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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 42:2

 

 

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?

Adam Clarke Commentary

When shall I come - When, when shall I have the privilege of appearing in his courts before God? In the mouth of a Christian these words would import: "When shall I see my heavenly country? When shall I come to God, the Judge of all, and to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant?" He who is a stranger and a pilgrim here below, and feels a heart full of piety to God, may use these words in this sense; but he who feels himself here at home, whose soul is not spiritual, wishes the earth to be eternal, and himself eternal on it - feels no panting after the living God.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 42:2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/psalms-42.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

My soul thirsteth for God - That is, as the hind thirsts for the running stream.

For the living God - God, not merely as God, without anything more definitely specified, but God considered as living, as himself possessing life, and as having the power of imparting that life to the soul.

When shall I come and appear before God? - That is, as I have been accustomed to do in the sanctuary. When shall I be restored to the privilege of again uniting with his people in public prayer and praise? The psalmist evidently expected that this would be; but to one who loves public worship the time seems long when he is prevented from enjoying that privilege.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 42:2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-42.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Psalms 42:2

My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

Thirst satisfied

Let us, that we may realize this thirst of the soul, dwell upon the contrast. There are at least four forms of attraction presented to the soul.

I. That of natural beauty. You find a delight as you gaze upon nature. But you are not satisfied.

II. Nor are you, either, with all the forms of men’s ceaseless activity, in which art, genius, or political achievement have expressed themselves--none of these things will ever, can ever, satisfy the soul.

III. Pure intellect, also, notwithstanding the power of delight there is in it, has its limits in this respect. It does not satisfy. Then there is--

IV. The region of the affections, where suns are always glorious, and sunsets only speak of brighter dawn. We have all known it in friend, sweetheart, wife, child, which have called forth the dear expressions of that strong heart that beats in Englishmen. But these dear ones pass away, and we find, as life goes on, that after all in the world of the affections, that old, strange law that pervades one branch of the contrast prevails: affection can stimulate, it can support, it can console, it can delight, it can lead to delirium at moments, but it does not satisfy. And because we are born for eternity, not for a moment, therefore, never, only by the satisfaction of the moral instincts, can this thirst be assuaged. The Ten Commandments, and especially the Gospel, are for this end. Accept a personal Christ, God in Christ, and so may you quench your otherwise unquenchable thirst. (Canon Knox Little.)

God the object of religion

There is scarcely in the Psalter a more touching psalm than this. The writer is probably an exile of the early Assyrian period. He thinks of the blessed past when he worshipped in the Temple, and had his share in “the voice of joy and praise.” But now the cruel heathen taunt him with the insulting question, “Where is thy God?” Hence, he yearns for the presence of God. He is like the thirsty stag panting after the distant water brooks; his inmost being is “athirst for God; yea, even for the living God.” What a strange phrase, the living God. It points to deities who are not alive. The Hebrews thus distinguish the true God from the false gods of the heathen (Psalms 96:5). Heathenism, according to Scripture, is a lie, and the psalmist’s soul thirsted for the living God. And still the soul of man is restless for God. Again and again the human heart has protested against all endeavours to crush the noblest of its aspirations. It wants net pleasures which may degrade, nor philosophies which may disappoint, but “the living God.” And now let us see how this thirst has been dealt with by the great speculative systems which more particularly challenge attention in the present day. And--

I. Materialism. This stands high in the world of thought. It bids us believe only what we can see and smell and taste and touch. It does not concern itself with the origin of the universe, “if it ever had one,” or with what happens to living beings after death. Chemistry can account for all things. Man’s intelligence is as the mass of his brain: this thought is “but the expression of molecular changes in the physical matter of his life, and is impossible without phosphorus; his consciousness is only a property of matter: his virtue, the result of a current of electricity, and it and vice are “products in the same sense as are sugar and vitriol.” Science, it is said, does not need such an hypothesis as God, who does not exist apart from the mind and imagination of man.

2. But where is there anything in all this to satisfy the thirst for God of which in his highest moments man is so conscious? How can that which is purely physical touch the sense which appreciates a moral world? It is a merit of Auguste Comte to have recognized the necessity of some answer; and he tells us that it is our privilege and our business to love, reverence, and worship “a Being, immense and eternal--Humanity.” Not, mark you, a sinless and Divine representative of the race, such as we Christians adore Jesus. Not even an idealized abstraction, which, in the pure realms of thought, might conceivably be separated from the weaknesses inseparable from humanity. But men know man too well to worship him. All history shows that materialism cannot silence the religious yearnings of the soul of man. Robespierre tried, but failed, as all such endeavours must. A nation of Atheists is yet to be discovered. Man is ever feeling after God.

II. Deism: this likewise fails because it reduces God to a mere force: and--

III. Pantheism also, because if God be in everything He is in human crimes as well as in human virtues. To assert God’s presence in His works is one thing; to identify Him with them is another. His omnipresence is a necessary attribute of His Deity; while if He could be identified with nature He would cease to be. If the mystery of life, which attests God’s presence in the natural world, was ever felt in all its awe and its beauty by any human soul, it was felt by the great Augustine. Witness the often quoted passage of the Confessions in which he tells us why nature was in his eyes so beautiful, by telling us how nature had led him up to God. “I asked the earth, and it said: ‘I am not He’; and all that is upon it made the same confession. I asked the sea and the depths, and the creeping things that have life, and they answered: ‘We are not thy God; look thou above us.’ I asked the breezes and the gales; and the whole air, with its inhabitants, said to me: ‘Anaximenes is in error, I am not God.’ I asked the heaven, the sun, the moon, the stars: ‘We too,’ said they, ‘are not the God whom thou seekest.’ And I said to all the creatures that surrounded the doors of my fleshly senses, ‘Ye have said to me of my God that ye are not He; tell me somewhat of Him.’ And with a great voice, they exclaimed, ‘He made us.’ . . . God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” What could He do more in order to convince us that He is not merely a Force or an Intelligence, but a Heart? At the feet of Him who could say, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father,” we understand, and rest upon the certainty, that God is moral as well as intellectual “light, and that in Him is no darkness at all.” When a man’s hold upon this creed is gone, his thoughts fall back, at best, upon the more rudimentary and less adequate ideas of the Godhead; the darker mysteries of the world’s history present themselves with more painful force; and the mind tends inevitably, in the last resort, either to Deism or to Pantheism; to a Deism which just permits God to create, and then dismisses Him from His creation; or to a Pantheism which identifies Him with all the moral evil in the universe, and ends by propagating the worship of new Baals and Ashteroths. But God being really alive, His existence is a fact with which no other fact that the human mind can come to recognize will possibly compare. For nothing that can occupy our thoughts can really compare with it in point of absorbing and momentous-import. Beyond everything else, it must have imperious claims upon the time and thought and working power of every human being who has ever felt, in any serious degree, the unspeakable solemnity of life and death. (Canon Liddon.)

