Psalm 42:11
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why the unease within me? Put your hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.
Sermons
A Sick SoulJ. H. Jowett, M. A.Psalm 42:11
Causes and Cure of MelancholyH. Kollock, D. D.Psalm 42:11
David's Malady and David's MedicineA. G. Brown.Psalm 42:11
DownheartednessW. Hoyt, D. DPsalm 42:11
Means not to be Overcharged with SorrowPsalm 42:11
My GodR. Berry.Psalm 42:11
Religious DepressionT. F. Lockyer, B. A.Psalm 42:11
The Causes and Cure of Spiritual DistressT. Gordon.Psalm 42:11
The Good Man's PeaceW. Bridge, M. A.Psalm 42:11
The Soul's Conflict with ItselfPsalm 42:11
True Peace May be InterruptedW. Bridge, M. A.Psalm 42:11
Trust in God Our Best Support in All Our Troubles and AfflictionsBishop Smalridge.Psalm 42:11
Unfailing HopeJ. P. Chown.Psalm 42:11
Unfitting DejectionPsalm 42:11
A Thirst for GodC. Clemance Psalm 42:1-11
Desire After GodPsalm 42:1-11
GodHomilistPsalm 42:1-11
Living ThirstJ. Cumming, D. D.Psalm 42:1-11
Man's Craving for GodSamuel Cox, D. D.Psalm 42:1-11
Over the Aqueducts of WaterJames Nell, M. A.Psalm 42:1-11
Panting After GodBishop Armstrong.Psalm 42:1-11
Panting After GodJ. Kirkwood.Psalm 42:1-11
Religious Affections Attended with Increase of Spiritual LongingLewis O. Thompson.Psalm 42:1-11
Religious DepressionF. W. Robertson, M. A.Psalm 42:1-11
Spiritual DepressionW. Forsyth Psalm 42:1-11
The Feelings and Sentiments of a Renewed SoulT. Gordon.Psalm 42:1-11
The Korachite PsalmsA. Maclaren, D. D.Psalm 42:1-11
The Longing for GodCanon Morse.Psalm 42:1-11
The Panting HartPsalm 42:1-11
The Religious Aspects of a Soul in EarnestHomilistPsalm 42:1-11
The Soul Compared to a HindA. Maclaren, D. D.Psalm 42:1-11
The Soul of Man has no Resource Independent of GodPsalm 42:1-11
The Soul's Thirst for GodBishop Harvey Goodwin.Psalm 42:1-11
Thirsting for GodG. Thacker.Psalm 42:1-11
Thirsting for GodC. Bradley, M. A.Psalm 42:1-11
Thirsting for GodG. Hunsworth, M. A.Psalm 42:1-11
Thirsting for GodJ. Parker, D. D.Psalm 42:1-11
Association is a potent factor in life. Here it may have worked by contrast. "Mizar," as a little hill, may have called to the mind of David, in exile, the mountains of Judah, and the far-off land of his fathers and his God. We may take "Mizar" to illustrate -

I. THE CHANGES OF LIFE. As with David, so with us, changes come. We may have rest or be compelled to wander. We may have the joys of home or we may be doomed to solitude and to exile. Wherever we are, let us "remember" God (Psalm 56:8; Daniel 9:3, 4).

II. THE RESTING-PLACES OF LIFE. We may be weary and sad, but God is able to give us comfort. Seated on some "Mizar," we may rest and be thankful. Looking back, there is much to awaken, not only our penitence, but our praise. Looking on, there is much to inspire us with hope. There are heights before us to be won. Let us press on with renewed courage.

III. THE SACRED MEMORIES OF LIFE. The noblest and most inspiring associations are those connected with God. Jacob had Bethel, Moses had the burning bush, Daniel the lions' den. So we too may have our holy places, to remember with gratitude and love and hope. The thought of what God has been to us leads us to remember what we should be to God. Past kindnesses and deliverances assure us of continued favour. Let us walk worthy of our high calling.

