Psalm 42:4
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 holy day.
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(4) When I.—The conjunction “when” is not expressed, but may be implied from the next clause. Others render, “let me recall these days (i.e., what follows), let me pour out my soul within me” (literally, upon me. Comp. Psalm 142:3). But the Authorised Version is better, “when I think of it, my heart must overflow.” The expression, “I pour out my soul upon me,” may, however, mean, “I weep floods of tears over myself,” i.e., “over my lot.”

For I had gone with the multitude.—The LXX. and Vulg., as well as the strangeness of the words rendered “multitude” and “went with them,” indicate a corruption of the text. Fortunately the general sense and reference of the verse are independent of the doubtful expressions. The poet indulges in a grateful recollection of some great festival, probably the Feast of Tabernacles. (See LXX.)

That kept holyday.—Literally, dancing or reeling. But the word is used absolutely (Exodus 5:1; Leviticus 23:41) for keeping a festival, and especially the Feast of Tabernacles. Dancing appears to have been a recognised part of the ceremonial. (Comp. 2Samuel 6:16.)

42:1-5 The psalmist looked to the Lord as his chief good, and set his heart upon him accordingly; casting anchor thus at first, he rides out the storm. A gracious soul can take little satisfaction in God's courts, if it do not meet with God himself there. Living souls never can take up their rest any where short of a living God. To appear before the Lord is the desire of the upright, as it is the dread of the hypocrite. Nothing is more grievous to a gracious soul, than what is intended to shake its confidence in the Lord. It was not the remembrance of the pleasures of his court that afflicted David; but the remembrance of the free access he formerly had to God's house, and his pleasure in attending there. Those that commune much with their own hearts, will often have to chide them. See the cure of sorrow. When the soul rests on itself, it sinks; if it catches hold on the power and promise of God, the head is kept above the billows. And what is our support under present woes but this, that we shall have comfort in Him. We have great cause to mourn for sin; but being cast down springs from unbelief and a rebellious will; we should therefore strive and pray against it.When I remember these things - These sorrows; this banishment from the house of God; these reproaches of my enemies. The verb used here is in the future tense, and would be appropriately rendered "I will remember these things, and I will pour out my soul within me." That is, it is not a mere recollection of the past, but it indicates a state or purpose of mind - a solemn resolution to bear these things ever in remembrance, and to allow them to produce a proper impression on his mind and heart that would not be effaced by time. Though the future tense is used as denoting what the state of his mind would be, the immediate reference is to the past. The sorrows and afflictions which had overwhelmed him were the things he would remember.

I pour out my soul in me - Hebrew, upon me. See the notes at Job 30:16. The idea is derived from the fact that the soul in grief seems to be dissolved, or to lose all firmness, consistency, or power, and to be like water. We speak now of the soul as being melted, tender, dissolved, with sympathy or grief, or as overflowing with joy.

For I had gone with the multitude - The word here rendered "multitude" - סך sâk - occurs nowhere else in the Scriptures. It is supposed to denote properly a thicket of trees; a thick wood; and then, a crowd of men. The Septuagint renders it, "I will pass on to the place of the wonderful tabernacle," σκηνῆς θαυμαστῆς skēnēs thaumastēs. So the Latin Vulgate. Luther translates it, "multitude," Haufen. The Hebrew verb is in the future - "I shall pass," or "when I pass," indicating a confident expectation of a favorable issue of his present trials, and referring not to the fact that he had gone with the multitude in time past, but to the fact that he would be permitted to go with them in solemn procession to the house of God, and that then he would recall these things, and pour out his soul in the fullness of his emotions. The Septuagint renders this in the future; so also the Latin Vulgate, DeWette, and Prof. Alexander. Luther renders it, "For I would gladly go hence with the multitude." It seems clear, therefore, that this does not refer to what had been in the past, but to what he confidently hoped and expected would be in the future. He expected again to go with the multitude to the house of God. Even in his exile, and in his sorrows, he confidently anticipated this, and he says that he would then pour forth the full expression of gratitude - his whole soul - in view of all these things which had occurred. He was now in exile: his heart was overwhelmed with sorrow; he was away from the place of worship - the house of God; he no longer went with others with solemn steps to the sanctuary, but he hoped and expected again to be permitted to do so; and, in view of this, he calls on his soul Psalm 42:5 not to be cast down. This interpretation, referring it to the future, also brings this part of the psalm into harmony with the subsequent part Psalm 42:8, where the author of the psalm confidently expresses the same hope.