The thirst after God

It has been often said that the Psalms are out of place in our common daily service. Numbers come to church, at least on Sundays, whose minds cannot be especially devout. Yet language is provided for their use which expressed the most fervent longings of the most devout men. Such language may meet, now and then, the aspirations of the private suppliant. Even he must often find the Psalms far above the measure of his thoughts, so high that he cannot attain to them. How, then, can we offer them month after month to an ordinary English congregation, as if they could possibly speak what it was feeling? Complaints of this kind are never to be lightly dismissed. They indicate a sense of the sacredness of words, which we should honour in others and Cry by all means to cultivate in ourselves. Others will say that only believers should use such words: they are false of all others. The unbeliever will only thirst for some portion that will make him forget God. But do not those who call themselves believers know that that estrangement from God, which they know so well how to describe, was once their own experience, and they are liable to its repetition? The feeling, the thirst after God, may then co-exist with another feeling of the very opposite kind. Then deadly enemies dwell very near to each other, and carry on their conflict within him. Do they give themselves credit for anything but being aware of the strife, and knowing where the strength is which may make the better side victorious? If they are calling themselves believers upon some other ground, in some other sense than this, I should wholly dispute the claim which they put forward to be in sympathy with those who trusted in God and thirsted for Him in other days. But if this is the nature and character of their belief, then I do not see how they can possibly exclude any from participation in these prayers and hymns; how they can find fault with the Church for adopting them Into her worship, and giving them, with the most utter indiscrimination, to all her children. In so far as we are occupied with our own special interests, in so far the psalm is alien to us. But where the minister is in union with his congregation, and the members feel that they have relations with each other; it is then that David’s harp gives out its music, and we in this distant land and age can accompany it. It has been the solace of many on sick-beds, because they are longing for fellowship with the Church of God.

I. When he says, as here, “My soul is athirst,” he describes no rare or peculiar state of feeling. It is as common as the thirst of the body. All men have it because they are men. For all seek happiness, though they know not what they mean.

II. The psalmist said, “My soul is athirst for God.” He knew that all men in the nations round him were pursuing gods. Pleasure was a god, wealth was a god, fame was a god. Just what the Jew had been taught was that the Lord his God was one Lord. He was not to pursue a god of pleasure or wealth or fame, nor any work of his own hands or conception of his own mind. For he was made in the image of the God, who was not far from him. Often it seemed as if there were no such God, and the Israelite was met with the taunt, “Where is thy God?” He does not pretend that he is not disturbed by these taunts. All he can do is to ask that if He is, He will reveal Himself. And that he does ask courageously. “I will say unto the God of my strength, Why hast Thou forgotten me? Why go I thus heavily, while the enemy oppresseth me?” And then he was able to say to his vexed soul, “O put thy trust in ,God, for I will yet thank Him, which is the help of my countenance and my God.” What a baptism of fire was this! What a loss of all the privileges of an Israelite, that he might find the ground upon which Israel was standing! For thus he learnt that the thirst for God is the thirst of man. The thirst for happiness means this, ends in this. The thirst of his soul could not be satisfied with anything but Him who both kindles and satisfies the thirst of all human souls.

III. “even for the living God”--so the psalmist goes on. It is no idle addition to the former words. The gods of the heathen were dead gods. They were unable to perform any of the acts of men; could neither see nor feel nor walk. There is a thirst of the soul to create something in its likeness; but the first and deepest thirst is to find in what likeness it is itself created: whence all its living powers are derived. Here, too, the psalmist is, in the strictest sense, the man. The heart and flesh of all human beings, whether they know it or not, are crying out for the living God. And they do give a thousand indications everywhere, that they cannot be contented with dead gods, or with any religious notions and forms which try to put themselves in the place of a living God.

IV. “when shall I come and appear before God?”--so the psalmist ends. It is a bold petition. Should it not rather have been, “O God, prepare me for the day when I must appear before Thee”? So we modify such words. But they uttered them in their plain and simple meaning. It meant, not that they thought there was less need than we think there is, of preparation for meeting God, but that they felt they could not prepare themselves, and that God Himself was preparing them. They held that He prepared them for His appearing by teaching them to hope for it. Oh! why not say to the cities of England, as the prophets of old said to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God”? Why not answer the calumny that we worship a tyrant on the throne of heaven by saying: “This Jesus, the deliverer of captives, the opener of sight to the blind, the friend of the poor, is He in whom we see the Father. For such a Being we know that there is an infinite thirst in your souls, because we have it in our own, and we are even such as you are. (F. D. Maurice, M. A.)

The religious faculty

I. Its reality. “My soul thirsteth for God.” Do human beings desire God in that intense way? We are all acquainted with some physical sensations of that intensity. We have all felt thirst, or at least we can imagine thirst, which is almost delirious in its desire for water. But is there anything in the human mind in connection with God that is as intense as that? I dare say most of us have had feelings to some fellow-creature that this would hardly be too strong to describe. The absence or the loss of somebody has made us sick with desire, almost sick unto death, whereas the return or the presence of the same person has made us indescribably happy. But are there any feelings in the human heart towards God comparable to these? Is there in human nature a thirst for God to be compared with the thirst for knowledge or the thirst for beauty? Open a book like St. Augustine’s “Confessions,” or “The Imitation of Christ,” and on every page you will find it.

II. Its universality. Wherever men are found they are religious beings. Religion is an element of human life everywhere, and everywhere it is an ideal and a refining element. In fact it is now generally acknowledged that the blossom and flower of every civilization is its religion, and even the most sceptical of men will now sometimes allow that the rational satisfaction of man’s religious nature is, and always will be, the greatest desideratum of the human race.

III. Its manifestations.

1. It is often an intellectual thirst, a thirst for an explanation of the tangle and mystery of existence. You have a classical illustration of that in the Book of Job, where the hero, blinded with the whirl and confusion of things, cries out for a sight of Him who rides upon the storm.

2. Still oftener, perhaps, the thirst for God is a thirst of the heart. All men, especially all women, know in some degree what it is to wish to be loved, to be thought about and cared for. These sentiments, as a rule, find their satisfaction in the domestic affections, and sometimes these are so satisfying as to fill up the whole desire. But this satisfaction is not conceded to all; and from some who have had it, it is taken away; and I rather think that all sometimes feel that they require love larger, more sympathetic, more intelligent and enduring than any human love. In fact it is only the love of God that can thoroughly satisfy the heart.

3. The thirst for God is still oftener, and more conspicuously, a thirst of the conscience. The conscience, although generally a very quiet element in our nature, may become a very clamorous one. It cries out for deliverance from guilt. It cries out for deliverance from temptation and sin. And the reason why Christianity has been such a consolation to mankind is because it has so thoroughly answered. “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” Under the lashes of conscience, man cries out, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” But Christianity answers, “Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

IV. Its culture. The religions faculty requires constant exercise, if there is to be any comprehensiveness and certainty of religious experience. Are you cultivating your religious faculty, or are you neglecting it, and allowing it to atrophy?

1. The first thing that is needed for the culture of the religious faculty is the careful observance of the Sabbath. The cessation from toil, the preaching of the Gospel, the atmosphere of peace, the influence of united worship, tend to call the religious nature out, encouraging it to revel in its native element.

2. The other opportunity for this kind of culture is prayer. That brings the religious nature nearer to its object than anything else. I remember, when a boy, hearing some one say, “backsliding always begins at the closet door.” (J. Stalker, D. D.)

Wanting God

This psalm is one of those said to be composed for, or by, the Sons of Korach. They are known to have been a family of Levites, whose inheritance lay in the wild country, on the eastern side of Jordan.