IV. THE UNDYING HOPES OF LIFE. Whatever happens, God is with us. He does not change. His purposes and his love are the same now as in the past. From our "Mizar" let us say, "I will remember thee." Thus "Mizar" may he to us as "the Delectable Mountains" to the pilgrims, and though it be little in itself, by faith it may enable us to gaze upon the way before us with hope, and to gain glimpses of the glorious land which, though far off, is yet near, where we shall see the King in his beauty, and serve him in love for ever and ever.

"Not backward are our glances bent, But onward to our Father's house." W.F.







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.
The psalm has a beauty all its own — the beauty of an April morning — full of contrasts and surprises. Extremes meet in a single verse, and are repeated over and over again, brief though the psalm is. The "Kyrie" and the "Gloria" follow each other in quick succession, whilst often there is the "harmony of discord" worthy of a Mendelssohn.

I. LET US EXAMINE THE PATIENT. That he is far from well there can be no doubt. The whole tenor of his language implies disease, and so distinctly are the symptoms described that we need be at no loss to discover his malady. It is depression. Now, this is —

1. An internal disease — it has to do with his soul. Of all diseases, internal ones are the worst, especially when they are spiritual. Outward trouble will not hurt a man much so long as it keeps to the outward. The sailor cares not because the green waves with crested heads curl over and dash against the vessel, shaking it from stem to stern; or because they, rising in their wrath, leap upon the deck, and with wild glee pour off again through the port holes. But his trouble is that of the sailor when from one to another the whisper passes through the ship, "We have sprung a leak." The water in the hold is more dreaded than all the ocean without. Such was the case with David. He could say, "The waters have come into my soul."

2. But notice next that although inward in its nature its effects are to be seen in the countenance. In our text we read that God is the health of our countenance: if, then, His presence be wanting the countenance suffers. It is so with the body: inward disease will show itself on the countenance. And so it is with inward care. The only doctor that some Christians need is their God, and the only medicine they require is hope. Great prostration is one of the signs of this disease.

3. Another sign is that of burning thirst. You get that in the first and second verses. This disease may arise from many different causes. Then there is conformity to the world, that condition so rampant in the Church of our day.

II. LET US NOW CAREFULLY ANALYZE THE MEDICINE PRESCRIBED.

(A. G. Brown.)

I. THERE IS SUCH A PEACE. God's people ordinarily possess it. Hence, David asks, "Why art thou cast down?" etc. It was not usual for him to be thus disquieted. For —

1. The Father is engaged to give peace unto them.

2. The Son also.

3. The Holy Ghost likewise. For this is He sent as the Comforter. And He is this both in heaven above and in our own bosoms (1 John 1:2; John 14:16).

II. BUT EXPERIENCE SEEMS TO CONTRADICT all this, for many of God's people have not peace, but disquietude. But, remember, general rules have always some exceptions, and in this matter note —

1. There is a fundamental peace which God's people have, and there is an additional peace: the first arises from their justification, the second from their sense of it.

2. And there is a great difference between peace, comfort and joy. A man may have peace that hath no comfort, and comfort but no joy. One is beyond the other.

3. There is a peace which lies in opposition to what one hath been, and a peace that is in opposition to what one would be. I may be grateful that I am not that sinner I was, but I may be disquieted that I yet am not what I would be.

4. There may be a secret, dormant peace, where there is not an awakened and apparent peace. This latter may be a while absent, but the former is not.

III. CONCLUSION.

1. Then behold what a blessed condition God's saints are in. This truth appeals to the ungodly. It did so once to a great man in Germany, that it was the beginning of his conversion. lie was a papist, a profane person; and coming occasionally to hear Peter Martyr preach, he heard him say, "When ye see men at a distance skipping, leaping and dancing, ye think the men are mad; but when ye draw near to them, hear what music they have, then ye do not wonder; but ye rather wonder at yourselves that ye should wonder at them. So, when you look upon the godly at a distance, and see them running after ordinances, and frequenting the means and rejoicing in the ways of God, you think, and ye say, they are mad; but if you draw near to a godly course, and perceive what music these people have within, you say not they are mad, but you rather wonder at yourselves, that you should wonder at them." This saying struck the nobleman and led him to look to his condition and to turn to God. Yes, the saints have music within, peace and quiet within, as a rule, though here and there there may be exceptions.

