|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Verse 2. - My soul thirsteth for God (comp. Psalm 63:1; Psalm 143:6; Isaiah 55:1). The devout soul is always athirst for God. David felt his severance from the tabernacle and its services as a sort of severance from God himself, whom he was accustomed to approach through the services of the sanctuary (see 2 Samuel 15:25, 26). For the living God. This title of God occurs only in one other psalm (Psalm 84:2); but it was a title familiar to David (1 Samuel 17:27). It is first used in Deuteronomy 5:26; and, later, in Joshua 3:10; 2 Kings 19:4, 16; Isaiah 37:4, 17; Jeremiah 10:10; Jeremiah 23:36; Daniel 6:26; Hosea 1:10. It expresses that essential attribute of God that he is "the eternal Life" (1 John 5:20), the Source and Origin of all life, whether angelic, human, or animal. When shall I come and appear before God? Appearance in the tabernacle must here be specially meant, but with this David connects his return to God's favour and to the light of his countenance (2 Samuel 15:25).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God,.... Who is so called, in opposition to the idols of the Gentiles, which were lifeless statues; and who is the author, giver, and maintainer of natural life; and who has promised and provided eternal life in his Son; and is himself the fountain of life, and the fountain of living waters, and a place of broad rivers and streams: particularly his lovingkindness, which is better than life, is a pure river of water of life, the streams where make glad the saints; and hence it is that the psalmist thirsted after God, and the discoveries of his love: saying,
when shall I come and appear before God? meaning, not in heaven, as desiring the beatific vision; but in the tabernacle, where were the worship of God, and the ark, the symbol of the divine Presence, and where the Israelites appeared before him, even in Zion; see Psalm 84:7.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. appear before God—in acts of worship, the terms used in the command for the stated personal appearance of the Jews at the sanctuary.
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