I went with them to the house of God - The tabernacle; the place of public worship. See the notes at Psalm 23:6. The Hebrew verb here is also in the future tense, and, in accordance with the interpretation above, the meaning is, "I will go," etc. The word occurs only here, and in Isaiah 38:15, "I shall go softly all my years." See the word explained in the notes at that passage. It seems here to be used with reference to a movement in a slow and solemn procession, as in the usual processions connected with public worship among the Hebrews. The meaning is, that he would go with the multitude with seriousness and solemnity, as they went up to the house of God to worship.

With the voice of joy and praise - Chanting hymns to God.

With a multitude that kept holyday - The word here rendered "multitude" - המון hâmôn - is different from that which is employed in the former part of the verse. This is the usual word to denote a multitude. It literally means a noise or sound, as of rain, 1 Kings 18:41; then, a multitude or crowd making a noise, as of nations, or of an army, Isaiah 13:4; Judges 4:7; Daniel 11:11-13. The word rendered "that kept holyday" - חוגג chogēg - from חגג châgag, to dance - means literally dancing; dancing in a circle; and then, keeping a festival, celebrating a holyday, as this was done formerly by leaping and dancing, Exodus 5:1; Leviticus 23:41. The meaning is, that he would join with the multitude in the joyful celebrations of public worship. This was the bright anticipation before him in exile; this cheered and sustained his heart when sinking in despair.

4. The verbs are properly rendered as futures, "I will remember," &c.,—that is, the recollection of this season of distress will give greater zest to the privileges of God's worship, when obtained. These things; either,

1. Which follow, to wit, my former freedom. Or rather,

2. Last mentioned, my banishment from God’s presence, and mine enemies’ scoffs and triumphs upon that occasion.

I pour out my soul: this phrase notes either,

1. His fervent prayer, as it is taken, 1 Samuel 1:15 Psalm 62:8. Or,

2. His bitter sorrows, whereby his very heart was almost melted or dissolved, and his spirits spent, and he was ready to faint away; as it is used Job 30:16 Lamentations 2:12. Compare Psalm 22:14. Or rather,

3. Both together; that he breathed out his sorrows and sad complaints unto God by fervent prayers. In me, i.e. within my own breast, between God and my own soul; not openly, lest mine enemies should turn it into matter of rejoicing and insulting over me.

I had gone, to wit, in the way to Jerusalem. And my sorrow was increased by the remembrance of my former enjoyments. Compare Lamentations 1:7.

With the multitude; according to the custom, and in the company of Israelites, who went thither in great numbers. Compare Psalm 84:6,7.

I went with them; or, I led them, encouraging them by my presence and forwardness.

That kept holyday; or, that kept the feast, to wit, the three solemn festival solemnities, which they kept holy unto the Lord. When I remember these things,.... Either the reproaches of his enemies; or rather his past enjoyments of God in his house, he after makes mention of;

I pour out my soul in me, that is, he had no life nor spirit in him, but was quite overwhelmed with distress and anguish; or he poured out his soul in prayer to God, that it might be with him as in times past;

for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God; the place of public worship, whither he had often gone, with great pleasure and delight; and, which added thereto, there were many that went along with him; or whom he had "caused to go" (g), had brought along with him; which is the sense of the word, only used here and in Isaiah 38:15; as Dr. Hammond from R. Tanchum and Aben Walid, has shown: a good man will not only attend divine worship himself, but will bring others with him: but now, he could neither go alone, nor in company, the remembrance of which greatly affected his mind; see Psalm 137:1;

with the voice of joy and praise: the people singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs;

with a multitude that kept holy day; as especially on the three great festivals in the year, the feasts of passover, pentecost, and tabernacles, when all the males of Israel appeared before God together, and which was a large multitude; and a delightful sight it was to behold them, when they were all engaged in religious worship at once.