2. But some are in doubt whether their peace be counterfeit. There is such a false peace (Deuteronomy 24:19).

3. But there is a true peace given of the Holy Spirit. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace," etc. And thus it may be known.

4. But one says, "I never had this blessed peace and have it not now. What am I to do?" Meditate much upon the fulness of satisfaction made by the death of Christ. Then go to Christ Himself, seeking peace not merely for the comfort of it, but as a help to your grace: and take His promise along with you.

(W. Bridge, M. A.)

See in text the words, "cast down," "disquieted"; three times are they repeated. And such is the frequent experience of good men. In considering this note —

I. How FAR THE DISCOURAGEMENTS OF SAINTS MAY REACH. They may reach —

1. To the refusing of the word of consolation brought to you — "My soul refuseth to be comforted."

2. To the consequent affliction and distress of the body (Psalm 102:4, 5, 6, 9; Jeremiah 20:7-9).

II. WHY DOES GOD PERMIT THIS? It is always for His people's good.

1. So only will men come to God. So long as they find fulness in creatures they will not come (1 Timothy 4:5; 1 Samuel 30:6).

2. To make us value peace and quietness of soul.

3. God, as a tender Father, would have all the love of His children, and so removes what intercepts that love, as our earthly comforts often do.

4. Our comforts are sent to bind us to God and to wean us from the world, but sometimes we need to be weaned from these weaners that we may grow up unto more perfection.

5. To prevent over-confidence: the soul grows wanton and secure under its comforts, and then these need to be withdrawn.

6. As a wise and honest chirurgion, though he desire his patient to be soon cured, yet if he see the plaister doth not lie right, he takes it off again: so doth Christ do if He see that the comforts of His people are not laid rightly. Hence a poor soul may ere long be much discouraged, though for the present full of comfort. He will, if he lay his comfort upon internal blessings and measure God's love by them.

III. BUT HOW CAN ALL THESE DISCOURAGEMENTS STAND WITH GRACE? Can a man be thus to and fro in his comfort in Christ and yet be holy? Yes, for though there be evil in this, yet there is grace withal. Though they be much cast down, they still mourn after God. They long for His presence. But let such cast-down ones take heed —

1. Not to forget God.

2. Not so to seek comfort that you lose it yet more: there is such a thing as more haste and worse speed. Some seek comfort in a use of reason, and try to argue themselves into comfort. Others give up their common duty and neglect their proper callings, thinking that in their distress here is nothing to be done but prayer. But thus they lay themselves open to yet more temptations.

3. Not so to strain after some outward comfort that you lose that which is inward. I read of Francis Spira that, having denied the truth in order to get a good estate for his wife and children, he could no longer bear the sight of them, his conscience being in such horror of what he had done. They had been his comforts before, but now to see them was to be filled with misery. What comfort had Judas in his thirty pieces of silver? God forbid that we should drink the blood of our own peace and comfort.

IV. REMEDIES FOR OUR DISCOURAGEMENTS.

1. DO now what you would if now you were to be justified.

2. Find out why God has left you: if for some sin, be humbled for if.

3. Read much in God's Word, and so fill your mind with thoughts of Christ and with the blessed promises of God.

4. When God restores comforts to you, take care to understand them: if you would be rid of Satan coming into your quarters, fall you upon his. Attack him and do him all the mischief you can: put your comforts into Christ's hand and use them for His.

(W. Bridge, M. A.)

I. GENERAL OBSERVATIONS.

1. Grief gathered to a head will not be quieted at the first. What bustling there is here before David can get the victory over his own heart.

2. A gracious and living soul is most sensible of the want of spiritual means.

3. A godly soul, by reason of the grace given it, knows when it is well with it and when it is ill, when a good day and when a bad. Now, our text tells us of David's state wherein he was, and of his carriage in that state. He was much cast down, but he bids himself trust in God. Now, God's people are often cast down.

II. THE DISCOURAGEMENTS WHICH COME TO GOD'S PEOPLE FROM WITHOUT.

1. God Himself. He sometimes hides His face from them (Matthew 27:46). It is with the godly in this case as with vapours drawn up by the sun, which, when the extracting force of the sun leaves them, fall down again to the earth. So when the soul raised up by the beams of God's countenance is left of God, it presently begins to sink.

