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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 42:6



O my God, my soul is in despair within me; Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.

Adam Clarke Commentary

O my God, my soul is cast down - It is impossible for me to lighten this load; I am full of discouragements, notwithstanding I labor to hope in thee.

Therefore untill I remember thee from the land of Jordan - That is, from Judea, this being the chief river of that country.

And of the Hermonites - הרמונים the Hermons, used in the plural because Hermon has a double ridge joining in an angle, and rising in many summits. The river Jordan, and the mountains of Hermon, were the most striking features of the holy land.

From the hill Mizar - מצער מהר mehar mitsar, from the little hill, as in the margin. The little hill probably means Sion, which was little in comparison of the Hermons - Bishop Horsley. No such hill as Mizar is known in India.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

O my God, my soul is cast down within me - This is the utterance of a soul in anguish, notwithstanding the purpose not to be cast down, and the conviction that hope ought to be cherished. The psalmist cannot but say that, despite all this, he is sad. His troubles come rushing over his soul; they all return at once; his heart is oppressed, and he is constrained to confess that, notwithstanding his solemn purpose not to be sad, and the conviction that he ought to be cheerful, and his wish to be and to appear so, yet his sorrows get the mastery over all this, and his heart is filled with grief. What sufferer has not felt thus? When he really wished to trust in God; when he hoped that things would be better; when he saw that he ought to be calm and cheerful, his sorrows have returned like a flood, sweeping all these feelings away for the time, filling his soul with anguish, compelling him to form these resolutions anew, and driving him afresh to the throne of grace, to beat back the returning tide of grief, and to bring the soul to calmness and peace.

Therefore will I remember thee - I will look to thee; I will come to thee; I will recall thy former merciful visitations. In this lone land; far away from the place of worship; in the midst of these privations, troubles, and sorrows; surrounded as I am by taunting foes, and having no source of consolation here, I will remember my God. Even here, amidst these sorrows, I will lift up my heart in grateful remembrance of him, and will think of him alone. The words which follow are designed merely to give an idea of the desolation and sadness of his condition, and of the fact of his exile.

From the land of Jordan - Referring probably to the fact he was then in that “land.” The phrase would denote the region adjacent to the Jordan, and through which the Jordan flowed, as we speak of “the valley of the Mississippi,” that is the region through which that river flows. The lands adjacent to the Jordan on either side were covered with underbrush and thickets, and were, in former times, the favorite resorts of wild animals: Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44. The psalmist was on the eastern side of the Jordan.

And of the Hermonites - The land of the Hermonites. The region in which Mount Hermon is situated. This was on the northeast of Palestine, beyond the Jordan. Mount Hermon was a ridge or spur of Antilibanus: Joshua 11:3, Joshua 11:17. This spur or ridge lies near the sources of the Jordan. It consists of several summits, and is therefore spoken of here in the plural number, Hermonim, the Hebrew plural of Hermon. These mountains were called by the Sidonians, Sirion. See the notes at Psalm 29:6. Different names were given to different parts of these sum mits of the mountain-ranges. The principal summit, or Mount Hermon properly so called, rises to the height of ten or twelve thousand feet, and is covered with perpetual snow; or rather, as Dr. Robinson says (Biblical Researches, iii. 344), the snow is perpetual in the ravines; so that the top presents the appearance of radiant stripes around and below the summit. The word is used here with reference to the mountain-region to which the general name of Hermon was given on the northeast of Palestine, and on the east of the sources of the Jordan. It would seem not improbable that after passing the Jordan the psalmist had gone in that direction in his exile.

From the hill Mizar - Margin, the little hill. So the Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate, and Luther. DeWette renders it as a proper name. The word Mizar, or Mitsar (Hebrew), means properly smallness; and thus, anything small or little. The word seems here, however, to be used as a proper name, and was probably applied to some part of that mountain-range, though to what particular portion is now unknown. This would seem to have been the place where the psalmist took up his abode in his exile. As no such name is now known to be given to any part of that mountain-range, it is impossible to identify the spot. It would seem from the following verse, however, that it was not far from the Jordan.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Psalms 42:6

O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan.

Soul sorrows and soul reliefs

I. Soul sorrows.

1. Oppressive. “O my God, my soul is cast down within me.” They seemed to rest upon his heart as lead. Beneath their weight he sank down into darkness and despair. How often the soul falls prostrate beneath its load of grief and trials.

2. Tumultuous. “Deep calleth unto deep.” “Trials,” says our dramatist, “come in battalions.” In the hour of deep conviction for sin, there comes a moral inundation.

3. Excruciating. “As with a sword,” etc. As the physical nerves quiver with agony at the entrance of the sword, so his soul writhed at the reproaches of ungodly men.

II. Soul reliefs.

1. Memory.

2. Hope.

3. Prayer.

4. Self-fellowship. “David,” says Calvin, “represents himself here as divided into two parts. In so far as he rests through faith in God’s promises, he raises himself, equipped with the spirit of an invincible valour against the feelings of the flesh, and at the same time blames his weakness.” David here--

God is the “health of my countenance.” He will clear away all the gloom, and make it bright with the sunshine of His love. (Homilist.)