I. What did this Levite find that he wanted? Man is a composite being, body, mind, and soul. Presently we discover that body and mind are but the agents of the soul, which is the real self; and the soul’s cry is for God, the living God. This Levite thought that he wanted Jerusalem, and the Temple, and the sacrifices, and the feasts, and the music. But a self-revealing time came, and he found that his soul was really craving for God. His love was athirst for God. Its natural dependence was athirst for God. But the point of the self-discovery is put into the expression, “for the living God.” It was no mere rain-pool, still and stagnant, round which he saw those gazelles gathering. It was the fresh, living stream. As they drank, it flowed fast, cool and refreshing. They were living waters. He found he could satisfy his cravings with no mere knowledge of God, no mere teachings about God. He craved for personal contact. He wanted personal relations. To be sure that God lived, in the sense of being active, interested, really concerned in his concerns.

II. When did this Levite find out that he wanted God? It was not brought home to him while engaged in the Temple services. In some sense God’s service stood in front of God. It came to him when he was away from his usual scones, and when he was placed in unusual circumstances. Everything around him was suggestive of peaceful, religious meditation. It was all so wild, so free, so open. It was all so quiet. The routine of life prevents our troubling about the thirsting of the soul, but the routine of life never allays the thirst.

III. How this Levite responded to the awakened thirst for God. That thirst drove him to the hill-top. It always urges a man to seek loneliness, privacy, the silences of nature. The quenchings of the thirst come in the soul-communion with God, in openness to God, in conscious kindness with God, in holy joy in Him. And then awakens a new and intenser interest in all the means of peace. God waits to meet our thirst. “He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with good.” (Robert Tuck, B. A.)

Thirsting for God

Taken in its original sense, the words of our text apply only to that strange phenomenon which we call religious depression. But I venture to take them in a wider sense than that. It is not only Christian men who are east down, whoso souls “thirst for God.” It is not only men upon earth whose souls thirst for God. All men, everywhere, may take this text for theirs.

I. There is in every man an unconscious and unsatisfied longing after God, and that is the state of nature. Experience is the test of that principle. And the most superficial examination of the facts of daily life, as well as the questioning of our own souls, will tell us that this is the leading feature of them--a state of unrest.

II. There is A conscious longing, imperfect, but answered; and that is the state of grace--the beginning of religion in a man’s soul. If it be true that there are, as part of the universal human experience, however overlaid and stifled, these necessities, the very existence of the necessities affords a presumption, before all evidence, that, somehow and somewhere, they shall be supplied. If I, made by God who knew what He was doing when He made me, am formed with these deep necessities, with these passionate longings,--then it cannot but be that it is intended that they should be to me a means of leading me to Him, and that there they should be satisfied.

III. There is a perfect longing perfectly satisfied; and that is heaven. We shall not there be independent, of course, of constant supplies from the great central Fulness, any more than we are here. Thirst, as longing, is eternal; thirst, as aspiration after God, is the glory of heaven; thirst, as desire for more of Him, is the very condition of the celestial world, and the element of all its blessedness. Let me put two sayings of Scripture side by side, “My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God”--“Father Abraham, send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.” There be two thirsts, one, the longing for God, which, satisfied, is heaven; one, the longing for cessation of the self-lit fires, and for one drop of the lost delights of earth to cool the thirsty throat, which, unsatisfied, is hell. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The soul’s need and God’s nature

Men like Homer and Dante in secular literature, men like the psalmists in the Bible, take a single image, choose a forcible metaphor, and by their use of these, teach some bold scheme of human life and character, or unveil some hidden fact of human destiny. Now such a scheme of human character, involving at least a hint of human destiny, with abundant and fruitful consequences, is to be found in the text.

I. A characteristic need of the soul. We all sufficiently know what is meant by “the soul.” What, then, are its necessities?

1. The desire to know. See the curiosity of the child, so keen, so active, so simple, that you and I, in the enervating languor of later life, might well wish we had it back again. What is that desire to know concerned about? Surely the enigma of our being, of the world, of that which is around us, in us, so beautiful, so strange, so startling, yet so real; surely the meaning of this extraordinary, this self-contradictory life--the explanation of this changing scene. It is a clamorous cry which comes from, which proclaims abroad, a need of man.

2. But close upon the heels of curiosity there treads an eager thrilling sense of aspiration, not unmixed with awe. Who has not stood upon the hills at sunset and longed with a vague, wild, passionate longing to pass beyond the bounding clouds.

3. And how, as years go on, we are conscious of the passion of regret which rises as we gaze behind, athwart the receding years? Why is it that, in spite of all our reasoning, we still persist in clothing those early days of earliest childhood with a life which is not all their own? That field, that flower, that corner of the street, that dear old house, that well-known room--how much gladder, sweeter, better, as we say, than such things, such places howl Why is it, this sweet, this sad regret? You will agree with me, whatever else it may be, at least it is a clamorous cry. And all these cries of the creature--this curiosity, so strong, so keen--this awful aspiration, soaring beyond the stars--and this regret so deep, so passionate--they gather up in one wild wail of need. Oh, cynic though you be, careless though you be--nay, indifferent or hostile though you be to serious thought--tell me what need finds utterance in their voices? Is it not the same, the world-wide, world-old thought of the poor Judaean exile on the wild Abarim hills?--“My soul is athirst for God, for the living God.” Ah! this eager, unsatisfied humanity, what cries it for but Him!

II. Can that cry be answered? IS it heard? does any answer come? I am told in Revelation that there is a God, supreme in power, of essential spotless holiness, the Absolute of Perfection, the Changeless in Beauty, comprehending thus in Himself, it would seem, all imagined or imaginable objects of the desiring mind. Is not that enough? Strange creatures that we are, it is not. You and I want to know, nearer, more precisely His nature and His character. For you and I are each possessors of a mysterious gift. We want to know, and till we know we cannot rest. That gift is the mystery of life, and it makes the little lad whom you and I met wandering half-clothed and ill-fed and uncared-for an object of more arresting interest than the savage mystery of the wild Atlantic. “Is there a further cry?” I think there is. If there be one thing with which you surely must be, with which I certainly am impressed, it is our own, our astonishing individuality. To each, every truth of the Christian creed has its own abiding import thence. “What matters it to me”--so every one of you may say--“if though all in this congregation each find the satisfaction of his wants, I yet miss mine?” Whatever be the special facts of your life and mine, we are all met, the paths of all are traversed, by one ghastly spectre, and that spectre is our individual sin. Sin! You have your own, not mine, not another’s. Does one sin hold me down? Then the longing of my better self is to be delivered. Who can do it? Who? I ask who? I open the pages of the Gospel story, and straight I come across Jesus Christ. A startling figure! An unrivalled picture! None other like that in history. Julius Caesar? They wrote a powerful monograph about him the other day, and at the close drew a parallel between him and Christ. It is difficult surely for any one to avoid disliking in it the bad taste, even should he not shrink from it as a kind of blasphemy. The conqueror of Gaul was indeed a striking figure. But how unlike that other! “Athirst for God.” If so, thank God the Father for His love, for indeed He loves you; honour the bleeding wounds whence flowed the precious blood; praise the eternal Spirit, through whom the sacrifice was offered, and by whom you are sanctified. Yes, glory be to the God who was, and is, and is to come, who hath loved us with eternal love, who gives us--the way-worn, the weary--peace in believing. (Canon Knox Little.)