2. By Satan. He is all for this; being disquieted himself, he would disquiet others.

3. By Satan's instruments and servants. Hear them (Psalm 137:7).

4. By ourselves. There is a seminary of causes of discouragement within us. Our flesh is one of them.

III. THOSE THAT ARE FROM WITHIN. There is cause oft in the body of those in whom a melancholy temper prevaileth. But in the soul, too, there are causes of discouragement.

1. Want of knowledge in the understanding.

2. Forgetfulness (Hebrews 12:5).

3. Underrating our comforts (Job 15:11).

4. A childish kind of peevishness. Abraham (Genesis 15:2; Jonah 4:9; Jeremiah 31:15).

5. False reasoning and error in our discourse. Many imagine their failings to be failings, and their fallings to be fallings away.

6. Proceeding by a false method and order in judging of their estate. They will begin with election, which is not the first, but the highest step of the ladder. God descends down unto us from election to calling, and so to sanctification: we must ascend to Him, beginning where He ends.

7. Seeking for their comfort too much in sanctification, neglecting justification, relying too much upon their own performances. This is a natural kind of popery in men. St. Paul was of another mind (Philippians 3:8, 9). Still, though the main pillar of our comfort be in the free forgiveness of our sins, yet, if there be a neglect in growing in holiness, the soul will never be soundly quiet. Sin ever raises doubts and fears.

8. The neglect of keeping a clear conscience.

9. Ignorance of Christian liberty, by unnecessary scruples and doubts.

10. Want of employment. An unemployed life is a burden to itself.

11. Omission of duties and offices of love to them to whom they are due.

12. Want of firm resolution in good things. Halting is a deformed and troublesome gesture, and halting in religion is full of disquiet (1 Kings 18:21). God will not speak peace to a staggering spirit that hath always its religion and its way to choose.

IV. BUT THERE ARE POSITIVE CAUSES AS WELL AS NEGATIVE ONES.

1. When men lay up their comfort too much on outward things. These are ever changing, and to build our hopes upon them is to build castles in the air. Micah is right (Micah 2:10).

2. When we depend too much upon the opinions of other men. Men that seek themselves too much abroad find themselves disquieted at home.

3. When we look too much and too long upon the ill in ourselves and abroad. Now, learn from all this not to be too hasty in censuring others when they are cast down, for there are so many things which cast men down; and to prepare our hearts for trouble, so that when it comes we be not cast down.

V. CASTING DOWN OURSELVES CAUSES MANY EVILS.

1. It indisposes a man to all good duties.

2. It is a great wrong to God Himself.

3. It makes a man forgetful of all his former blessings, and —

4. Unfit to receive mercies. Till the Spirit of God meekens the soul, say what you will, it minds nothing.

5. It keeps off beginners from coming in. Hence, we should all labour after a calmed spirit.

VI. REMEDIES.

1. To do, as here, cite the soul before itself, and, as it were, to reason the case. God hath set up a court in man's heart, the court of conscience, and its prejudging will prevent future judging. But evil men love not this court; they are afraid of it (1 Kings 22:16; Acts 24:25). Self-love, indolence, pride, are all against it.

2. And we must not merely cite the soul before itself; but it must be pressed to give an account, and if that will not help, then speak to Jesus Christ by prayer, that as He stilled the waves, so He would quiet our hearts.

3. A godly man can cast a restraint upon himself, as David here does. There is an art in bearing troubles as in bearing burdens, and we should seek to learn it.

4. We see here again that a godly man can make good use of privacy. When be is forced to be alone he can talk with his God and himself. The wicked dread being alone. Illustration — Charles IX. of France after the massacre of St. Bartholomew's day.

5. God hath made every man a governor over himself.

( Sibbes, Richard.)

Now, dejection is so —

1. WHEN THE SOUL IS TROUBLED FOR THAT IT SHOULD NOT BE VEXED FOR. As Ahab (1 Kings 21:1, 2).

II. WHEN IT SPRINGS PROM SELF-LOVE.

III. WHEN WE TROUBLE OURSELVES, THOUGH NOT WITHOUT CAUSE, YET WITHOUT BOUNDS. We may know when our dejection is excessive.