My soul is cast down within me

There are times when the soul is cast down within us like David’s. Strength, courage, hope, are dead. We lose the very sense of freedom, and are as a wreck, borne to and fro helpless on the currents, to be dashed at last on some inhospitable shore. There are inward movements of the spirit, known only to God, which bring us to the same prostration. However it may have been reached, no man of deep human experience is ignorant of David’s meaning in our text.

I. Forgetting God is man’s natural instinct when his soul is cast down within him. Despair is reckless, and deep misery tends strongly to despair. Job’s state of mind, as described in Job 3:1-26., was anything but gracious. He was so unutterably wretched that he cursed his very existence. And this is the peril of souls when east down. They think no one cares for them. I am but a waif on the great moaning ocean; it may drift me as it pleases, and cast me when it has done with me to rot forgotten on the shore. This is the language of many a natural heart in its hour of anguish; and on a broader scale, times of great social or national misery are constantly found to be times of wild, fierce recklessness of truth, honour, dignity, charity, and God.

II. Consider the reason, nature, and fruit of David’s remembrance of God when his “soul was cast down within him.”

1. The reason. I will remember Thee, for I am not my own, but Thine. I am bound to measure myself by the measure of Thy love. What does the Incarnation mean, but that God claims us by a right, and holds us by a bond of infinite strength? Nothing worth in ourselves, in Christ we are precious in His sight.

2. The nature of the remembrance. That the Lord was his portion, of which neither earth nor hell could rob him. God was left if all else was lost. And God was his “rock,” enduring, unchangeable. And God was the health of his countenance, the spring of his everlasting joy.

3. The fruit of his remembrance of God in the depths--perfect peace. (J. Baldwin Brown, B. A.)

Help in God

I. As appropriation. “O my God.” In proportion as you feel your need of anything, and value it, you are anxious to make it your own.

II. The confession. “O my God, my soul is cast down within me.” “Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.” Observe, here, the speaker himself. David, a great man who had even reached the throne, is the man who says, “My soul is cast down.” Do you imagine that the head never aches that wears a crown? Or that you are more likely to escape the winds and storms by building your house high on the side of the hill? A Christian merchant, some years ago, who had retired from business, and employed his substance in the cause of God, lately said to me, “I have found my troubles increase in life precisely in proportion to the number of my servants, and the growth of my property.” Paul says, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed.” This is well. It is not the water without a vessel, if it were as large as the Atlantic, that would sink it; but the water that gets in. While the mind is calm, peaceful, and heavenly, outward distresses are of little importance. But when all is dark without, and gloomy within too, then is he tried. “A man’s spirit may sustain his infirmities, but a wounded spirit who can bear?”--and we may add, who can cure?

III. His resolution. “Therefore I will remember Thee.” At, this is not a natural resolution: we are naturally alienated from the life of God. He destroys every drop of water in our vessels, in order that we may be compelled either to perish of thirst, or to inquire after Him, the fountain of living water. And it is well if we remember Him, and ask, “Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night?” Thus it was with Manasseh: in his affliction he sought the Lord God of his fathers, and He was found of him. It was thus with the prodigal, in the parable; when he began to be in want, he said, “I will arise and go to my father.” How many have done this since!

IV. A specification. “I will remember thee from the land of Jordan,” etc. Are there not spots toward which you can look, where God perhaps freed your mind from a grievous snare and temptation, and made you free indeed--where perhaps God commanded a wonderful deliverance for you--where He turned the valley of death into the morning--where at evening-tide it was made light. These Mizars, these little hills, are worth their weight in gold. (W. Jay.)

The remembrance of God the result of mental depression

I. Devout confidence. “O my God.”

1. Mine by natural right (Job 10:8; Psalms 119:73; Psalms 139:13; Zechariah 12:1; Hebrews 12:9).

2. Mine by personal preference (Psalms 63:1-8; Psalms 72:25).

3. Mine by adopting love (Jeremiah 3:19; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6).

4. Mine by Divine appropriation.

5. Mine by public avowal (Isaiah 44:5).

II. Mental depression. This may result--

1. From bodily infirmities (Isaiah 38:14-15).

2. From backsliding of heart. Defects in love, zeal, diligence.

3. From inward conflicts.

4. From afflictive bereavements.

5. From the state of mankind (Psalms 119:58; Psalms 119:136; Psalms 119:158; Philippians 3:18).

III. A Pious remembrance of God.

1. Wherever we go, God should be in our recollection. His actual presence; His continual agency; what He is in Himself and to His people.

2. The remembrance of God is the most effectual antidote against mental depression (2 Corinthians 4:17; Hebrews 12:11).

The text may serve to remind us, by way of inference--

1. That man is born to trouble. The best of men may be disquieted and depressed: “without are fightings, and within are fears.”

2. That pious people are accustomed to pour out their complaints to God.

3. That men who have no interest in God have no refuge in the hour of trouble; for vain is the help of man. (Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)

Religious melancholy

1. The first case is of those who are apt to think that the reformation of their lives hath not proceeded from a sincere love of God, and an unwillingness to displease Him; but from a mere dread of those punishments which He hath threatened.

