Psalm 42:3
My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?
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(3) My tears.—Comp. Psalm 80:5; Psalm 102:9; and Ovid Metam. x. 75, “Cura dolorque animi lacrimæque alimenta fuere.”

Where is thy God?—For this bitter taunt comp. Psalm 79:10; Psalm 115:2; Joel 2:17, etc.

Psalm 42:3-4. My tears have been my meat, &c. — That is, I am wholly given over to grief and sorrow while I hear the continual reproaches of my enemies, saying unto me, Where is thy God? — Of whom thou hast so often boasted, as of one so able and ready to help all that trust in him, and call upon him? and particularly as one engaged to thee by many great and special promises? He is departed from thee, and nowhere to be found of thee. He is either unable or unwilling to help thee, or regardless of thee. When I remember these things — Namely, my banishment from God’s presence, and my enemies’ scoffs and triumphs upon that occasion. I pour out my soul — In fervent prayer and bitter sorrows, whereby his very heart was almost melted or dissolved, and his spirits spent, and he was ready to faint away. For I had gone with the multitude — In the way to Jerusalem, according to the custom, in the company of the Israelites, who went thither in great numbers at the solemn feasts. I went with them to the house of God — Or, I led them, encouraging them by my presence and forwardness. With a multitude that kept holy-day — The feasts, or festival solemnities, which they kept holy unto the Lord.

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.My tears have been my meat - The word rendered tears in this place is in the singular number, and means literally weeping. Compare Psalm 39:12. The word meat here means literally bread, and is used in the general signification of food, as the word meat is always used in the English version of the Bible. The English word meat, which originally signified food, has been changed gradually in its signification, until it now denotes in common usage animal food, or flesh. The idea here is, that instead of eating, he had wept. The state described is that which occurs so often when excessive sorrow takes away the appetite, or destroys the relish for food, and occasions fasting. This was the foundation of the whole idea of fasting - that sorrow, and especially sorrow for sin, takes away the desire for food for the time, and leads to involuntary abstinence. Hence arose the correlative idea of abstaining from food with a view to promote that deep sense of sin, or to produce a condition of the body which would be favorable to a proper recollection of guilt.

Day and night - Constantly; without intermission. See the notes at Psalm 1:2. "While they continually say unto me." While it is constantly said to me; that is, by mine enemies. See Psalm 42:10.

Where is thy God? - See Psalm 3:2; Psalm 22:8. The meaning here is, "He seems to be utterly forsaken or abandoned by God. He trusted in God. He professed to be his friend. He looked to him as his protector. But he is now forsaken, as if he had no God; and God is treating him as if he were none of his; as if he had no love for him, and no concern about his welfare."

3. Where is thy God?—implying that He had forsaken him (compare 2Sa 16:7; Ps 3:2; 22:8). My tears have been my meat; which notes both the great abundance and constant course of his tears, and the secret satisfaction and ease which he found in giving vent to his passion this way. Possibly his tears and grief took away his appetite, and so were to him instead of food.

Where is thy God, of whom thou hast so often boasted, as of one so able and ready to help all that trust in him and call upon him, and particularly as one engaged to time by many great and special promises? He is gone and departed from thee, and no where to be found of thee. He is either unable or unwilling to help thee, or regardless of thee.

My tears have been my meat day and night,.... That is, he could not eat for sorrow, like Hannah,

1 Samuel 1:7,8; or while he was eating tears fell in plenty, and they were as common, day and night, as his food, and mixed with it (f); see Psalm 80:5;

while they continually say unto me, his enemies the Philistines,

where is thy God? theirs were to be seen and pointed at, as the host of heaven, the sun, moon, and stars, and idols of gold, silver, brass, wood, and stone; wherefore they ask, where was his? but David's God was invisible; he is in the heavens, and does what he pleases, Psalm 115:2; or the sense is, that if there was such a God he believed in and professed, and he was his servant, surely he would never have suffered him to fall into so much distress and calamity, but would have appeared for his relief and deliverance; and therefore tauntingly, and by way of reproach, ask where he was.

(f) "--lachrymaeque alimenta fuere", Ovid. Metamorph. l. 10. Fab. 1. v. 75.