1. When it hinders us from holy duties. It was not thus with our Lord (John 19:26, 27; Luke 23:42).

2. When we forget the grounds of comfort that are given us.

3. When it inclines the soul to evil. Therefore inquire —

IV. WHAT IS THE SWEET AND HOLY TEMPER OF SOUL THAT WE SHOULD SEEK FOR?

1. The soul must be raised to a right but yet a bounded grief. And to this end we should look at the state of the soul in itself and on what terms it is with God (Leviticus 16:29). And we should look outside of ourselves to note the causes of grief that are there (Jeremiah 9:1).

2. But our grief must be kept within bounds, and it is so, when it is ready to meet God at every turn in obedience and communion; and when reason approves our grief, and when our grief moves us to all duties of love towards others. Our concern for God's house cannot be excessive (Psalm 69:9; Psalm 119:39; Isaiah 59:19; Exodus 32:19). See, then, the life of a poor Christian in this world. He is in great danger if he be not troubled at all, and, when troubled, lest he be over-troubled. Let him ask the Holy Spirit's help (John 11:13).

( Sibbes, Richard.)

1. Take heed of building on unfounded confidence of happiness, which makes us when changes come unacquainted with them and unexpectant and unprepared. We gain help by thinking beforehand of what may come (John 16:33). Still, we are not to imagine troubles.

2. Love not overmuch anything in this world lest when we have to give it up we be brokenhearted. The way to prevent this is given in Colossians 3:1; 5:3. Take care when trouble comes not to mingle our passions with it. Our hearts are deceitful. Who would have thought that Moses would have murmured, David murdered (2 Samuel 12:9), Peter denied our Lord (Matthew 26:72)? But trouble and temptation draw forth hidden evils. Therefore let us watch over our own souls and examine them continually. Let us not yield to passion; do we not belong to God? Our passions are to serve, not rule us. Man's curse was to be a servant of servants (Genesis 9:25). Exercise strong self-denial. The gate, the entrance of religion is narrow, and we must strip ourselves of self before we can enter.

( Sibbes, Richard.)

I. THE DISEASE.

1. He is depressed. Aspiration has grown faint. We all know these heavier moments, when the spring seems to go out of our being, and we feel as though the tripping step will never return. We feel prematurely old.

2. He is not merely burdened, he is possessed by a feverish uncertainty. He can no longer look at things calmly and therefore truly, and everything appears to him in monstrous and distorted guise. There is no more fatal minister in human life than the disquieted eye. So long as the eye can gaze at things with cool and quiet vision we see things in their true perspective and proportion. But when the eye is shaken into restlessness its focus is perverted, and everything is seen awry. But the disquieted soul is not only possessed of a restless eye, it is the possessor of a nerveless hand.

II. THE REMEDY.

1. The first step in the removal of this spiritual sickness is a realization of the personal relationship of the soul to God. Once postulate God, and all things come within the plane of the credible.

2. The second essential secret of recovery is to believe in the possibility of God's health being transmitted to us. There is a striking difference between verse five and verse eleven. In the former verse the psalmist speaks of praising God "for the health of His countenance," and in verse eleven he speaks of praising God, "who is the health of my countenance." The health of the one can be transmitted to the other. We more frequently speak of the contagion of disease. Perhaps when we know a little more we shall speak with equal assurance of the contagion of health. If evil communications corrupt good man-hers, holy communications refine them. One of the secrets of obtaining a healthy spiritual life is to obtain the fellowship of saintly people. But the transcendently important clue is to obtain the friendship of God. God's holiness is contagious; to commune with Him is to become a partaker of the Divine nature.

(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)

I. CAUSES.

1. Physical weakness.

2. A constitutional tendency to look on the darker side of things.

3. The misapprehension of certain main spiritual truths, such as the character of God, conversion, etc.

II. TREATMENT OF THE DISEASE.

1. If physical weakness be the secret of our spiritual depression, then the only effectual cure is to aim at strengthening that which is really weak, namely, the bodily health; and not to weaken the body still more by fretting over a lowness of spirits which results from our feeble physical condition almost as inevitably as loss of light follows from the setting of the sun.