2. Some serious Christians complain of a want of inclination to holy things, and a coldness in their devotions. They do not come to God’s house, nor address themselves to their prayers, with such an appetite as they do to the business of the world; but want earliest and fervent desires for the success of the petitions. Now, in abatement of their trouble, give me leave to lay the following observations before them.

3. I come to the case of those unhappy persons who have naughty and sometimes blasphemous thoughts start in their minds while they are exercised in the worship of God, and to fear that God hath utterly cast them off. That their case is not so dangerous as they apprehend it, I shall endeavour to show by the following considerations.

Advice for behaviour under these perplexing disorders of mind, and for recovery from them.

Depression of spirits in Christians

I. The causes.

1. In many cases melancholy proceeds from bodily weakness.

2. Another cause is a habit which some have of judging themselves, not from the Word of God, but from the words of men.

3. They who seek God and endeavour to serve Him, in some instances, form too high expectations of assurance and of comfort. They expect clearer revelations of Divine things; brighter evidence of their justification, and greater joy in the Holy Ghost, than is promised them in this present world.

4. Another cause of discouragement, or deep concern in Christians who have been for some time disciples, is the advancement they have made in spiritual knowledge. Every succeeding year they appear to themselves more sinful and less worthy than in years past. They think more, also, of what is at stake, and what it is to lose their souls.

5. There is also a plain distinction between the doubting of unbelief and the doubting which is through infirmity; as there is also between the sins of infidels and of weak believers.

II. Them use. They are profitable--

1. For the trial of your faith. “The Lord would have those who walk in the light never forget what it is to sit in darkness and the shadow of death. A grieved spirit is the best foundation of a faithful heart.”

2. These desponding apprehensions are a powerful remedy for self-righteousness and spiritual pride.

3. By this depression of spirits, to which good men are subject, you are taught how little confidence can be placed in your religious feelings, or the mere state of your passions. In a spiritual sense it is sometimes “better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting.”

III. What is the remedy for this dejection? Do as the psalmist did; put your trust in God. How far religious sorrow may be profitable for you, how far necessary, He only knows. It seems to us more desirable to rejoice in the Lord than to mourn His absence. (Bishop Griswold.)

Sweet stimulants for the fainting soul

I. The complaint.

1. The causes of our being cast down are very numerous. Sometimes it is pain of body; peradventure a wearying pain, which tries the nerves, prevents sleep, distracts our attention, drives away comfort, and hides contentment from our eyes. Often, too, has it been debility of body; some secret disease has been sapping and undermining the very strength of our life.

2. Let us pass now from the most obvious to the more subtle causes of soul-dejection. This complaint is very common among God’s people. When the young believer has first to suffer from it, he thinks that he cannot be a child of God; “for,” saith he, “if I were a child of God, should I be thus?” What fine dreams some of us have when we are just converted! We know not what we are born to in our second birth, and when trouble comes upon us it surprises us.

3. Let me go a step further, and say that the disease mentioned in our text, although it is exceedingly painful, is not at all dangerous. When a man has the toothache it is often very distressing, but it does not kill him. In like manner, God’s children are much vexed with their doubts and fears, but they are never killed by them.

4. I would remark, yet further, that a man may actually be growing in grace while he is cast down; aye, and he may really be standing higher when he is cast down than he did when he stood upright. When we sink the lowest in our own esteem, we rise the highest in fellowship with Christ, and in knowledge of Him. To be cast down is often the best thing that could happen to us. Do you ask, “Why?” Because, when we are cast down, it checks our pride. Were it not for this thorn in the flesh, we should be exalted beyond measure. Besides, when this downcasting comes, it sets us to work at self-examination. Another benefit that we derive from being cast down is that it qualifies us to sympathize with others.

II. The two remedies here mentioned.

1. A reference of ourselves to God. If thou hast a trouble to bear, the best thing for thee to do is not to try to bear it at all, but to cast it upon the shoulders of the Eternal. Often, when I call to see a troubled Christian, do you know what he is almost sure to say? “Oh, sir, I do not feel this--and I do fear that--and I cannot help thinking the other!” That great I is the root of all our sorrows, what I feel, or what I do not feel; that is enough to make any one miserable. It is a wise plan to say to such an one, “Oh yes! I know that all you say about yourself is only too true; but, now, let me hear what you have to say about Christ.” What a change would come over our spirits if we were all to act thus!

2. The grateful remembrance of the past. You have known the sweetness of Jesus’s love, yet you are cast down! Shame upon you! Pluck off those robes of mourning, lay aside that sackcloth and those ashes, down from the willows snatch your harps, and let us together sing praises unto Him whose love and power and faithfulness and goodness shall ever be the same. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Religious depression and its remedy

I. The sigh of religious depression. What has caused it?

1. The faithlessness of friends and kindred. Bitter as it may be to feel the want of respect, of reverence, of obedience, of love from the children that are dear to us, that bitterness is intensified when memory testifies that we ourselves caused the evil by our unwisdom, neglect, or excess of tenderness.

2. The sneer of enemies. To many sensitive natures this is the most painful form of persecution.

3. The hiding of God’s face.

II. The remedy.

1. Faith remembering.

2. Faith hoping. If you turn your back to the sun your shadow will be before you, but if you turn your face to the sun your shadow will be behind you, and you see it not. If you turn your back on God dark shadows will cross your path, thick darkness will be before you; but with your face towards God you will see light in His light, the darkness is past and the true light shineth.

