Psalm 42:7
Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.
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(7) Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts.—Better, Flood calleth unto flood at the noise of thy cataracts. The exile is describing what was before his eyes, and in his ears. There can, therefore, be little doubt that, as Dean Stanley observed, this image was furnished by the windings and rapids of the Jordan, each hurrying to dash itself with yet fiercer vehemence of sounding water over some opposing ledge of rocks “in cataract after cataract to the sea.” Thus every step taken on that sorrowful journey offered an emblem of the griefs accumulating on the exile’s heart. The word rendered waterspout only occurs besides in 2Samuel 5:8, where the Authorised Version has “gutter,” but might translate “watercourse.”

All thy waves and thy billows.—From derivation, breakers and rollers. The poet forgets the source of his image in its intensity, and from the thought of the cataract of woes passes on to the more general one of “a sea of troubles,” the waves of which break upon him or roll over his head. The image is common in all poetry. (Comp. “And as a sea of ills urges on its waves; one falling, another, with huge (literally, third) crest, rising.”—Æsch., Seven against Thebes, 759.)

Psalm 42:7. Deep calleth unto deep — One affliction comes immediately after another, as if it were called for, or invited by the former. This he expresses by a metaphor taken from the old flood, when the upper deep, or collection of waters in the clouds, called for the lower deep, or abyss of waters in the sea and rivers, and in the bowels of the earth; that both might unite their forces to drown the world. Thus the Chaldee understands it. Or the metaphor may be taken from the sea, when its waves rage, and deep furrows are everywhere made in it, into which ships, and the people in them, sink down, and then rise and sink again, successively and continually. At the noise of thy water-spouts — This may be understood of water- spouts, properly so called; which, according to Dr. Shaw, p. 333 of his Travels, are more frequent on the Syrian and Jewish coasts than in any other part of the Mediterranean, and could not be unknown to David and the Israelites. Or he may allude to violent and successive rains, which frequently descend from heaven at the noise or call of God’s water-spouts, the clouds; which, by their terrible thunders, and rattling noises, as it were, incite and call forth the heavy and tempestuous showers which are contained within them. But Bishop Lowth, in his 6th Prelection, translates this clause, Abyss calleth to abyss, thy cataracts roaring around. And he thinks the psalmist’s metaphor is taken from the sudden torrents of water which were wont to descend from the mountains twice in the year, and to burst through the narrow valleys of that hilly country, from the periodical rains, and the melting of the snows of Lebanon and the neighbouring mountains, in the beginning of the summer, and causing the river Jordan to overflow all its banks. All thy waves and billows are gone over me — That is, are gone over my head, as the verb עברו, gnabaru, is used Psalm 38:4. They do not lightly sprinkle me, but almost overwhelm me. Thus Bishop Lowth, All thy waves and waters have overwhelmed me. The meaning is, Thou hast sent one sharp trial or affliction upon me after another.

42:6-11 The way to forget our miseries, is to remember the God of our mercies. David saw troubles coming from God's wrath, and that discouraged him. But if one trouble follow hard after another, if all seem to combine for our ruin, let us remember they are all appointed and overruled by the Lord. David regards the Divine favour as the fountain of all the good he looked for. In the Saviour's name let us hope and pray. One word from him will calm every storm, and turn midnight darkness into the light of noon, the bitterest complaints into joyful praises. Our believing expectation of mercy must quicken our prayers for it. At length, is faith came off conqueror, by encouraging him to trust in the name of the Lord, and to stay himself upon his God. He adds, And my God; this thought enabled him to triumph over all his griefs and fears. Let us never think that the God of our life, and the Rock of our salvation, has forgotten us, if we have made his mercy, truth, and power, our refuge. Thus the psalmist strove against his despondency: at last his faith and hope obtained the victory. Let us learn to check all unbelieving doubts and fears. Apply the promise first to ourselves, and then plead it to God.Deep calleth unto deep - The language used here would seem to imply that the psalmist was near some floods of water, some rapid river or water-fall, which constituted an appropriate illustration of the waves of sorrow that were rolling over his soul. It is not possible to determine exactly where this was, though, as suggested in the verse above, it would seem most probable that it was in the vicinity of the upper portion of the Jordan; and doubtless the Jordan, if swollen, would suggest all that is conveyed by the language used here. The word rendered deep - תהום tehôm - means properly a wave, billow, surge, and then, a mass of waters; a flood - the deep; the sea. In this latter sense it is used in Deuteronomy 8:7; Ezekiel 31:4; Genesis 7:11; Job 28:14; Job 38:16, Job 38:30; Psalm 36:6. Here it would seem to mean merely a wave or billow, perhaps the waves of a rapid stream dashing on one shore, and then driven to the opposite bank, or the torrents pouring over rocks in the bed of a stream. It is not necessary to suppose that this was the ocean, nor that there was a cataract or water-fall. All that is meant here would be met by the roaring waters of a swollen river. The word "calleth," here means that one wave seemed to speak to another, or one wave responded to another. See a similar expression in Psalm 19:2, "Day unto day uttereth speech." Compare the notes at that verse.