2. If, again, it is a constitutional tendency to look on the dark side of things generally, that has to answer for the gloomy hue of our religion, the obvious remedy is to look on the brighter aspect.

3. Or if, by unhappy training, or through the bias of temperament, we have come to entertain such views of God, and of spiritual things, as are directly causative of religious despondency, then we must do our best to remedy the evil by acquiring right views. Above all, we must sedulously and prayerfully cherish right views of God, whom we dishonour by regarding as a captious taskmaster — Him whose nature, and whose name, is Love!

(T. F. Lockyer, B. A.)

I. THE CAUSES OF RELIGIOUS MELANCHOLY.

1. Sometimes our compassionate Father, who in mercy visits us so often with external afflictions, is pleased, for the same benevolent reasons, to make us suffer internal sorrows. As when the sun is eclipsed, all nature appears to mourn, so everything is gloomy to the believer when anything interposes between his soul and the gracious countenance of his God.

2. Sometimes Satan is permitted to disquiet and distress the children of God.

3. With Satan, wicked men often concur to depress and cast down the pious.

4. But the great causes of our dejections and melancholy are to be found in ourselves.

(1)From the temperament of the body

(2)From ignorance and error.

(3)From sin.

II. WHY, LIKE THE PSALMIST, WE SHOULD ENDEAVOUR TO RISE FROM THIS STATE. Your duty to God, as wail as your own happiness, requires this. How imperfectly are all the Christian duties performed by you, when you are thus "swallowed up with overmuch sorrow": how unfitly do you worship Him who loves a cheerful and a thankful giver?

III. THE MEANS WHEREBY WE MAY AGAIN OBTAIN PEACE, COMFORT, AND A CALM TRUST IN GOD.

1. Imitate the psalmist here: instead of yielding to a vague grief, cite your soul; inquire of it the particular cause of your sorrow: different remedies will be requisite, according to the different sources of your distress: and be careful that you trifle not with God, and your comfort, and your salvation, while you inquire of your soul, "why art thou cast down?"

2. Be careful to understand the Gospel-scheme of salvation; especially the nature, the terms, the intent of the covenant of grace.

3. Study also the promises of God; view them in their variety, their extent, their application to you.

4. In your devotions, be much employed in praise and thanksgiving, instead of principally occupying yourselves with lamentations. If you cannot do this with all the joy that you would, do it as well as you can.

5. Be not unacquainted with your own hearts; examine them, to see the marks of conversion, and to "make your calling sure" to yourselves.

6. But do not confine yourselves to this self-examination; be also engaged in active duties. The growing and fruitful Christian will be a comfortable one; a degree of peace and satisfaction will follow every good action; and your graces, acquiring maturity, will shine by their own light.

(H. Kollock, D. D.)

I. THE PSALMIST'S PRESENT CONDITION OR STATE OF MIND.

1. Good men are often east down; their souls are often disquieted in them, from want, as they imagine, of actual communion with God in duty, or a sense of His gracious presence with them; and if this complaint were as well founded as it is a common and heavy complaint, it would be a just cause, no doubt, of great disquiet. But how are we to judge of our communion with God in duty?(1) We are to judge by an habitual sense of the Divinity upon our minds, and the devout reverential impressions we feel from His presence with us, and our accountableness to Him.(2) We are to judge of communion with God in duty, from the sense we have of our need of daily supplies and communications from His fulness and all-sufficiency.(3) It will be found no unsatisfying evidence of God's gracious presence with us in duty if we are enabled to deal fairly with our own hearts.

2. The suggestions of Satan assail the minds of good men. But how are we to distinguish such suggestions as may be properly ascribed to the grand enemy, and those that arise from the unsubdued corruption and lusts of our own minds? We are to distinguish by the welcome they meet with, and the free quarters we allow them, on the one hand; or by the pain and distress they give us, on the other, and by our opposition to them, and our endeavours to dismiss them. It is the consent of the will alone that constitutes the moral turpitude of every emotion or action; and while it is our daily struggle to withhold this, and we are, upon the whole, through Divine grace, enabled to withhold it, we have nothing to fear from all the efforts of Satanical machinations to taint and corrupt our affections. And here the disquieted soul may rest.