From man to God

Contrast this with a passage in Miss Martineau’s autobiography, where she tells us that, having got rid of the last remnants of her old beliefs, she felt as if a weight were removed: to use her own figure, as the faded rose recovers its freshness when relieved of the pressure of the atmosphere by being placed under the bell glass of an air-pump, so did her spirits open out when no longer oppressed by the overshadowing presence of a higher Power. With all thought of God gone, she could breathe freely, and find herself at home in the vast universe. The contrast is striking, suggestive, affecting. In the one case, yearning for God; in the other, relief through being able to say, “There is no God.” Can it be, then, that the modern Atheists are shaking off a nightmare, and that the psalmist’s thirst for God was simply a disease incidental to the childhood of the human race? Our answer is that whatever difficulties may lie on the Theistic side, those on the Atheistic are immeasurably greater. Let us begin with a definition. We mean by God, no misty abstraction, no attenuated personality, but the Will which purposes and performs, the Fountain and Administrator of law; also the Love within which all life is embraced. He is the God with whom Enoch walked, of whom David sang, before whom Elijah stood. Now we remark--

I. Moments of atheism are known by most men. Who has not neared that bottomless gulf and breathed the malaria which hangs over it? But this was temporary, a passing phase, which we met and mastered. The clouds broke, the light of morning dawned. Now, which condition was the state of health? That of Atheism or Faith? In the one did we feel as she did whose sad words we have quoted; or was it in the other that we felt that soundness and sanity were come to us again? Can, then, that which acts thus healthfully be nothing but a baneful poison? The Truth which seems so essential to the soul’s health, has it no basis in reality? Is it a lie? And, if so, are lies so medicable? Who can believe it?

II. Moments of moral weakness--these, too, we all have known. But experience says that, in the very greatest emergency, let the thought of God come in, and virtue in her utmost peril is secure. Can that thought, then, be false? Or it may be duty distresses us. Failure takes the heart out of us. But the assurance, “My grace is sufficient for thee,” heartens us again. But if there be no God, this belief is a falsehood. True, we are greatly blessed by this belief in mind, in heart, in spirit, and yet, on the Atheistic creed, we owe all to a cheat. And we may ask, What is virtue when it is not fed from this root? How apt it is to degenerate into a cold calculation of profit and loss, and to have for soul Pride instead of Self-surrender. Only belief in the living God can give to it its real beauty and charm. Whence, without such belief, could come the light and warmth under whose quickening influence its blossoms open, and its fruit grows mellow? Does virtue, indeed, owe all her choicest comeliness to the arctic darkness of a lie? And what would become of duty to our fellows were faith in the living God gone? What would become of charity and all her tender ministries? who will promise her continuance in well-doing in spite of ingratitude, and scorn and persecution? Is, then, that which does preserve her and make her such a blessing due to some strange delusion only?

III. Moments of inspiration. For there are times when we are uplifted beyond ourselves, and reverence and trust and love kindle into a consuming fire. Would that such moments were oftener and more abiding. But whenever they come they are always associated with God. Are we, then, duped during these seasons of exalted enjoyment? Are we believing a lie? A harmonious life, also, such as those live “with whom abide the melodies of the everlasting chimes,” seems impossible without vigorous belief in God. The just live by faith. But what if that be false?

IV. There are moments of trial and calamity. At such times have we not been saved by trust in Him who is “a very present help in trouble”? Is this, too, a dream? Was there no heart to respond, no hand to bind up?” Nothing”--so says one” but the infinite Pity is sufficient for the infinite Pathos of human life.” But is there no such Pity? It is the age of Pessimism, and men are asking, “Is life worth living?” But who are they who ask? Not the poor, decent, hard-working, God-fearing man, but lounging cynics at West End Clubs. No, we believe in God the Father. If that be dream, let me dream. (Thomas G. Rose.)

When shall I come and appear before God?--

Appearing before God. Appearance before God here and hereafter

These words express--

I. Firm belief in the especial presence of god in the ordinances of public worship. We are always in God’s sight, but He is especially near in the sanctuary. These ordinances have this for their great end, to bring us near God. And Christians have found it so. Therefore--

1. Guard against hypocrisy in worship. God is there. We are careful how we appear there to our fellow-men. Be so in regard to God.

2. Our hope of good in worship must have the presence of God with us. Of. 2 Samuel 14:32.

3. What thanks are due to the Lord Jesus Christ who hath made way for our appearance before God.

4. What a blessing to have many houses of God in one nation.

II. An earnest longing after divine ordinances.

1. How little of this there is amongst man.

2. How well it is to have such desire.

3. What unhappy clogs these fleshly, sinful bodies are to the mind. But there is a blessed assembly of better worshippers above. Awake our faith and desire to join them. (Isaac Watts, D. D.)

Appearance before God hereafter

There are two such appearances.

I. At the judgment. At the moment of death our souls appear before God for judgment.

1. Let the sinner therefore consider that, though he may be willing to come to the sanctuary now, then it is under terrible constraint.

2. Here they appear in disguise, as saints; there openly as sinners.

3. They must take notice of God then, though they do not now.

4. There God will be on the throne of judgment; here He is on the throne of grace.

5. Here is frequent appearance, there but once, and is for ever driven from His presence. Let the sinner then examine himself as to his state now.

II. In glory in heaven. What a difference for the Christian between then and now.

1. Now he is one of a mixed assembly, then all will be holy.

2. Now he is among a few who worship God, but then amongst millions.

3. Now we worship for preparation, there for enjoyment.

4. Now, imperfectly; there, with complete worship.

5. Now, with many discouragements; then, with everlasting consolations. May we never be missing there. (Isaac Watte, D. D.)


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 42:2". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/psalms-42.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole 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.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Psalms 42:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/psalms-42.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

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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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 42:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/psalms-42.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

Thirsteth — Not after vain useless idols, but after the only true and living God.

Appear — In the place of his special presence and publick worship.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Psalms 42:2". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/psalms-42.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

The second verse illustrates more clearly what I have already said, that David does not simply speak of the presence of God, but of the presence of God in connection with certain symbols; for he sets before himself the tabernacle, the altar, the sacrifices, and other ceremonies by which God had testified that he would be near his people; and that it behoved the faithful, in seeking to approach God, to begin by those things. Not that they should continue attached to them, but that they should, by the help of these signs and outward means, seek to behold the glory of God, which of itself is hidden from the sight. Accordingly, when we see the marks of the divine presence engraven on the word, or on external symbols, we can say with David that there is the face of God, provided we come with pure hearts to seek him in a spiritual manner. But when we imagine God to be present otherwise than he has revealed himself in his word, and the sacred institutions of his worship, or when we form any gross or earthly conception of his heavenly majesty, we are only inventing for ourselves visionary representations, which disfigure the glory of God, and turn his truth into a lie.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 42:2". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/psalms-42.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Psalms 42:2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

Ver. 2. My soul thirsteth for God] More than ever it did once for the water of the well of Bethlehem; and that, because he is the living God, the fountain of living waters, that only can cool and quench my desires, Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13, so as I shall never thirst again, John 4:14, whereas of all things else we may say

Quo plus sunt potae, plus sitiuntur aquae.