At the noise of thy water-spouts - literally, "at the voice." That is, "water-spouts" make a noise, or seem to give forth a voice; and this appears to be as if one part of the "deep" were speaking to another, or as if one wave were calling with a loud voice to another. The word "water-spouts" - צנור tsinnor - occurs only here and in 2 Samuel 5:8, where it is rendered gutter. It properly means a cataract, or a water-fall, or a water-course, as in 2 Samuel. ny pouring of water - as from the clouds, or in a swollen river, or in a "water spout," properly so called - would correspond with the use of the word here. It may have been rain pouring down; or it may have been the Jordan pouring its floods over rocks, for it is well known that the descent of the Jordan in that part is rapid, and especially when swollen; or it may have been the phenomena of a "water-spout," for these are not uncommon in the East. There are two forms in which "waterspouts" occur, or to which the name is given in the east, and the language here would be applicable to either of them.

One of them is described in the following manner by Dr. Thomson, Land and the Book, vol. i., pp. 498, 499: "A small black cloud traverses the sky in the latter part of summer or the beginning of autumn, and pours down a flood of rain that sweeps all before it. The Arabs call it sale; we, a waterspout, or the bursting of a cloud. In the neighborhood of Hermon I have witnessed it repeatedly, and was caught in one last year, which in five minutes flooded the whole mountain side, washed away the fallen olives - the food of the poor - overthrew stone walls, tore up by the roots large trees, and carried off whatever the tumultuous torrents encountered, as they leaped madly down from terrace to terrace in noisy cascades. Every summer threshing-floor along the line of its march was swept bare of all precious food, cattle were drowned, flocks disappeared, and the mills along the streams were ruined in half an hour by this sudden deluge."

The other is described in the following language, and the above engraving will furnish an illustration of it. Land and the Book, vol, ii., pp. 256, 257: "Look at those clouds which hang like a heavy pall of sackcloth over the sea along the western horizon. From them, on such windy days as these, are formed waterspouts, and I have already noticed several incipient "spouts" drawn down from the clouds toward the sea, and ... seen to be in violent agitation, whirling round on themselves as they are driven along by the wind. Directly beneath them the surface of the sea is also in commotion by a whirlwind, which travels onward in concert with the spout above. I have often seen the two actually unite in mid air, and rush toward the mountains, writhing, and twisting, and bending like a huge serpent with its head in the clouds, and its tail on the deep." We cannot now determine to which of these the psalmist refers, but either of them would furnish a striking illustration of the passage before us.

All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me - The waves of sorrow; anguish of soul; of which rolling floods would be an emblem. The rushing, and heaving, and restless waters furnished the psalmist with an illustration of the deep sorrows of his soul. So we speak of "floods of grief ... floods of tears," "oceans of sorrows," as if waves and billows swept over us. And so we speak of being "drowned in grief;" or "in tears." Compare Psalm 124:4-5.

7. The roar of successive billows, responding to that of floods of rain, represented the heavy waves of sorrow which overwhelmed him. Deep calleth unto deep, i.e. one affliction comes immediately after another, as if it were called for and invited by the former; which he expresseth by a metaphor taken either,

1. From the old flood, when the upper deep, or abyss of waters, (in the clouds,) called the lower deep, or abyss of waters in the sea and rivers, that both might unite their forces together to drown the world. And thus the Chaldee understands it. Or,

2. From the sea, when its waves rage, and it is full of deep furrows, into which ships and passengers sink down, and then rise and sink again, successively and continually. But these tempests are caused in the sea by God’s mighty winds, rather than by his water-spouts. Or,

3. From violent and successive showers of rain; which frequently come down from heaven, as it were, at the noise or call of God’s water-spouts, to wit, the clouds; which by their rattling noises and terrible thunders do in a manner invite and call forth the showers which are contained in their bowels.