3. Faith triumphing. On the Welsh coast there is a small rocky island with a lighthouse, and in the lighthouse a bell, which on stormy nights rings out its solemn warning to the approaching mariner. When all is calm the bell is not heard, it hangs mute; but when the winds become fierce, and the waves dash high, the bell is set going. It was the storm of trouble that awoke the full harmony of David’s harp. (R. Roberts.)


The path of life is strewed with the fallen blossoms of hope.

I. God often disappoints us to teach us submission to his will. Many and painful experiences are necessary before the natural self-will and self-sufficiency are expelled from the heart.

II. Disappointments are sent us because God means to cite us something better than what we have chosen for ourselves. This is a most familiar experience. We have set our heart upon the attainment of some particular good. God knew better than we did, and in His love He refused to give us what would have been unsuitable to us.

III. God disappoints us at present, to give us what we seek at some better time. Illustrate by Joseph’s disappointment when forgotten by the butler. But, when his hopes were at last realized, how much richer the inheritance! God’s choice of time, as well as God’s choice of gift, will always be found to he the wisest and best.

IV. Our sense of disappointment is unreasonable and foolish. We are ready to forget that there is a law of orderly development by which God works out His plans. Would the husbandman have a right to be disappointed when he discovered that the seed he sowed yesterday had not yet even appeared above the soil? And many of our disappointments are as unreasonable. (Evangelical Advocate.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 42:6". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

"O My God, my soul is cast down within me:

Therefore do I remember thee from the land of the Jordan,

And the Hermons from the hill Mizar.

Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterfalls:

All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.

Yet Jehovah will command his lovingkindness in the daytime;

And in the night his song shall be with me

Even a prayer unto the God of my life."

(See the chapter introduction for a discussion of Psalms 42:6.)

"All thy waves and thy billows have gone over me" (Psalms 42:7). The psalmist here remembers the experience of Jonah, making the same determination that God will yet bless him, just as he blessed Jonah. The passage recalled here is:

"All thy waves and thy billows passed over me ... the waters compassed me about, even to the soul; the deep was round about me. Yet I will look again toward thy holy temple" (Jonah 2:3-5).

It is easy to see that the psalmist here was appealing to God, that just as he had blessed Jonah, so might the same blessings come to the psalmist.

"Jehovah will command his lovingkindness in the daytime; and in the night his song shall be with me" (Psalms 42:8). The future tenses here, "will command," and "shall be with me" are changed to the present tense in the RSV which reads, "By day the Lord commands his stedfast love; and at night his song is with me." "Owing to the flexibility of the meaning of Hebrew tenses, it may be legitimately translated either way."[13]

If we translate the passage as present (RSV) it means that the psalmist is at the present time receiving comfort and consolation from his confessed sense of God's overruling; and, if we translate it future as in ASV, then the psalmist is "stating his assurance that God will enable him to triumph in the midst of storms."[14]

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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

O my God, my soul is cast down within me,.... Which the psalmist repeats, partly to show the greatness of his dejection, though he had not lost his view of interest in God as his covenant God; and partly to observe another method he made use of to remove his dejection and refresh his spirits; and that was by calling to mind past experiences of divine goodness;

therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan; the country round about it, or rather beyond it; which was at the farthest parts of the land of Canaan, where David was obliged to flee, and where he had often met with God;

and of the Hermonites; who inhabited the mountain of Hermon; or the Hermonian mountains, as the Targum; see Psalm 133:3; a mountain upon the border of the land of Israel eastward, and which was very high; Cocceius thinks the Geshurites are meant; see 1 Samuel 27:8; here also the Lord had appeared to him, and for him; and

from the hill Mizar; or "the little hill"F11מצער מהר "de monte modico", V. L. Musculus; "parvo", Pagninus, Vatablus; so Montanus, Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. ; which might be so in comparison of Hermon. The above interpreter thinks Zoar is meant, which Lot so called, Genesis 19:20; which was near Sodom and Gomorrah: Kimchi thinks it might be Zior, mentioned in Joshua 15:54; but, be it what or where it will, in this little hill David enjoyed the divine Presence; or was indulged with some remarkable favour; from all which he concludes he had no just reason to be dejected and disquieted in his mind: and right it is for the people of God to call to mind past experiences, and make mention of them; partly for the glory of divine grace, and to express their gratitude to God, and their sense of his goodness; and partly to cheer and refresh their own spirits, and prevent dejection and despondency: and delightful it is to call to mind, how, at such a time, and in such a place, the Lord was pleased to manifest his love, apply some gracious promise, or deliver from some sore temptation or distress: all which must tend to encourage faith and hope. The Jewish writers differently interpret these words; Jarchi, of David's remembrance of the wonderful works God did for the people of Israel of old, in drying up the river Jordan, and giving them the law on Mount Sinai, a little hill, in comparison of some others: Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, understand them as a reason of his dejection, when he remembered how the Israelites came from those several parts to the solemn feasts at Jerusalem, which he was now deprived of; and the Targum paraphrases them of the inhabitants of those places, and of the people that received the law on Mount Sinai, remembering God; and so Arama thinks "beyond Jordan" is mentioned because the law was given there; and by the hill Mizar he understands Sinai: and some Christian interpreters consider them as a reason why David's soul was cast down in him, he being in such places as here mentioned, at a distance from his own house, from Jerusalem, and the place of divine worship, and so render the words, "because that I remember thee", &c.F12על־כן "propterea quod", Tigurine version, Piscator, Muis; "quia", Noldius, p. 727, No. 1790. .