(g) "deduceham", Tigurine version; "assumebum mihi iilos", Michaelis; "efficiebam eos in societatem collectos socios esse mihi", Gussetius, p. 180.

When I remember {d} 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.

(d) That is, how I led the people to serve you in your tabernacle, and now seeing my contrary estate, I die for sorrow.

4. This let me remember as I pour out my soul upon me,

How I was wont to pass on with the throng, leading them to the house of God,

With the voice of singing and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.

He must needs give free course to his feelings, to the emotional part of his nature, as he thinks of the past. The renderings in me (A.V.) or within me (R.V.) miss the idiomatic force of the preposition which means upon me. The soul (as elsewhere the heart or the spirit) is distinguished from a man’s whole ‘self,’ and regarded as acting upon it from without. See Delitzsch, Biblical Psychology, pp. 179 ff. Cp. Psalm 42:5-6; Psalm 42:11, Psalm 43:5; Psalm 131:2; Psalm 142:3; Lamentations 3:20; Job 30:16; Jeremiah 8:18.

How I was wont to pass on. The tense denotes that it was his custom thus to conduct pilgrims to Jerusalem for the festivals. The joyousness of these processions was proverbial (Isaiah 30:29; cp. Psalm 35:10; Psalm 51:11).

But what is the connexion of thought? Is it that he indulges in the recollection of the past, as a luxury of grief, because “a sorrow’s crown of sorrow is remembering happier things”? Or is it not rather that the retrospect is the best antidote to the sneers of the heathen? The God, in Whose service he once found such delight, cannot really have deserted him. The verse will then form the natural transition to Psalm 42:5. Cp. Psalm 42:6, and Psalm 77:11.

Leading them. The word is found elsewhere only in Isaiah 38:15. It seems to denote the slow and stately march of a solemn procession, and may be rendered as in R.V. marg. went in procession with them, or, with a slight change of vowels, taken transitively.Verse 4. - When I remember these things; rather, these things I remember - the things remembered being those touched on in the rest of the verse - his former free access to the house of God, and habit of frequenting it, especially on festival occasions, when the multitude "kept holy day." "Deep sorrow," as Hengstenberg remarks, "tries to lose itself in the recollection of the happier past." I pour out my soul in me. "The heart pours itself out, or melts in any one, who is in a manner dissolved by grief and pain." David does not alleviate his sorrow, but aggravates it, by thinking of the happy past. "Nessun muggier dolore che ricordarsi di tempo felice nella miseria" (Dante). For I had gone (rather, how I went) with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holy day (comp. 2 Samuel 6:12-19). (Heb.: 41:11-13) Having now described their behaviour towards him, sick in soul and body as he is, so devoid of affection, yea, so malignantly hostile and so totally contrary to the will and promise of God, David prays that God would raise him up, for he is now lying low, sick in soul and in body. The prayer is followed, as in Psalm 39:14 and many other passages, by the future with ah: that I may be able to requite them, or: then will I requite them. What is meant is the requiting which it was David's duty as a duly constituted king to exercise, and which he did really execute by the power of God, when he subdued the rebellion of Absalom and maintained his ground in opposition to faithlessness and meanness. Instead of בּזאת אדע (Genesis 42:33, cf. Genesis 15:8, Exodus 7:17; Numbers 16:28; Joshua 3:10) the expression is בּזאת ידעתּי in the sense of (ex hoc) cognoverim. On חפצתּ בּי cf. Psalm 18:20; Psalm 22:9; Psalm 35:27. By the second כּי, the בּזאת, which points forwards, is explained. The adversatively accented subject ואני stands first in Psalm 41:13 as a nom. absol., just as in Psalm 35:13. Psalm 41:13 states, retrospectively from the standpoint of fulfilment, what will then be made manifest and assure him of the divine good pleasure, viz., Jahve upholds him (תּמך as in Psalm 63:9), and firmly sets him as His chosen one before Him (cf. Psalm 39:6) in accordance with the Messianic promise in 2 Samuel 7:16, which speaks of an unlimited future.
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