The Rabbis note here, that David saith not so hungereth, but so thirsteth my soul; because men are more impatient of thirst than of hunger; they can go several days without food, but not without drink. Alexander lost a great part of his army marching through the wilderness of the Susitans by lack of water (Curt. ex Diodoro).

When shall I come and appear before God?] Heb. and see the face of God? viz. in his tabernacle. Eheu igitur quando tandem mihi miserrimo dabitur, ut te in aede tun conspiciam? These earnest pantings, inquietations, and unsatisfiable desires after God and his ordinances, are sure signs of true grace. But woe to our worship scorners, &c.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 42:2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-42.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Psalms 42:2

I. When the Psalmist says, "My soul is athirst," he certainly describes no rare or peculiar state of feeling. The thirst of the soul is as generic as the thirst of the body.

II. The Psalmist said, "My soul is athirst for God." He knew that all men in the nations round him were pursuing gods. Pleasure was a god; wealth was a god; fame was a god. What the Jew had been taught was that the Lord his God was one Lord. He was not to pursue a god of pleasure, a god of wealth, a god of fame. He was made in the image of the God. The God was not far from him. The thirst for happiness means and ends in the thirst for God.

III. The Psalmist goes on, "Even for the living God." It is no idle addition to the former words. The gods which the Israelites had been taught they were not to worship were dead gods. There is a thirst of the soul to create something in its own likeness, but the first and deepest thirst is to find in what likeness it is itself created, whence all its living powers are derived, who has fixed their ends, who can direct them to their ends.

IV. Finally, the Psalmist says, "When shall I come and appear before God?" A bold petition! Ought he not rather to have prayed, "O God, prepare me for the day when I must appear before Thee"? This is the modification which we who live under the New Testament generally give to words which those who lived before the incarnation and epiphany of Jesus Christ could utter in simple fulness. What they held was that God prepared them for His appearing by teaching them to hope for it. If they did not expect it, did not hope for it, they would be startled and confounded by it; if they did, every step in their history, every struggle, every joy, was an education for it.

F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. iii., p. 129.


This verse expresses the attitude and mission of the Christian Church. The attitude. For what are the struggles of Christian souls except, in the midst of a world that is quite complicated with difficulties, in the midst of a world that is overwhelmed with sorrow, in the midst of a time of severe temptation, to constantly rise and gaze high above the thought of evil, and gaze towards the sun of brightness, and cry for God? And what is the mission of the Christian Church? Is it not to help men and women in their struggle and their sorrow to forget, at least at times, their pettinesses and degradation, to rise to better standards and loftier ideals, and to cry for God?

I. In such a verse as this we are face to face with one of those great governed contrasts that are found throughout Scripture and throughout human life. There are at least four forms of attraction which are presented to our souls. There is (1) the attraction of natural beauty; (2) the attraction of activity; (3) the attraction of the intellect; (4) the attraction of the affections. There are many things given; there are many attractions to draw: they will stimulate; they will help; they will console; they will give pleasure: there is one thing that satisfies the immortal; there is one life that meets your need. "My soul is athirst for God." There is something deeper in man than his aesthetic desire or his active practice, something deeper beneath us all than anything that finds expression, certainly than anything that finds satisfaction. You yourself, the foundation of your life, must be satisfied; and being infinite and immortal, you can know but one satisfaction.

II. What is meant by the thirst for God? (1) It means thirsting for and desiring moral truth. The thirst for God means the thirst within us to fulfil His moral law. (2) The thirst of the soul for God is the thirst to love goodness because it is right.

III. It is our privilege, beyond the privilege of the Psalmist, to know in the Gospel, to know in the Church, Christ, God expressed in humanity. Is your soul athirst for the Highest? You may find it if you come in repentance, if you come in desire, if you come in quiet determination to do your duty—you may find it satisfied in Christ.

J. Knox-Little, Anglican Pulpit of To-Day, p. 267 (see also Manchester Sermons, p. 193).


I. Let us learn from these words a great law of our being. God made us that He might love us. God has given us the capacity of loving Himself, and He has made it a law of our being that we must love Him if we are ever to be happy, that there is no happiness for us but in fulfilling that law of our being which requires us to love the living God.

II. Again, we learn when we look at the text and think of the longing that filled the heart of the Psalmist how wonderfully little our lives and our hearts correspond to this purpose of God's love. How little of this longing there is in our hearts, this thirst for God, the living God; and all the while God, looking down upon us in His infinite mercy, is longing for our hearts, the hearts of His children. We may say it with reverence that the heart of God is athirst for our love, and longs that our hearts should be athirst for Him.

III. This expression of the Psalmist may be the expression of a soul that has known what it is to love God and to enjoy God's love, who is mourning under the hidings of God's countenance, the sunshine of whose love has been clouded, who is walking in darkness and having no light. Never did a soul thirst for God, cry out for God, the living God, but God sooner or later, in His own good time, filled that soul with all His fulness, flooded that soul with all the sunshine of His love. It is for the Holy Spirit's help that we must pray; it is on His help we must lean; it is He from whom we must ask the power to thirst for God, the living God.

Bishop Maclagan, Penny Pulpit, No. 731.

Taken in their original sense, the words of our text apply only to that strange phenomenon which we call religious depression. But I have ventured to take them in a wider sense than that. It is not only Christian men who are cast down, whose souls "thirst for God." All men, everywhere, may take this text for theirs.

I. There is in every man an unconscious and unsatisfied longing after God, and that is the state of nature. Experience is the test of that principle. (1) We are not independent. None of us can stand by himself. No man carries within him the fountain from which he can draw. (2) We are made to need, not things, but living persons. Hearts want hearts. A living man must have a living God, or his soul will perish in the midst of earthly plenty, and will thirst and die whilst the water of earthly delights is running all around him. (3) We need one Being who shall be all-sufficient. If a man is to be blessed, he must have one source where he can go. The merchantman that seeks for many goodly pearls may find the many, but until he has bartered them all for the one there is something lacking.

II. There is a conscious longing, imperfect, though fully supplied; and that is the state of grace, the beginning of religion in a man's soul. There can be no deeper truth than this—God is a faithful Creator; and where He makes men with longings, it is a prophecy that these longings are going to be supplied. "He knoweth our frame," and He remembereth what He has implanted within us. The perfecting of your character may be got in the Lamb of God, and without Him it can never be possessed. Christ is everything, and "out of His fulness all we receive grace for grace." Not only in Christ is there the perfect supply of all these necessities, but also the fulness becomes ours on the simple condition of desiring it. In the Divine region the principle of the giving is this—to desire is to have; to long is to possess.

III. Lastly, there is a perfect longing perfectly satisfied; and that is heaven. We shall not then be independent, of course, of constant supplies from the great central fulness, any more than we are here. Thirst as longing is eternal; thirst as aspiration after God is the glory of heaven; thirst as desire for more of Him is the very condition of the celestial world, and the element of all its blessedness.

A. Maclaren, Sermons Preached in Manchester, 1863, p. 135.


References: Psalms 42:2.—S. Macnaughton, Real Religion and Real Life, p. 13; T. G. Rose, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxiii., p. 261; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 36.


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Bibliography
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Psalms 42:2". "Sermon Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/psalms-42.html.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

Psalms

THIRSTING FOR GOD

Psalms 42:2.

