Psalms 42 and 43 begin the “Exodus” section of the Psalms. Like the children of Israel in Exodus 15 and 17, the Psalmist was marked by:
Thirst: His longing was for God. While we are not sure of the circumstances which gave birth to the Psalm, and we cannot dogmatically say David is the author, certainly many of David’s experiences were consistent with those of the writer.
He knew Tears: Amidst his loneliness and longing, he shed tears as he watched and waited for God. Tears were his companion day and night.
He knew Taunts: The ungodly mocked him (Psa 42:3). The great antitype, the Lord Jesus, experienced the worst of this as, amidst His faithfulness and trust in His God, He endured the cruel taunts of callous and wicked men. But the Psalmist as well, seemingly abandoned in his distress, also knew the grief of a lonely pathway.
He knew Trouble: “All Thy waves and billows are gone over me” (v7). What form his grief took, what agents or means were used to press him down, we are not told. Each generation can fill in the blanks with what is unique to them. But he felt the tremendous grief of the moment, likening it to the relentless pounding of the wild waves of the raging ocean.
He knew Trust: Amidst the overwhelming sorrows that he likened to the raging of a storm, he stated that he would make his prayer “unto the God of my life” (v8). Prayer is vital amidst trouble and tears, but a right perception of God is even more important. “The God of my life” leaps beyond the boundaries of poetic language to embrace a worldview that sees everything in life as ordered by the hand and heart of a loving God. As the “God of my Life,” He stands in relationship to me, caring and controlling everything. No taunt can arise, no tear can fall, no trial can beset that does not pass through the filter of His permissive will for me. As the “God of my life,” the psalmist bowed to the sovereign wisdom and control of God. As the “God of my life” I should be able to accept every circumstance from His hand. What I may view as hindering my life, is just the sort of life God is giving me to live.
He knew Triumph as well. As a result of his understanding of God’s control of his life, the psalmist was able to say, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul … Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him” (v11). The character and control of God can give peace and confidence in every circumstance of life. Centuries later, another (Spurgeon) could say, “When you cannot trace His hand, you can trust His heart.”