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Gill, John. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

O my God, my soul is cast down within me: f therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.

(f) That is, when I remember you in this land of my banishment among the mountains.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Dejection again described.

therefore — that is, finding no comfort in myself, I turn to Thee, even in this distant “land of Jordan and the (mountains) Hermon, the country east of Jordan.

hill Mizar — as a name of a small hill contrasted with the mountains round about Jerusalem, perhaps denoted the contempt with which the place of exile was regarded.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.

Therefore — Therefore that I may revive my drooping spirits.

Remember — I will consider thy infinite mercy and power, and faithfulness.

Mizar — From all the parts of the land, to which I shall be driven; whether from the parts beyond Jordan on the east: or mount Hermon, which was in the northern parts.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

6.O my God! my soul is cast down within me. If we suppose that this verse requires no supplement, then it will consist of two distinct and separate sentences. Literally it may be read thus: O my God! my soul is cast down within me, therefore will I remember thee, etc. But the greater number of expositors render the word על-כן , al-ken, by forasmuch as, or because, so that it is employed to express the reason of what is contained in the preceding clause. And certainly it would be very appropriate in this sense, That as often as David, from the land of Jordan, in which he now lay hid as an exile, set himself to think of the sanctuary, his sorrow was so much the more increased. If, however, any would rather, as I have already observed, distinguish this verse into two parts, it must be understood as meaning that David thought of God in his exile, not to nourish his grief, but to assuage it. He did not act the part of those who find no relief in their afflictions but in forgetting God; for although wounded by his hand, he, nevertheless, failed not to acknowledge him to be his physician. Accordingly, the import of the whole verse will be this, I am now living in a state of exile, banished from the temple, and seem to be an alien from the household of God; but this will not prevent me from regarding him, and having recourse to him. I am now deprived of the accustomed sacrifices, of which I stand much in need, but he has not taken from me his word. As, however, the first interpretation is the one more generally received, and this also seems to be added by way of exposition, it is better not to depart from it. David then complains that his soul was oppressed with sorrow, because he saw himself cast out of the Church of God. At the same time, there is in these words a tacit contrast; (119) as if he had said, It is not the desire to be restored to my wife, or my house, or any of my possessions, which grieves me so much as the distressing consideration, that I now find myself prevented from taking part in the service of God. We ought to learn from this, that although we are deprived of the helps which God has appointed for the edification of our faith and piety, it is, nevertheless, our duty to be diligent in stirring up our minds, that we may never suffer ourselves to be forgetful of God. But, above all, this is to be observed, that as in the preceding verse we have seen David contending courageously against his own affections, so now we here see by what means he steadfastly maintained his ground. He did this by having recourse to the help of God, and taking refuge in it as in a holy sanctuary. And, assuredly, if meditation upon the promises of God do not lead us to prayer, it will not have sufficient power to sustain and confirm us. Unless God impart strength to us, how shall we be able to subdue the many evil thoughts which constantly arise in our minds? The soul of man serves the purpose, as it were, of a workshop to Satan in which to forge a thousand methods of despair. And, therefore, it is not without reason that David, after a severe conflict with himself, has recourse to prayer, and calls upon God as the witness of his sorrow. By the land of Jordan is to be understood that part of the country which, in respect of Judea, was beyond the river of that name. This appears still more clearly from the word Hermonim or Hermons. Hermon was a mountainous district, which extended to a considerable distance; and because it had several tops, was called in the plural number Hermonim. (120)

Perhaps David also has purposely made use of the plural number on account of the fear by which he was forced frequently to change his place of abode, and wander hither and thither. As to the word Mizar, some suppose that it was not the proper name of a mountain, and therefore translate it little, supposing that there is here an indirect comparison of the Hermons with the mountain of Sion, as if David meant to say that Sion, which was comparatively a small hill, was greater in his estimation than the lofty Hermons; but it appears to me that this would be a constrained interpretation.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Psalms 42:6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.

Ver. 6. O my God, my soul is cast down within me] Though before he had schooled himself out of his distempers yet now he is troubled again; such are the vicissitudes and interchanges of joy and sorrow that the saints are here subject unto; as soon as the spirit gets the better, as soon the flesh; sometimes good affections prevail, sometimes unruly passions. Affections are the wind of the soul, passions the storm. The soul is well carried when neither so becalmed that it moves not when it should, nor yet tossed with tempests to move disorderly.

Therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan] That is, saith one, I will call to mind former experiments there, and take comfort. Or, I will remember thee, as I may, here at Mahanaim beyond Jordan, under the mount Hermon, and that other little hill (where I have found thee in my meditations and prayers propitious unto me), though I cannot now worship thee in the beauty of holiness, being driven out by my ungracious son Absalom from the place where thine honour dwelleth.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Psalms 42:6

I. Man's natural instinct, when his soul is cast down within him, is to forget God, and not to remember Him, to let God and the higher world slip out of his relaxing hand. Despair is reckless, and deep misery tends strongly to despair.

II. Consider the reason, nature, and fruit of David's remembrance of God when "his soul was cast down within him." (1) The reason. I will remember Thee, for I am not my own, but Thine. Here is the fundamental principle of relief from crushing burdens of care. God cares more for me, for my present and my future, than I care for myself. Here is a fountain of inspiration, the kindling of an unconquerable hope. (2) The nature of the remembrance. What about God did he recall? (a) That the Lord was his portion, of which neither earth nor hell could rob him. (b) "God my rock" opens a new idea. Firmer than the granite mountains, more enduring than the everlasting hills, was this portion of his spirit. (c) He remembered that God was the health of his countenance, and the spring of his everlasting joy. (3) The fruit of his remembrance of God in the depths. "In the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life."

J. Baldwin Brown, The Sunday Afternoon, p. 287.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 42:6. And of the Hermonites, &c.— And Hermonim from the little hill. See Wall, and the version of the Liturgy of the Church of England. Mudge reads, from the little mountain of the Hermons. His soul being cast down, he knows no better way of raising his spirits than by reflecting upon God, where he now is, even beyond Jordan. This he does, Psalms 42:8-9. Hermon probably rose in more eminences than one, and therefore is expressed plurally; one of them, perhaps smaller than the rest, is called here מצער Mitsaar, the little one; from whence probably he used to cast a wistful eye towards Jerusalem. But Bishop Hare observes, that Hermon being nowhere read in the plural, should not be so read here.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

The holy mourner again seems to feel reviving affliction. But the same looking back from Jordan, to the very spot where now arrived, and every step in the path strewed with mercies, again brings up the soul. Mizar bitters, and Mizar sweets, when blended, make a mixture palatable, and more than palatable, to the believer's taste. Reader, depend upon it, the children of Jesus would have lost some of their sweetest views and enjoyments of Jesus, had they never known what difficulties and crosses the hill of Mizar produced to them. Blessed Lord! those souls are highly favored of thee, who are most blessed with a conformity to the fellowship of thy sufferings.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

That I may revive my drooping spirits, I will consider thy infinite mercy, and power, and faithfulness, and thy gracious presence in the sanctuary, from whence thou dost hear and answer all those that call upon thee, in all the parts of the land.

From the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar, i.e. from all the places and parts of the land to which I shall be driven; whether from the parts about or beyond Jordan on the east: or, the Hermonim, i.e. either the people inhabiting Hermon; or the mountain of Hermon, which was in the northern parts, Numbers 34:7 Deuteronomy 3:8 Psalms 89:12, here called Hermonim, in the plural number, because of its great largeness, and many tops and parts of it, which are called by several names: or,

the hill Mizar; a hill so called, though not mentioned elsewhere, which is supposed to have been in the southern parts of the land; but peradventure it was in the east and beyond Jordan; and David might mention these places, because when he was banished by Absalom, he had been successively at all of them, and in all of them had remembered God, and directed his prayer to him.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

6. Therefore—That is, because of my distress.

From the land of Jordan—From beyond Jordan, or east of Jordan.

Hermonites—Mount Hermon bounded Palestine proper on the northeast, and the Hermonites inhabited the adjacent lower lands south and southeast of the mountain.

Hill Mizar—Or the small mountain. It applies to some hill of Gilead, or more probably, some peak of Anti-Lebanon. Nothing definite is known of it, but these references to place indicate that David’s flight would be northeastward if compelled to go beyond Mahanaim. The facts illustrate the faith, courage, and resolution of the king.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The psalmist was far from Jerusalem and the central sanctuary. Evidently he was near the Hermon range of mountains that stood north of the Sea of Chinnereth (Galilee). The Jordan Valley is quite wide north of this sea and the mountains of Hermon rise up to the east from it. Mount Mizar is one of the hills in that area. It was a long way from Mount Zion where the ark dwelt in David"s day.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 42:6. My soul is cast down within me — I am overcome with grief, while I am forced to hide myself in this wilderness beyond Jordan, and wander up and down on these solitary mountains, far distant from thy tabernacle; therefore — That I may revive my drooping spirits; I will remember thee from the land of Jordan — I will consider thy infinite mercy, and power, and faithfulness, and thy gracious presence in the sanctuary, from whence thou dost hear and answer all those that call upon thee. From the hill Mizar — From all the places and parts of the land to which I shall be driven; whether from the parts about, or beyond Jordan on the east; or mount Hermon, which was in the northern parts, here called Hermonim, in the plural number, because of its great extent, and many tops and parts of it called by several names.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

God. Trust in God, whom I hope to see face to face. (Worthington)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

O my God. In some codices this is joined on to the end of Psalms 42:5 = "the great deliverance of me, and [praise]my God". Compare Psalms 42:11 with Psalms 43:5.

Jordan. The reference is to 2 Samuel 17:22.

the Hermonites = the Hermons. Refers to the two peaks.

hill = mountain.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.