This whole psalm reads like the sob of a wounded heart. The writer of it is shut out from the Temple of his God, from the holy soil of his native land. One can see him sitting solitary yonder in the lonely wilderness {for the geographical details that occur in one part of the psalm point to his situation as being on the other side of the Jordan, in the mountains of Moab}-can see him sitting there with long wistful gaze yearning across the narrow valley and the rushing stream that lay between him and the land of God’s chosen people, and his eye resting perhaps on the mountaintop that looked down upon Jerusalem. He felt shut out from the presence of God. We need not suppose that he believed all the rest of the world to be profane and God-forsaken, except only the Temple. Nor need we wonder, on the other hand, that his faith did cling to form, and that he thought the sparrows beneath the eaves of the Temple blessed birds! He was depressed, because he was shut out from the tokens of God’s presence; and because he was depressed, he shut himself out from the reality of the presence. And so he cried with a cry which never is in vain, ‘My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God!’ Taken, then, in its original sense, the words of our text apply only to that strange phenomenon which we call religious depression. But I have ventured to take them in a wider sense than that. It is not only Christian men who are cast down, whose souls ‘thirst for God.’ It is not only men upon earth whose souls thirst for God. All men, everywhere, may take this text for theirs. Every human heart may breathe it out, if it understands itself. The longing for ‘the living God’ belongs to all men. Thwarted, stifled, it still survives. Unconscious, it is our deepest misery. Recognised, yielded to, accepted, it is the foundation of our highest blessings. Filled to the full, it still survives unsatiated and expectant. For all men upon earth, Christian or not Christian, for Christians here below, whether in times of depression or in times of gladness, and for the blessed and calm spirits that in ecstasy of longing, full of fruition, stand around God’s throne-it is equally true that their souls ‘thirst for God, for the living God.’ Only with this difference, that to some the desire is misery and death, and to some the desire is life and perfect blessedness. So that the first thought I would suggest to you now is, that there is an unconscious and unsatisfied longing after God, which is what we call the state of nature; secondly, that there is an imperfect longing after God, fully satisfied, which is what we call the state of grace; and lastly, that there is a perfect longing, perfectly satisfied, which is what we call the state of glory. Nature; religion upon earth; blessedness in heaven-my text is the expression, in divers senses, of them all.

I. In the first place, then, there is in every man an unconscious and unsatisfied longing after God, and that is the state of nature.

Experience is the test of that assertion. And the most superficial examination of the facts of daily life, as well as the questioning of our own souls, will tell us that this is the leading feature of them-a state of unrest. What is it that one of those deistic poets of our own land says, about ‘Man never is, but always to be blest’? What is the meaning of the fact that all round about us, and we partaking of it, there is ceaseless, gigantic activity going on? The very fact that men work, the very fact of activity in the mind and life, noble as it is, and root of all that is good, and beautiful as it is, is still the testimony of nature to this fact that I by myself am full of passionate longings, of earnest desires, of unsupplied wants. ‘I thirst,’ is the voice of the whole world.

No man is made to be satisfied from himself. For the stilling of our own hearts, for the satisfying of our own nature, for the strengthening and joy of our being, we need to go beyond ourselves, and to fix upon something external to ourselves. We are not independent. None of us can stand by himself. No man carries within him the fountain from which he can draw. If a heart is to be blessed, it must go out of the narrow circle of its own individuality; and if a man’s life is to be strong and happy, he must get the foundation of his strength somewhere else than in his own soul. And, my friends! especially you young men, all that modern doctrine of self-reliance, though it has a true side to it, has also a frightfully false side. Though it may he quite true that a man ought to be, in one sense, sufficient for himself, and that there is no real blessedness of which the root does not lie within the nature and heart of the man; though all that be quite true, yet, if the doctrine means {as on the lips of many a modern eloquent and powerful teacher of it, it does mean} that we can do without God, that we may be self-reliant and self-sufficient, and proudly neglectful of all the divine forces that come down into life to brighten and gladden it, it is a lie, false and fatal; and of all the falsehoods that are going about this world at present, I know not one that is varnished over with more apparent truth, that is smeared over with more of the honey that catches young, ardent, ingenuous hearts, than that half-truth, and therefore most deceptive error, which preaches independence, and self-reliance, and which means-a man’s soul does not ‘thirst for the living God.’ Take care of it! We are made not to be independent.

We are made, next, to need, not things, but living beings. ‘My soul thirsteth’-for what? An abstraction, a possession, riches, a thing? No! ‘my soul thirsteth for God, for the living God.’ Yes, hearts want hearts. The converse of Christ’s saying is equally true; He said, ‘God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit’; man has a spirit, and man must have Spirit to worship, to lean upon, to live by, or all will be inefficient and unsatisfactory. Oh, lay this to heart, my brother!-no things can satisfy a living soul. No accumulation of dead matter can become the life of an immortal being. The two classes are separated by the whole diameter of the universe-matter and spirit, thing and person; and you cannot feed yourself upon the dead husks that lie there round about you-wealth, position, honour. Books, thoughts, though they are nobler than these other, are still inefficient. Principles, ‘causes,’ emotions springing from truth, these are not enough. I want more than that, I want something to love, something to lay a hand upon, that shall return the grasp of the hand. A living man must have a living God, or his soul will perish in the midst of earthly plenty, and will thirst and die whilst the water of earthly delights is running all around him. We are made to need persons, not things.

Then again, we need one Being who shall be all-sufficient. There is no greater misery than that which may ensue from the attempt to satisfy our souls by the accumulation of objects, each of them imperfect and finite, which yet we fancy, woven together, will make an adequate whole. When a heart is diverted from its one central purpose, when a life is split up in a hundred different directions and into a hundred different emotions, it is like a beam of light passed through some broken surface where it is all refracted and shivered into fragments; there is no clear vision, there is no perfect light. If a man is to be blessed, he must have one source to which he can go. The merchantman that seeks for many goodly pearls, may find the many; but until he has bartered them all for the one, there is something lacking. Not only does the understanding require to pass through the manifold, up and up in ever higher generalisations, till it reaches the One from whom all things come; but the heart requires to soar, if it would be at rest, through all the diverse regions where its love may legitimately tarry for a while, until it reaches the sole and central throne of the universe, and there it may cease its flight, and fold its weary wings, and sleep like a bird within its nest. We want a Being, and we want one Being in whom shall be sphered all perfection, in whom shall abide all power and blessedness; beyond whom thought cannot pass, out of whose infinite circumference love does not need to wander; besides whose boundless treasures no other riches can be required; who is light for the understanding, power for the will, authority for the practical life, purpose for the efforts, motive for the doings, end and object for the feelings, home of the affections, light of our seeing, life of our life, the love of our heart, the one living God, infinite in wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth; who is all in all, and without whom everything else is misery. ‘My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God.’

Brother! let me ask you the question, before I pass on-the question for the sake of which I am preaching this sermon: Do you know that Father? I know this much, that every heart here now answers an ‘Amen’ {if it will be honest} to what I have been saying. Unrest; panting, desperate thirst, deceiving itself as to where it should go; slaking itself ‘at the gilded puddles that the beasts would cough at,’ instead of coming to the water of life!-that is the state of man without God. That is nature. That is irreligion. The condition in which every man is that is not trusting in Jesus Christ, is this-thirsting for God, and not knowing whom he is thirsting for, and so not getting the supply that he wants.