3. Not a few have been disquieted and cast down from false representations and wrong conceptions of the Divine decrees; as if thereby a certain number were under a sentence of reprobation, and for ever excluded from the Divine mercy. But this ground of disquiet is most unreasonable, and most dishonourable to God.

4. Another cause of much disquietude arises from imperfect or dark views of the ground of our acceptance with God. A cause of disquietude to which bad men are entire strangers, unless under the immediate horror of momentary convictions.

II. THE PSALMIST'S EXPOSTULATION WITH HIMSELF. "Why art thou cast down?" etc. God doth not leave His people to lie under their spiritual distresses, to pore over them, and sink under them. He leads them home to prove their hearts; he leads them to their hope.

1. He leads them to prove their spirit, and to observe what is amiss about them: to mark this passion as too violent; that affection as wrong directed; that here they have lost the guard over themselves, and spoke unadvisedly with their tongue, and have been led into indiscretions, into excesses; that there their attachment to the world, or worldly connections, have been too strong, and occupied their time and attention too much.

2. He leads them to their hope — to "Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling." It is from this Sun of Righteousness that the first dawn of hope opens upon the trembling, awakened sinner, and, ready to sink under a load of guilt, supports him. And when believers themselves fall, and thereby wound their peace and lose sight of all their evidences, they have no other refuge.

III. THE PSALMIST'S SUPPORT AMIDST ALL HIS DISTRESS. "Still hope in God," etc.

(T. Gordon.)

I. NOTHING IS SO BAD AS A CONTINUED AND ALLOWED DOWNHEARTEDNESS,

1. It magnifies troubles.

2. It drags at and prevents work.

3. It shadows blessings, making the hard things in life prominent rather than the ameliorating things.

4. It bereaves of God and shadows the promises.

II. THERE ARE MANY CAUSES FOR DOWNHEARTEDNESS IN THIS STRANGE AND DISCIPLINARY WORLD,

1. Exile.

2. Overstrain of work.

3. Hard environment.

III. HOW CAN ONE DEFEAT DOWNHEARTEDNESS AND LIFT INTO AND KEEP HIMSELF IN CHEER?

1. By recognition of the fact that downheartedness is worst for us. A man ought to esteem it as bad for the soul as some corrupting contagion is for the body.

2. By service for others. That is one trouble with downheartedness — it emphasizes self. And a good, and frequently quick, cure for it is the determined emphasizing on our part of other Selves, thus causing, somewhat at least, a forgetfulness of the morbid self.

3. I pray you also, when you are downhearted, make your work a sacrament. By strong and prayerful volition put yourself at the daily duty; do it even more painstakingly than ever, even though you feel so little like it. A high reactive feeling of victory will have large share in scattering your darkness.

4. Last and chiefest, turn to God. Follow the example of the psalmist here.

(W. Hoyt, D. D)

I. THE STATE OF MIND IN WHICH THE PSALMIST WAS AND CHRISTIANS SOMETIMES ARE.

II. THE DESIRABLENESS OF THE INVESTIGATION WHICH THE PSALMIST INSTITUTED.

1. It is very often for a want of asking the question that you are in that state at all. Many men allow partly imaginary trials to creep into their souls, that scarcely have a palpable existence if they were only inquired into, and yet when once they are seen they are watched over, and they grow until they expand to such an extent that they seem to fill the man's whole spirit and all around him; whereas if they were just looked at in the face in the light of Divine presence and in the glory that beams from another world, they would vanish in a moment like mists before the rising sun; the man's trouble would be turned into triumph, and his saddest sorrows into sweetest song. Let the inquiry be made, for it is for lack of the inquiry very often that the soul is cast down within us, and is disquieted in all it has to pass through.

2. The inquiry should be made because generally, if not entirely, it would be found that in the Divine dealings there really was no cause whatever for the soul to be cast down at all. The very form of the question implies that. "Why art thou cast down?" Really, the psalmist does not know of any reason why it should be, and he speaks to his soul like another man, of whom he was surprised and almost ashamed.

3. Another reason why the question should be asked is because very often the answer to it will be found in the soul itself. "You ask me why I am cast down within you. Remember all the accumulation of worldliness and care and greed and sinful indulgence that you have heaped up upon me till I have been buried under it and could not move."