O my God, my soul is cast down within me. David here follows out his own call to his soul to 'hope in God' (Psalms 42:5). Jonah evidently based his prayer (Jonah 2:7) on the prayer of David: "When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple." The great Antitype, Messiah, in Matthew 26:38 ("My soul is exceeding sorrowful" - literally, surrounded with sorrow; and John 12:27, "Now is my soul troubled"), used the very words wherewith the Septuagint translate Psalms 42:4-5 [ perilupos (Greek #4036) ei (Greek #1487) hee (Greek #3588) psuchee (Greek #5590) mou (Greek #3450) (Psalms 42:5); and Psalms 42:6, hee (Greek #3588) psuchee (Greek #5590) mou (Greek #3450) etarachthee (Greek #5015). So the Greek in Matthew 26:38 and John 12:27].

Therefore will I remember thee. It is his consolation that he can still remember God, and His past grace to him, even though he is excluded from the temple of God. Whilst he 'remembers this' his exclusion (Psalms 42:4) with bitter pain, he can also 'remember God' to his soul's consolation. The remembrance of the Lord counterbalances the remembrance of the removal of past privileges.

From the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. Translate, '(from the land) of the From the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. Translate, '(from the land) of the Hermons' - i:e., from the region beyond Jordan. Hermon, in Psalms 89:12, represents the transjordanic region, as Tabor represented the Canaanite side of Jordan. Not that David was exactly at Hermon, but he was in the transjordanic region wherein 'the Hermons' - i:e., Hermon and its fellow-mountains-were; namely, at Mahanaim, north of the Jabbok, upon the borders of Gad and Manasseh (2 Samuel 17:24; 2 Samuel 17:27; 1 Kings 2:8). The transjordanic region was regarded as in a measure separate from the Holy Land proper, as the transaction between Reuben, Gad, and half Manasseh on one side, and the rest of Israel on the other shows (Joshua 22:1-29). The reference in "Mizar" is to its meaning little. The name is regarded by David as ominous of the locality where he is exiled. The greatest of earthly elevations is but little when compared with the moral elevation of the Lord's hill of Zion (Psalms 68:15-16). The greatest 'hide their diminished heads' before Yahweh (Psalms 114:4; Psalms 114:6; Isaiah 2:2).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(6) Cast down.—The poet, though faith condemns his dejection, still feels it, and cannot help expressing it. The heart will not be tranquil all at once, and the utterance of its trouble, so natural, so pathetic, long after served, in the very words of the LXX., to express a deeper grief, and mark a more tremendous crisis (John 12:27; Matthew 26:38).

Therefore will I.—Better, therefore do I remember thee. (Comp. Jonah 2:7.)

From the land of Jordan—i.e., the uplands of the north-east, where the river rises. The poet has not vet passed quite into the land of exile, the country beyond Jordan, but already he is on its borders, and as his sad eyes turn again and again towards the loved country he is leaving, its sacred summits begin to disappear, while ever nearer and higher rise the snow-clad peaks of Hermon.

Hermonites.—Rather, of the Hermons, i.e., either collectively for the whole range (as generally of mountains, the Balkans, etc.) or with reference to the appearance of the mountain as a ridge with a conspicuous peak at either end. (See Thomson, Land and Book, p. 177.) In reality, however, the group known especially as Hermon has three summits, situated, like the angles of a triangle, a quarter of a mile from each other, and of almost equal elevation. (See Smith’s Bible Dict., “Hermon.” Comp. Our Work in Palestine, p. 246.)

The hill Mizar.—Marg., the little hill. So LXX. and Vulg., a monte modico. (Comp. the play on the name Zoar in Genesis 19:20.) Hence some think the poet is contrasting Hermon with Zion. In such a case, however, the custom of Hebrew poetry was to exalt Zion, and not depreciate the higher mountains, and it is very natural to suppose that some lower ridge or pass, over which the exile may be supposed wending his sad way, was actually called “the little,” or “the less.”

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.
my God
22:1; 43:4; 88:1-3; Matthew 26:39; 27:46
77:6-11; Jonah 2:7
from the
61:2; 2 Samuel 17:22,27
Deuteronomy 3:8,9; 4:47,48
the hill Mizar
or, the little hill.