II. There is a conscious longing, imperfect, but answered; and that is the state of grace-the beginning of religion in a man’s soul.

If it be true that there are, as part of the universal human experience, however overlaid and stifled, these necessities of which I have been speaking, the very existence of the necessities affords a presumption, before all evidence, that, somehow and somewhere, they shall be supplied. There can be no deeper truth-none, I think, that ought to have more power in shaping some parts of our Christian creed, than this, that God is a faithful Creator; and where He makes men with longings, it is a prophecy that those longings are going to be supplied. The same ground which avails to defend doctrines that cannot be so well defended by any other argument-the same ground on which we say that there is an immortality, because men long for it and believe in it; that there is a God because men cannot get rid of the instinctive conviction that there is; that there is a retribution, because men’s consciences do ask for it, and cry out for it-the very same process which may be applied to the buttressing and defending of all the grandest truths of the Gospel, applies also in this practical matter. If I, made by God who knew what He was doing when He made me, am formed with these deep necessities, with these passionate longings-then it cannot but be that it is intended that they should be to me a means of leading me to Him, and that there they should be satisfied. For He is ‘the faithful Creator,’ and He remembers the conditions under which His making of us has placed us. ‘He knoweth our frame,’ and He remembereth what He has implanted within us. And the presumption is, of course, turned into an actual certainty when we let in the light of the Gospel upon the thing. Then we can say to every man that thus is yearning after a goodness dimly perceived, and does not know what it is that he wants, and we say to you now, Brother! betake yourself to the cross of Christ go with those wants of yours to ‘the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world’: He will interpret them to you. He will explain to you, as you do not now know, what they mean; and, better than that, He will supply them all. Your souls are thirsting; and you look about, here and there, and everywhere, for springs of water. There is the fountain-go to Christ. Your souls are thirsting for God. The unfathomed ocean of the Godhead lies far beyond my lip; but here is the channel through which there flows that river of water of life. Here is the manifested God, here is the granted God, here is the Godhead coming into connection and union with man, his wants and his sins-the ‘living God’ and His living Son, His everlasting Word. ‘He that believeth upon Him shall never hunger, and he that cometh unto Him shall never thirst.’ God is the divine and unfathomable ocean; Christ the Son is the stream that brings salvation to every man’s lips. All wants are supplied there. Take it as a piece of the simplest prose, with no rhetorical exaggeration about it, that Christ is everything, everything that a man can want. We are made to require, and to be restless until we possess, perfect truth-there it is! We are made to want, and to be restless until we get, perfect, infinite unchangeable love-there it is! We must have, or the burden of our own self-will will be a misery to us, a hand laid upon the springs of our conduct, authoritative and purifying, and have the blessedness of some voice to say to us, ‘I bid thee, and that is enough’-there it is! We must have rest, purity, hope, gladness, life in our souls-there they all are! Whatever form of human nature and character be yours, my brother!-whatever exigencies of life you may be lying under the pressure of-man or woman, adult or child, father or son, man of business or man of thought, struggling with difficulties or bright with joy-Oh! believe us, the perfecting of your character may be got in the Lamb of God, and without Him it never can be possessed. Christ is everything, and ‘out of His fulness all we receive grace for grace.’

Not only in Christ is there the perfect supply of all these necessities, but also that fulness becomes ours on the simple condition of desiring it. The thirst for the living God in a man who has faith in Christ Jesus, is not a thirst which amounts to pain, or arises from a sense of non-possession. But in this divine region the principle of the giving is this-to desire is to have; to long for is to possess. There is no wide interval between the sense of thirst and the trickling of the stream over the parched lip; but ever it is flowing, flowing past us, and the desire is but the opening of the lips to receive the limpid and life-giving waters. No one ever desired the grace of God, really and truly desired it; but just in proportion as he desired it, he got it-just in proportion as he thirsted, he was satisfied. Therefore we have to preach that grand gospel that faith, simple, conscious longing, turned to Christ, avails to bring down the full and perfect supply.

But some Christian people here may reply, ‘Ah! I wish it were so: what was that you were saying at the beginning of your sermon, about men having religious depression, about Christians longing and not possessing?’ Well, I have only this to say about that matter. Wherever in a heart that really believes on God in Christ, there is a thirst that amounts to pain, and that has with it a sense of non-possession, that is not because Christ’s fulness has become shrunken; that is not because there is a change in God’s law, that the measure of the desire is the measure of the reception; but it is only because, for some reason or other that belongs to the man alone, the desire is not deep, genuine, simple, but is troubled and darkened. What we ask, we get. If I am a Christian, however feeble I may be, the feebleness of my faith and the feebleness of my desire may make my supplies of grace feeble; but if I am a Christian, there is no such thing as an earnest longing unsatisfied, no such thing as a thirst accompanied with a pain and sense of want, except in consequence of my own transgression.

And thus there is a longing imperfect in this life, but fully supplied according to the measure of its intensity, a longing after ‘the living God’; and that is the state of a Christian man. And O my friend! that is a widely different desire from the other that I have been speaking about. It is blessed thus to say, ‘My soul thirsteth for God.’ It is blessed to feel the passionate wish for more light, more grace, more peace, more wisdom, more of God. That is joy, that is peace! Is that your experience in this present life?

III. Lastly, there is a perfect longing perfectly satisfied; and that is heaven.

We shall not there be independent, of course, of constant supplies from the great central Fulness, any more than we are here. One may see in one aspect, that just as the Christian life here on earth is in a very true sense a state of never thirsting any more, because we have Christ, and yet in another sense is a state of continual longing and desire-so the Christian and glorified life in heaven, in one view of it, is the removal of all that thirst which marked the condition of man upon earth, and in another is the perfecting of all those aspirations and desires. Thirst, as longing, is eternal; thirst, as aspiration after God, is the glory of heaven; thirst, as desire for more of Him, is the very condition of the celestial world, and the element of all its blessedness.

That future life gives us two elements, an infinite God, and an indefinitely expansible human spirit: an infinite God to fill, and a soul to be filled, the measure and the capacity of which has no limit set to it that we can see. What will be the consequence of the contact of these two? Why this, for the first thing, that always, at every moment of that blessed life, there shall be a perpetual fruition, a perpetual satisfaction, a deep and full fountain filling the whole soul with the refreshment of its waves and the music of its flow. And yet, and yet-though at every moment in heaven we shall be satisfied, filled full of God, full to overflowing in all our powers-yet the very fact that the God who dwells in us, and fills our whole natures with unsullied and perfect blessedness, is an infinite God; and that we in whom the infinite Father dwells, are men with souls that can grow, and can grow for ever-will result in this, that at every moment our capacities will expand; that at every moment, therefore, the desire will grow and spring afresh; that at every moment God will be seen unveiling undreamed-of beauties, and revealing hitherto unknown heights of blessedness before us; and that the sight of that transcendent, unapproached, unapproachable, and yet attracting and transforming glory, will draw us onward as by an impulse from above, and the possession of some portion of it will bear us upward as by a power from within; and so, nearer, nearer, ever nearer to the throne of light, the centre of blessedness, the growing, and glorifying, and greatening souls of the perfectly and increasingly blessed shall ‘mount up with wings as eagles.’ Heaven is endless longing, accompanied with an endless fruition-a longing which is blessedness, a longing which is life!

