It’s Only a Song…
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God! (Psalm 42:5)
This verse appears three times, twice in this one and once is Psalm 43. When you read these Psalms together, you realize that this phrase (v. 5, 11, and v. 5 in the second psalm) fills the function of a refrain or chorus. Now the purpose of a chorus (except for those who aren’t very good with lyrics and need to say things over and over) is to repeat lines both thematically and musically to ensure it sticks, and that we don’t miss whatever it is being said (sung). So what precedes this chorus?
Verse 1 . (musically speaking) Apparently the Psalmist is no longer near the Temple, is missing the worship and the fellowship, and is taunted by his enemies about the very existence of his God.
We should remember the passage from Hebrews: And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25)
If for some reason the writer found himself alone, then worship and encouragement would have been is short supply.
Verse 2. More isolation; more taunting and oppression.
But in the midst of this second verse, the Psalmist sings: But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life. (42:8) Now I’ve got to ask: if God is pouring out His unfailing love each day, and he’s singing and praying every night—what’s wrong with his heart?
Verse 3. The oppression continues, as well as false claims against him.
Here he prays for God’s deliverance and guidance. Then the chorus appears for the last time.
So the question still stands: what’s wrong with his heart? It is not for me to question, for clearly there is something troubling this saint. Within these two psalms, we’ve seen plenty of reasons for sorrow. But we’ve also seen God’s provision. So is sorrow winning over God’s grace?
I suppose it can, if we leave ourselves to it, and surrender to the sadness. Then depression an discouragement can set in. But all throughout this psalm, this songwriter examines his surroundings, his emotions, and his relations. And his decision? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God! I will, he says. And he chooses action over inaction. He chooses worship over weeping.
One more thing. The last phrase is: my Savior and my God. And the Hebrew word for Savior is Yeshua, which is Jesus. So if you’re experiencing this sorrow, remember: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)
Choose the Savior over sorrow.