Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?

Psalm 42 and 43

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Recite the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

  1. This from a person, perhaps a Levite, living near Mt. Herman, who is prevented by illness from travelling to the Temple in Jerusalem that he might worship in God’s presence. It is probable that the two Psalms were one and we see that in the Hebrew Bible there is no title for Psalm 43. The present title was added at some point.
  2. The Oxford Annotated Bible states that the two Psalms are “a prayer for healing in preparation for a pilgrimage.”
  3. There are three stanzas (metrical units): Psalm 43:1–5, 42:6–11, and Psalm 43–1-5.
  4. The author is deeply distressed with the reality that he will not “appear before God.” Others chide him that his illness, that which prevents his attendance at the Temple, is his personal fault.
  5. He remembers former times when with great joy and praise he was in the great procession of pilgrims as they entered into the presence of God in the Temple.
  6. Thus, he is “cast down” yet he has hope that once again he will bring praise to God, whom he calls “my salvation and my God.”
  7. His lament and his hope are both present with him, but foremost is his “hope in God” that he shall again praise Him.
  8. Here we can identify with this pilgrim who presses on, not deterred by others nor his present circumstances. He knows there is salvation in no one or nothing else.

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