All thy waves and thy billows; thou hast sent one sharp trial or affliction upon me after another.

Are gone over me, i.e. are gone over my head, as this same verb is used, Psalm 38:4. They do not lightly sprinkle me, but almost overwhelm me.

Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of the water spouts,.... By which are meant afflictions, comparable to the deep waters of the sea, for their multitude and overwhelming nature; see Psalm 69:1; these came pouring down, one after another, upon the psalmist: as soon as one affliction over, another came, as in the case of Job; which is signified by one calling to another, and were clamorous, troublesome, and very grievous and distressing;

all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me: with which he seemed to be covered and overwhelmed, as a ship is at sea. It may be observed, that the psalmist calls afflictions God's water spouts, and "his" waves and "his" billows; because they are appointed, sent, ordered, and overruled by him, and made to work for the good of his people: and now, though these might seem to be a just cause of dejection, yet they were not, as appears from Psalm 42:8.

{g} Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.

(g) Afflictions came so thick upon me that I felt overwhelmed: by which he shows there is no end to our misery till God is pacified and sends help.

7. at the noise of thy waterspouts] Better, in the roar of thy cataracts. God is sending upon him one trouble after another. He is overwhelmed with a flood of misfortunes. The metaphorical language is derived from the surrounding scenery. The roar of the cataracts calling to one another from opposite sides of the valley is like the voice of one abyss of waters (Psalm 33:7 note) summoning another to break forth and join in overwhelming him. The torrents and eddies of the Jordan suggest the breakers and waves of calamity which have gone over his head. Tristram in describing Banias speaks of “the impetuous stream which has hewn out its channel in the black basalt,” and of the “wild medley of cascades and dashing torrents” everywhere (Land of Israel, p. 573). According to Robinson (Researches, iii. 405) “in the rainy season, and at the time of the melting of the snow on Hermon, an immense volume of water must rush down the chasm” below the ridge on which the castle stands. It might be supposed that the figure of breakers and waves must have been suggested by the sea, but no one who has seen mountain streams in spate will doubt that the words might refer to the Jordan in flood. The winter rainfall in Palestine is enormous. See Tristram’s Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 31.

Psalm 42:7 b is borrowed in Jonah’s prayer (Jonah 2:3).