{c} My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?

(c) As others take pleasure in eating and drinking, so he was altogether given to weeping.

3. my meat] Lit. my bread. Cp. Psalm 80:5; Psalm 102:4; Psalm 102:9. Tears take the place of his daily food. So Ovid, Metam. x. 75, “Cura dolorque animi lacrimaeque alimenta fuere.”

continually] Lit. all the day, and so in Psalm 42:10.

Where is thy God] Cp. Psalm 79:10; Psalm 115:2; Joel 2:17; Micah 7:10. The bitterest ingredient in his cup of sorrow is the taunt of the heathen that his plight demonstrates the impotence or indifference of the God Whom he serves.

3, 4. Present sorrow contrasted with past happiness.

Verse 3. - My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? (comp. Psalm 80:9, "Thou feedest them with the bread of tears;" and Ovid, 'Metaph.,' 10:288, "Cure dolorque animi, lachrymaeque, alimenta fuere" - "They who grieve deeply do not eat; they only weep;" yet they live on, so that their tears appear to be their aliment). David's grief at being shut out from God's presence is intensified by the reproaches of his enemies, "Where is thy God?" i.e. "Is he not wholly gone from thee? Has he not utterly cast thee off?" (comp. 2 Samuel 16:8). Psalm 42:3(Heb.: 42:2-6) The poet compares the thirsting of his soul after God to the thirsting of a stag. איּל (like other names of animals is epicoene, so that there is no necessity to adopt Bצttcher's emendation כּעיּלת תערג) is construed with a feminine predicate in order to indicate the stag (hind) as an image of the soul. ערג is not merely a quiet languishing, but a strong, audible thirsting or panting for water, caused by prevailing drought, Psalm 63:2; Joel 1:20; the signification desiderare refers back to the primary notion of inclinare (cf. Arab. 'l-mı̂l, the act of inclining), for the primary meaning of the verb Arab. ‛rj is to be slanting, inclined or bent, out of which has been developed the signification of ascending and moving upwards, which is transferred in Hebrew to an upward-directed longing. Moreover, it is not with Luther (lxx, Vulgate and authorized version) to be rendered: as the (a) stag crieth, etc., but (and it is accented accordingly): as a stag, which, etc. אפיק equals אפק is, according to its primary signification, a watercourse holding water (vid., Psalm 18:16). By the addition of מים the full and flowing watercourse is distinguished from one that is dried up. על and אל point to the difference in the object of the longing, viz., the hind has this object beneath herself, the soul above itself; the longing of the one goes deorsum, the longing of the other sursum. The soul's longing is a thirsting לאל חי. Such is the name here applied to God (as in Psalm 84:3) in the sense in which flowing water is called living, as the spring or fountain of life (Psalm 36:10) from which flows forth a grace that never dries up, and which stills the thirst of the soul. The spot where this God reveals Himself to him who seeks Him is the sanctuary on Zion: when shall I come and appear in the presence of Elohim?! The expression used in the Law for the three appearings of the Israelites in the sanctuary at solemn feasts is אל־פני ה נראה or את־פני, Exodus 23:17; Exodus 34:23. Here we find instead of this expression, in accordance with the license of poetic brevity, the bare acc. localis which is even used in other instances in the definition of localities, e.g., Ezekiel 40:44). Bttcher, Olshausen, and others are of opinion that אראה in the mind of the poet is to be read אראה, and that it has only been changed into אראה through the later religious timidity; but the avoidance of the phrase ראה פּני ה is explained from the fundamental assumption of the Tra that a man could not behold God's פנים without dying, Exodus 33:20. The poet now tells us in Psalm 42:4 what the circumstances were which drove him to such intense longing. His customary food does not revive him, tears are his daily bread, which day and night run down upon his mouth (cf. Psalm 80:6; Psalm 102:20), and that בּאמר, when say to him, viz., the speakers, all day long, i.e., continually: Where is thy God? Without cessation, these mocking words are continually heard, uttered again and again by those who are found about him, as their thoughts, as it were, in the soul of the poet. This derision, in the Psalms and in the Prophets, is always the keenest sting of pain: Psalm 79:10; Psalm 115:2 (cf. Psalm 71:11), Joel 2:17; Micah 7:10.

