Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Psalms 42:5

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? - Bad as the times are, desolate as Jerusalem is, insulting as are our enemies, hopeless as in the sight of man our condition may be, yet there is no room for despair. All things are possible to God. We have a promise of restoration; he is as good as he is powerful; hope therefore in him.

I shall yet praise him - For my restoration from this captivity. He is the health of my soul. I shall have the light and help of his countenance, his approbation, and a glorious deliverance wrought by his right hand.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? - Margin, bowed down. The Hebrew word means to bow down, to incline oneself; then, usually, to prostrate oneself as in public worship; and then, to sink down under the weight of sorrow; to be depressed and sad. The Septuagint renders it, “Why art thou grieved?” - περίλυπος perilupos So the Vulgate. This is an earnest remonstrance addressed by himself to his own soul, as if there were really no occasion for this excessive depression; as if he cherished his grief improperly. There was a brighter side, and he ought to turn to that, and take a more cheerful view of the matter. He had allowed his mind to rest on the dark side, to look at the discouraging things in his condition. He now felt that this was in some measure voluntary, or had been indulged too freely, and that it was wrong: that it was proper for a man like him to seek for comfort in brighter views; that it was a duty which he owed to himself and to the cause of religion to take brighter views. We may remark,

(1) That there are two sides to the events which occur, and which seem so discouraging to us - a dark side and a bright side.

(2) That in certain states of mind, connected often with a diseased nervous system, we are prone to look only on the dark side, to see only what is gloomy and discouraging.

(3) That this often becomes in a sense voluntary, and that we find a melancholy satisfaction in being miserable, and in making ourselves more unhappy, as if we had been wronged, and as if there were a kind of virtue in dejection and gloom - in “refusing,” like Rachel, “to be comforted” Jeremiah 31:15; perhaps also feeling as if by this we were deserving of the divine approbation, and laying the foundation for some claim to favor on the score of merit.

(4) That in this we are often eminently guilty, as putting away those consolations which God has provided for us; as if a man, under the influence of some morbid feeling, should find a kind of melancholy pleasure in starving himself to death in the midst of a garden full of fruit, or dying of thirst by, the side of a running fountain. And

(5) That it is the duty of the people of God to look at the bright side of things; to think of the past mercies of God; to survey the blessings which surround us still; to look to the future, in this world and the next, with hope; and to come to God, and cast the burden on him. It is a part of religious duty to be cheer ful; and a man may often do more real good by a cheerful and submissive mind in times of affliction, than he could by much active effort in the days of health, plenty, and prosperity. Every sad and desponding Christian ought to say to his soul, “Why art thou thus cast down?”

And why art thou disquieted in me? - Troubled, sad. The word means literally,

(1) to growl as a bear;

(2) to sound, or make a noise, as a harp, rain, waves;

(3) to be agitated, troubled, or anxious in mind: to moan internally. See the notes at Isaiah 16:11; compare Jeremiah 48:36.

Hope thou in God - That is, trust in him, with the hope that he will interpose and restore thee to the privileges and comforts heretofore enjoyed. The soul turns to God when all other hope fails, and finds comfort in the belief that he can and will aid us.

For I shall yet praise him - Margin, give thanks. The idea is, that he would yet have occasion to give him thanks for his merciful interposition. This implies a strong assurance that these troubles would not last always.

For the help of his countenance - literally, “the salvations of his face,” or his presence. The original word rendered help is in the plural number, meaning salvations; and the idea in the use of the plural is, that his deliverance would be completed or entire - as if double or manifold. The meaning of the phrase “help of his countenance” or “face,” is that God would look favorably or benignly upon him. Favor is expressed in the Scriptures by lifting up the light of the countenance on one. See the notes at Psalm 4:6; compare Psalm 11:7; Psalm 21:6; Psalm 44:3; Psalm 89:15. This closes the first part of the psalm, expressing the confident belief of the psalmist that God would yet interpose, and that his troubles would have an end; reposing entire confidence in God as the only ground of hope; and expressing the feeling that when that confidence exists the soul should not be dejected or cast down.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 629

Dear Brother P,

I see by your letter that you are in a state of unbelief, questioning whether there is hope in your case. As Christ's ambassador I would say to you: “Hope thou in God.” He “so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Now cannot you take courage from this gracious promise? Satan may tell you many times that you are a sinner; but you can answer: “True, I am a sinner; but ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.’” 5T 629.1

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Ellen G. White
The Upward Look, 222.1

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. Psalm 42:5. UL 222.1

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