III. THE COUNSEL THE PSALMIST ADDRESSES TO HIS SOUL. "Hope thou in God." Look at Martin Luther when his enemies are like raging lions gathered round him, and he is cast into prison and all things look dark and threatening, and a common soul might be disquieted and cast down. "No," he says, "let us sing the Psalms 46th psalm, ' God is our refuge and strength, a very present help; therefore will not we fear though the mountains be removed.'" His soul is not cast down. He hopes in God. What say you — the stream is dried up? Well, in all probability it is in mercy it has, for if that had continued you had never gone to the fountain. Hope thou in God, for if you can say, "God is my salvation," with joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation. What do you say — your strength is exhausted and you are feeble and have no power left? Then hope thou in God, for they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.

(J. P. Chown.)

I. WE HAVE FIRM GROUNDS FOR OUR TRUST IN GOD FROM THOSE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD WHICH ENABLE AND DISPOSE HIM TO HELP US. When we place our trust in God we run no risks, because there is nothing which infinite power cannot accomplish; nothing fit and expedient for us which infinite goodness is not disposed to grant; no promises of help can have been made us by a God of truth and holiness which will not be exactly and punctually fulfilled.

II. HAVE AN EYE TO THE EXAMPLES OF THOSE WHO HAVE THUS PLACED THEIR TRUST IN GOD, AND HAVE FOUND HELP IN THE TIME OF NEED. Wonderful is that instance of an unshaken confidence in God, which is displayed for our instruction, and recorded for our imitation, in the history of the sufferings and of the patience of Job.

III. Endeavour to STRENGTHEN OUR RELIANCE ON GOD FROM THE EXPERIENCE WE OURSELVES HAVE HAD OF HIS FORMER LOVINGKINDNESS TOWARDS US. To God we owe our being, and those blessings which we either now do, or ever did, enjoy. There are many calamities incident to men which we have, through the goodness of God, escaped. He who hath delivered us from so great dangers, and doth deliver, in Him we may safely trust, that He will yet deliver us. Is the Lord's hand, that has been so often stretched forth for our help, since shortened, that it can no longer save? Or is His ear, that has been so often opened to our prayers, grown heavy, that it can no more hear?

(Bishop Smalridge.)

Whatever God may be, it is no advantage to me if He is not my God. Another man's health will not make me well. Another man's wealth will not make me rich. Another man's knowledge will not make me wise. Another man's station will not make me dignified. The leaving out of one word from the will may ruin a man's hopes and blast all his expectations. The want of this one word "My" is the sinner's loss of heaven, and the dagger that smites him into the second death. That pronoun my is just worth as much to the soul as God and heaven; because without it you can't have them. That little word is the private cabinet in which all our comfort for time and for eternity is locked up. It is the one string upon which all our joys are hung.

(R. Berry.)

Judge me, O God, and plead my cause.
Homilist.
I. AN APPEAL TO GOD.

1. For Divine vindication.

2. For Divine deliverance.

3. For Divine information.

4. For Divine guidance.

II. AN APPEAL TO SELF. He was conscious of —

1. The personality of his soul.

2. The sorrow of his soul.

3. The interests of his son!

(Homilist.)

I. THE EXILE'S PRAYER.

1. For judgment against the accusations of an ungodly nation. Nothing uncommon for the Christian to be the target of wrong charges.

2. For deliverance from the deceitful and unjust man.

3. For light and truth to lead him back to Zion.

II. THE EXILE'S PROMISE.

1. To go to the altar, i.e. for sacrifice, consecration, worship.

2. To seize the harp for thanksgiving and praise.Religious services should be gladsome; those in the home as well as those in the sanctuary. Our hearts too often like "muffled drums beating funeral marches," rather than like well-tuned harps sending forth strains of sweetest harmony and gladdest adoration, etc.

III. THE EXILE'S SOLILOQUY.

1. A question.

2. A response.Cast down! — "Hope." "Disquieted!" — "Praise." "Praise Him who is the health," the beauty, the ruddy glow, the youth, "of thy countenance, and thy God."

(J. O. Keen, D. D.)

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