In this gloomy present, in which he is made a mock of, as one who is forsaken of God, on account of his trust in the faithfulness of the promises, he calls to remembrance the bright and cheerful past, and he pours out his soul within him (on the עלי used here and further on instead of בּי or בּקרבּי, and as distinguishing between the ego and the soul, vid., Psychol. S. 152; tr. p. 180), inasmuch as he suffers it to melt entirely away in pain (Job 30:16). As in Psalm 77:4, the cohortatives affirm that he yields himself up most thoroughly to this bittersweet remembrance and to this free outward expression of his pain אלּה (haecce) points forwards; the כּי (quod) which follows opens up the expansion of this word. The futures, as expressing the object of the remembrance, state what was a habit in the time past. עבר frequently signifies not praeterire, but, without the object that is passed over coming into consideration, porro ire. סך (a collateral form of סך), properly a thicket, is figuratively (cf. Isaiah 9:17; Isaiah 10:34) an interwoven mass, a mixed multitude. The rendering therefore is: that I moved on in a dense crowd (here the distinctive Zinnor). The form אדּדּם is Hithpa., as in Isaiah 38:15, after the form הדּמּה from the verb דּדה, "to pass lightly and swiftly along," derived by reduplication from the root דא (cf. Arab. d'ud'u), which has the primary meaning to push, to drive (ἐλαύνειν, pousser), and in various combinations of the ד (דא, Arab. dah, דח, Arab. da‛, דב, דף) expresses manifold shades of onward motion in lighter or heavier thrusts or jerks. The suffix, as in גּדלני equals גּדל עמּי, Job 31:18 (Ges. 121, 4), denotes those in reference to whom, or connection with whom, this moving onwards took place, so that consequently אדּדּם includes within itself, together with the subjective notion, the transitive notion of אדדּם, for the singer of the Psalm is a Levite; as an example in support of this אדּדּם, vid., 2 Chronicles 20:27., cf. v. 21. המון חוגג is the apposition to the personal suffix of this אדדם: with them, a multitude keeping holy-day. In Psalm 42:6 the poet seeks to solace and encourage himself at this contrast of the present with the past: Why art thou thus cast down... (lxx ἵνα τί περίλυπος εἶ, κ. τ. λ., cf. Matthew 26:38; John 12:27). It is the spirit which, as the stronger and more valiant part of the man, speaks to the soul as to the σκεῦος ἀσθενέστερον; the spiritual man soothes the natural man. The Hithpa. השׁתּוחח, which occurs only here and in Psalm 43:1-5, signifies to bow one's self very low, to sit down upon the ground like a mourner (Psalm 35:14; Psalm 38:7), and to bend one's self downwards (Psalm 44:26). המה (the future of which Ben-Asher here points ותּהמי, but Ben-Naphtali ותּהמּי), to utter a deep groan, to speak quietly and mumbling to one's self. Why this gnawing and almost desponding grief? I shall yet praise Him with thanksgiving, praise ישׁוּעות פּניו, the ready succour of His countenance turned towards me in mercy. Such is the text handed down to us. Although it is, however, a custom with the psalmists and prophets not to express such refrainlike thoughts in exactly the same form and words (cf. Psalm 24:7, Psalm 24:9; Psalm 49:13, 21; Psalm 56:5, Psalm 56:11; Psalm 59:10, 18), nevertheless it is to be read here by a change in the division both of the words and the verses, according to Psalm 42:5 and Psalm 43:5, ישׁוּעות פּני ואלהי, as is done by the lxx (Cod. Alex.), Syriac, Vulgate, and most modern expositors. For the words ישׁועות פניו, though in themselves a good enough sense (vid., e.g., Psalm 44:4, Isaiah 64:9), produce no proper closing cadence, and are not sufficient to form a line of a verse.

(Note: Even an old Hebrew MS directs attention to the erroneousness of the Soph pasuk here; vid., Pinsker, Einleitung, S. 133 l.)

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