Verse 7. - Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts. Blow follows blow. Misfortunes "come not in single file, but in battalions." The imagery may be taken from the local storms that visit the Trans-Jordanic territory (see Lynch, 'Expedition to the Jordan and the Dead Sea;' and Wilson, 'Negeb,' pp. 26, 27). All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me (comp. Psalm 69:1, 2; Psalm 88:7, 17; Psalm 144:7). Psalm 42:7(Heb.: 42:7-12) The poet here continues to console himself with God's help. God Himself is indeed dishonoured in him; He will not suffer the trust he has reposed in Him to go unjustified. True, עלי seems at the beginning of the line to be tame, but from עלי and אזכּרך, the beginning and end of the line, standing in contrast, עלי is made emphatic, and it is at the same time clear that על־כּן is not equivalent to אשׁר על־כּן - which Gesenius asserts in his Lexicon, erroneously referring to Psalm 1:5; Psalm 45:3, is a poetical usage of the language; an assertion for which, however, there is as little support as that כּי על־כּן in Numbers 14:43 and other passages is equivalent to על־כּן כּי. In all such passages, e.g., Jeremiah 48:36, על־כּן means "therefore," and the relationship of reason and consequence is reversed. So even here: within him his soul is bowed very low, and on account of this downcast condition he thinks continually of God, from whom he is separated. Even in Jonah 2:8 this thinking upon God does not appear as the cause but as the consequence of pain. The "land of Jordan and of Hermonim" is not necessarily the northern mountain range together with the sources of the Jordan. The land beyond the Jordan is so called in opposition to ארץ לבנון, the land on this side. According to Dietrich (Abhandlungen, S. 18), חרמונים is an amplificative plural: the Hermon, as a peak soaring far above all lower summits. John Wilson (Lands of the Bible, ii. 161) refers the plural to its two summits. But the plural serves to denote the whole range of the Antilebanon extending to the south-east, and accordingly to designate the east Jordanic country. It is not for one moment to be supposed that the psalmist calls Hermon even, in comparison with his native Zion, the chosen of God. הר מצער, i.e., the mountain of littleness: the other member of the antithesis, the majesty of Zion, is wanting, and the מן which is repeated before הר is also opposed to this. Hitzig, striking out the מ of מהר, makes it an address to Zion: "because I remember thee out of the land of Jordan and of summits of Hermon, thou little mountain;" but, according to Psalm 42:8, these words are addressed to Elohim. In the vicinity of Mitz‛are, a mountain unknown to us, in the country beyond Jordan, the poet is sojourning; from thence he looks longingly towards the district round about his home, and just as there, in a strange land, the wild waters of the awe-inspiring mountains roar around him, there seems to be a corresponding tumult in his soul. In Psalm 42:8 he depicts the natural features of the country round about him - and it may remind one quite as much of the high and magnificent waterfalls of the lake of Muzêrı̂b as of the waterfall at the course of the Jordan near Paneas and the waters that dash headlong down the mountains round about - and in Psalm 42:8 he says that he feels just as though all these threatening masses of water were following like so many waves of misfortune over his head (Tholuck, Hitzig, and Riehm). Billow follows billow as if called by one another (cf. Isaiah 6:3 concerning the continuous antiphon of the seraphim) at the roar (לקול as in Habakkuk 3:16) of the cataracts, which in their terrible grandeur proclaim the Creator, God (lxx τῶν καταῤῥακτῶν σου) - all these breaking, sporting waves of God pass over him, who finds himself thus surrounded by the mighty works of nature, but taking no delight in them; and in them all he sees nothing but the mirrored image of the many afflictions which threaten to involve him in utter destruction (cf. the borrowed passage in that mosaic work taken from the Psalms, Jonah 2:4).

He, however, calls upon himself in Psalm 42:9 to take courage in the hope that a morning will dawn after this night of affliction (Psalm 30:6), when Jahve, the God of redemption and of the people of redemption, will command His loving-kindness (cf. Psalm 44:5, Amos; 3f.); and when this by day has accomplished its work of deliverance, there follows upon the day of deliverance a night of thanksgiving (Job 35:10): the joyous excitement, the strong feeling of gratitude, will not suffer him to sleep. The suffix of שׁירה is the suffix of the object: a hymn in praise of Him, prayer (viz., praiseful prayer, Habakkuk 3:1) to the God of his life (cf. Sir. 23:4), i.e., who is his life, and will not suffer him to come under the dominion of death. Therefore will he say (אומרה), in order to bring about by prayer such a day of loving-kindness and such a night of thanksgiving songs, to the God of his rock, i.e., who is his rock (gen. apos.): Why, etc.? Concerning the different accentuation of למה here and in Psalm 43:2, vid., on Psalm 37:20 (cf. Psalm 10:1). In this instance, where it is not followed by a guttural, it serves as a "variation" Hitzig); but even the retreating of the tone when a guttural follows is not consistently carried out, vid., Psalm 49:6, cf. 1 Samuel 28:15 (Ew. 243, b). The view of Vaihinger and Hengstenberg is inadmissible, viz., that Psalm 42:10 to Psalm 42:11 are the "prayer," which the psalmist means in Psalm 42:9; it is the prayerful sigh of the yearning for deliverance, which is intended to form the burthen of that prayer. In some MSS we find the reading כּרצח instead of בּרצח; the בּ is here really synonymous with the כּ, it is the Beth essentiae (vid., Psalm 35:2): after the manner of a crushing (cf. Ezekiel 21:27, and the verb in Psalm 62:4 of overthrowing a wall) in my bones, i.e., causing me a crunching pain which seethes in my bones, mine oppressors reproach me (חרף with the transfer of the primary meaning carpere, as is also customary in the Latin, to a plucking and stripping one of his good name). The use of ב here differs from its use in Psalm 42:10; for the reproaching is not added to the crushing as a continuing state, but is itself thus crushing in its operation (vid., Psalm 42:4). Instead of בּאמר we have here the easier form of expression בּאמרם; and in the refrain פּני ואלהי, which is also to be restored in Psalm 42:6.

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