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Ver. 6. My God, my soul is troubled in me, therefore do I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermons, from the small mountain. The Psalmist, following out the admonition to wait on God, seeks, amid the deep pain, which his separation from the sanctuary had occasioned him, consolation in this, that he thinks of God, and vividly realizes his grace and compassion, of which at an earlier period he had received so many proofs. Calvin: "For how can it be possible, if God withholds his grace from us, that we should overmaster so many evil thoughts, as every moment press in upon us? For man's soul is as a workshop of Satan to produce in a thousand ways despair." Many expositors have not been able to lay hold of the thoughts of the verse. Thus, Stier remarks: "This otherwise just sense does not fit itself well into the internal organism of the song, rising as it does, at this time, from lamentation into consolation. It is not for consolation, but primarily for doleful longing, that the Psalmist here thinks of God, who once was his God, and appeared now to have forgotten him in his removal and banishment." Hence several of such expositors seek to extort the sense wished for by them, just at the expense of the ascertained meaning of the words: they explain על כן, which never signifies anything else than therefore, by because, and thus exchange what, in the text, appears as the symptom of the affliction into its ground. Others who cannot consent to this, expound: because the Psalmist feels himself so unfortunate he thinks with painful longing of his country's God. But the reason derived from the organism of the Psalm against the right exposition given above, amounts to nothing. Even according to that exposition, the Psalmist ascends from lamentation to consolation; but that the lamentation here does not figure so broadly as in the first strophe, that the consolation so immediately meets it, must appear highly natural, when the exhortation to "wait on God" had just preceded. This exhortation could not possibly die away without producing an effect. But that the thinking is of a consolatory, not of a painful sort, is clear from the following considerations—1. The verse evidently gives in rapid outline, what in Psalms 42:7-10 is more fully delineated. The formal arrangement already speaks in favour of this. According to it, there must necessarily have existed an intercalated verse in the second strophe, and none excepting this can be found. Now, Psalms 42:7 is an expansion of the thought: my soul is troubled, Psalms 42:8-10, an expansion of this: I think of thee. But in these verses the Psalmist represents his consolation and his help as being in God, who quickens him through the manifestations of his grace, who gives him joyfulness for his praise—joyfulness to pour out his heart before him in child-like confidence, and unfold to him all his necessity and his pain. 2. The prayer of Jonah, which manifestly leans throughout on passages of the Psalms, presents in Jonah 2:7 the oldest commentary on this verse: "Then was my spirit troubled in me, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to thee into thy holy temple"—where, it is clear as day, that the remembering is of a consolatory nature, the antidote to the affliction. The expression: "my soul is troubled in me," the Lord has appropriated to himself in Matthew 26:38, John 12:27, not without profound reason borrowing the words, which indicated his sorrow, from a Psalm rich in consolation, so that, whosoever should take these words from him, might with him also look into the back-ground. It is remarkable, that the two Greek forms of the declaration in the Gospels are found in the LXX in Psalms 42:5 they have περίλυπος εἶ ἡ ψυχή μου, comp. Matt., and in this ver. ἡ ψυχή μου ἐ ταραχθη, comp. John. The phrase: I remember, think of thee, has respect to that in Psalms 42:4 : I think on this. The thought of the Lord forms the counterpoise to the thought of the lost salvation. The land of Jordan of itself may mean the Cisjordanic, as well as the Transjordanic land. We must not regard this designation as separate, but must view it in connection with the following: and of the Hermons. Hermon represents also in Psalms 89:12, the Transjordanic region, as Tabor the Cisjordanic: "Tabor and Hermon rejoice in thy name." That the Psalmist was situated, not precisely on Hermon, but only generally in the Transjordanic region—that we are hence perfectly justified in thinking here of David's sojourn at Mahanaim, on the further side of Jordan, to the north of Jabbok, upon the boundaries of the tribes Gad and Manasseh, comp. 2 Samuel 17:24, 2 Samuel 17:27, 1 Kings 2:8, is clear, not only from the mention of the Jordan, but also from the plural: the Hermons. As this nowhere else occurs, we cannot go along with the current supposition, that it is not a single mountain, but an entire mountain-range, just as we say now: the Alps, the Appennines; for it is not probable, that a geographical designation should find a place only here. We would rather understand the plural according to the analogy of Leviticus 17:7, where "the bucks" denotes the buck-god and others of his brotherhood—comp. Beitr. P. IL p. 120 ,—and 1 Kings 18:18, where the Baalim stand for, Baal and his companions; the Hermons=Hermon and the other mountains of the Transjordanic region. The plural indicates, that Hermon comes into consideration only as a representative of the species. Finally, the special mention of Hermon would be quite unsuitable here, since the Psalmist manifestly did not wish to determine exactly his place of sojourn in a geographical point of view, but only to indicate this in so far as to make it clear, how much reason on that account he had to think of the Lord. But this reason was not specially connected with Hermon; it belonged generally to his retreat beyond Jordan. The Cisjordanic land was the land of Canaan in the proper sense, comp. Joshua 22:11. The transaction related in that chapter between the Cisjordanic and Transjordanic tribes abundantly explain the painful emotions, with which the Psalmist mentions here "the land of Jordan and the Hermons." The people on the further side of Jordan betray their fear, that their brethren might come to say, the Jordan separates between those who are, and those who are not the people of the covenant. The people on the other side say to them, Joshua 22:19, "And if the land of your possession be unclean, then pass ye over into the land of the possession of the Lord, wherein the Lord's tabernacle is." To be driven out into this land, and thereby cut off from all access to the sanctuary of the Lord, the Psalmist must have felt to be a heavy affliction. From what has been said, it is at the same time clear, that though we should take Mizhar as nom. propr. of a mountain, on which the Psalmist stood, still a reference must even then lie at bottom to its appellative signification, the small mountain, as it cannot be designed to give a geographically exact description of the Psalmist's place of retreat. The name of the hill is to the Psalmist an omen of the condition of the whole land, in which he is located. Comp. Psalms 68:16, Isaiah 2:2.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 42:6". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms.

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