My brother! let me put two sayings of Scripture side by side, ‘My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God,’-’Father Abraham! send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.’ There be two thirsts, one, the longing for God, which, satisfied, is heaven; one, the longing for quenching of self-lit fires, and for one drop of the lost delights of earth to cool the thirsty throat, which, unsatisfied, is hell. Then hearken to the final vision on the page of Scripture, ‘He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.’ To us it is showed, and to us the whole revelation of God converges to that last mighty call, ‘Let him that is athirst come, and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely!’


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Bibliography
MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Psalms 42:2". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/psalms-42.html.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Thirst is more vehement than hunger, and more impatient of dissatisfaction.

For the living God: this he mentions as a just cause of his thirst. He did not thirst after vain, useless idols, but after the only true and living God, who was

his life, and the length of his days, as is said, Deuteronomy 30:20, and without whose presence and favour David accounted himself for a dead and lost man, Psalms 143:7.

Appear before God; in the place of his special presence and public worship. See Exodus 23:15 25:30. What is called before the Lord, 1 Chronicles 13:10, is before or with the ark, 2 Samuel 6:7.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 42:2". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/psalms-42.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

2. Thirsteth for God… the living God—Not for any gift or benefit out of God, but God himself; personal communion with him could alone meet his longing, languishing desire. Here was the source of all his greatness and prosperity as a king, or joy and delight as a human soul, and hence his first want. These expressions of longing after God have nothing to excel them for spirituality and intensity in holy Scripture.

Appear before God—The sanctuary worship is here intended, as containing the most lively symbols of God, and the nearest visible approach to him.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 42:2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/psalms-42.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Me. Without thy assistance, I can do nothing. My enemies seem too strong, while thou appearest to disregard my prayer. (Worthington)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Psalms 42:2". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/psalms-42.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

GOD. Hebrew El. App-4. Because "the living", in contrast with idols.

When shall I come, &c. Figures of speech Interjectio, Erotesis, and Apostrophe. App-6.

appear before God = see the face of God. So it is in some codices, with one early printed edition, Aramaean, and Syriac. See notes on Exodus 23:15; Exodus 34:20.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Psalms 42:2". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/psalms-42.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God. It is not a mere dead idol I thirst for, but the God who has life in Himself, and imparts life to His people (Psalms 42:8), "the God of my life."

When shall I come. To be separated from such a God, even for a time, seems the height of misery. Oh when shall this terrible separation come to an end?

And appear before God? - namely, in His sanctuary (cf. Psalms 42:4; Psalms 43:3-4); literally, 'appear before the faces of God:' the regular phrase (Exodus 23:15; Exodus 23:17; Exodus 34:24; Deuteronomy 31:11). There is included in this the idea of restoration to God's favour, from the manifestation of which he had been excluded during his exile. Compare Psalms 41:12, "Thou ... settest me before thy face for ever;" Genesis 4:14; Genesis 4:16, "Cain went out from the presence of the Lord" (perhaps the cherubim at the east of Eden, the symbol of God's presence).


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 42:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-42.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(2) Thirsteth.—The metaphor occurs exactly in the same form (Psalms 63:1), and only calls for notice since “God” Himself is here made the subject of the thirst, instead of righteousness, or knowledge, or power, as in the familiar and frequent use of the metaphor in other parts of the Bible, and in other literature.

The living God.—Evidently, from the metaphor, regarded as the fountain or source of life. (Comp. Psalms 84:2; Psalms 36:9.)

Appear before God.—Exodus 23:17 shows that this was the usual phrase for frequenting the sanctuary (comp. Psalms 84:7), though poetic brevity here slightly altered its form and construction.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 42:2". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/psalms-42.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?
thirsteth
36:8,9; 63:1; John 7:37; Revelation 22:1
living
Job 23:3; Jeremiah 2:13; 10:10; John 5:26; 1 Thessalonians 1:9
when
27:4; 84:4,10

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Psalms 42:2". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/psalms-42.html.

Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible

Psalm 42:2

"My soul thirsts for God, for the living God." Psalm 42:2

Has your heart ever panted after the Lord Jesus as the deer pants after the water brooks? Do you ever lie in the dust mourning over your sins against the bleeding, dying love of Jesus? Do you ever ask God to kindle in your soul an intense desire to have Jesus as your Christ, that he may be your delight here and your portion forever? Surely there is that in him which is not in anything below the skies, and which if not found here will not be found hereafter. If you have no love or affection for him, why is it but because he has not endeared himself to your soul? But if he has manifested himself to you, you have seen and felt enough of his blessedness to convince you that there is no real peace or happiness out of him.

It is true that you may have many trials and temptations to encounter; many perplexities and sorrows may be spread in your path; but be not dismayed, for the love of Christ, if you have ever felt that love shed abroad in your heart, will bear you more than conqueror through them all. The Lord make and keep us faithful to the truth as it has been made known to our consciences; and may the goodness and mercy of God shine into our hearts and shed abroad its rays of light and joy in our darkest moments and under our severest trials. And O to be found in him at the great day, as members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones, to be found the Lord"s "peculiar treasure" in that day when he makes up his jewels! And O then, where will be those who are not found in the Lord Jesus? They will call upon the mountains and the rocks to "fall on them and hide them from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb."


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Bibliography
Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 42:2". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jcp/psalms-42.html.

Ver. 2. My soul thirsts after God, after the living God. When shall I come and appear before God's face? The addition: after the living God, draws attention to what the Psalmist had lost in this God, and indicates the ground of his fervent desire and his painful longing after him. His God is not a phantom, which, itself dead, is also incapable of imparting life; he is the living, and consequently the life giving; comp. the corresponding phrase, "The God of my life," in Psalms 42:8, rich in salvation for his people. The question: When, etc. q. d. when at length, O si rumpatur mora, etc., even the short period of separation from such a God, extending, in his apprehension, to eternity. That in the appearing before God's face we must think primarily of a re-opened access to the sanctuary, not of a purely internal access, is evident from the words; when shall I come, also from the comparison of Psalms 42:4 with Psalms 43:3-4, and, finally, from the usage, according to which the expression: to appear before the face of the Lord, is regularly employed of the appearance before God in his sanctuary. But according to what has been remarked, the opening of the approach into the sanctuary is to be regarded as the actual manifestation of God's restored favour, and so the question: when shall I appear before the face of God, incloses in itself also this: when shall I behold the countenance of God? Psalms 17:15, when wilt thou place me before thy countenance? Psalms 41:12, q. d. when shall I enjoy again thy favour? To appear before God's presence is elsewhere נראה אל פני יהוה, Exodus 23:17, but here the proposition fails, as in Deuteronomy 31:11, Isaiah 1:12, Exodus 23:15. Several have found such difficulty in this, that they would substitute the kal for the niphal, אֶרְאֶה, Luther: that I may behold God's face. But the construction is either to be explained by this, that the appearing here has the nature of a verb of motion, or by this, that פני here takes the character of a particle, in presence of, for which latter exposition only Deuteronomy 31:11 occasions difficulty.


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Bibliography
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 42:2". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/psalms-42.html.

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