 43:5, both of which end with “my God” after “saving acts of my face”). The Hebrew term פָּנָיו (panayv, “his face”) should be emended to פְּנֵי (pÿney, “face of”). The emended text reads, “[for] the saving acts of the face of my God,” that is, the saving acts associated with God’s presence/intervention.

17 tn Heb “my God, upon me my soul bows down.” As noted earlier, “my God” belongs with the end of v. 6.

18 tn Heb “therefore I will remember you from the land of Jordan.” “Remember” is here used metonymically for prayer (see vv. 8-9). As the next line indicates, the region of the upper Jordan, where the river originates, is in view.

19 tc Heb “Hermons.” The plural form of the name occurs only here in the OT. Some suggest the plural refers to multiple mountain peaks (cf. NASB) or simply retain the plural in the translation (cf. NEB), but the final mem (ם) is probably dittographic (note that the next form in the text begins with the letter mem) or enclitic. At a later time it was misinterpreted as a plural marker and vocalized accordingly.

20 tn The Hebrew term מִצְעָר (mitsar) is probably a proper name (“Mizar”), designating a particular mountain in the Hermon region. The name appears only here in the OT.

21 tn Heb “deep calls to deep.” The Hebrew noun תְּהוֹם (tÿhom) often refers to the deep sea, but here, where it is associated with Hermon, it probably refers to mountain streams. The word can be used of streams and rivers (see Deut 8:7; Ezek 31:4).

22 tn The noun צִנּוֹר (tsinnor, “waterfall”) occurs only here and in 2 Sam 5:8, where it apparently refers to a water shaft. The psalmist alludes to the loud rushing sound of mountain streams and cascading waterfalls. Using the poetic device of personification, he imagines the streams calling out to each other as they hear the sound of the waterfalls.

23 tn Heb “pass over me” (see Jonah 2:3). As he hears the sound of the rushing water, the psalmist imagines himself engulfed in the current. By implication he likens his emotional distress to such an experience.

24 sn The psalmist believes that the Lord has not abandoned him, but continues to extend his loyal love. To this point in the psalm, the author has used the name “God,” but now, as he mentions the divine characteristic of loyal love, he switches to the more personal divine name Yahweh (rendered in the translation as “the Lord”).

25 tn Heb “his song [is] with me.”

26 tc A few medieval Hebrew mss read תְּהִלָּה (tÿhillah, “praise”) instead of תְּפִלָּה (tÿfillah, “prayer”).

27 tn The cohortative form indicates the psalmist’s resolve.

28 tn This metaphor pictures God as a rocky, relatively inaccessible summit, where one would be able to find protection from enemies. See 1 Sam 23:25, 28; Pss 18:2; 31:3.

29 tn Or “forget.”

30 sn Walk around mourning. See Ps 38:6 for a similar idea.

31 tc Heb “with a shattering in my bones my enemies taunt me.” A few medieval Hebrew mss and Symmachus’ Greek version read “like” instead of “with.”

32 sn “Where is your God?” The enemies ask this same question in v. 3.

33 tn Heb “Why do you bow down?”

34 sn For poetic effect the psalmist addresses his soul, or inner self.

35 tn Heb “and why are you in turmoil upon me?”

36 tc Heb “for again I will give him thanks, the saving acts of my face and my God.” The last line should be emended to read יְשׁוּעֹת פְנֵי אֱלֹהָי (yÿshuot fÿneyelohay, “[for] the saving acts of the face of my God”), that is, the saving acts associated with God’s presence/intervention. This refrain is almost identical to the one in v. 5. See also Ps 43:5.



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