Summary: Temple musicians, descendants of a rebel priest who died at God’s hand, help us explore mysteries of our faith.
OF THE SONS OF KORAH
“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Ps. 42:2).
Temple musicians, descendants of a rebel priest who died at God’s hand, help us explore mysteries of our faith.
Book II. Most believe this second collection of psalms was assembled during the time of Solomon. While containing other authors it, features works of David.
The sons of Korah. Korah rebelled during the Exodus and was killed (Num. 16). But his children were spared. One branch of his descendants became temple guardians (cf. 1 Chron. 9:17ff), while another branch served as temple singers and musicians (cf. 6:31, 33, 39, 44). These descendants of Korah contributed 12 works to the Book of Psalms, most of which may have been used in temple liturgy.
The sons of Korah probed deeply, to help us examine love for God (Ps. 42), divine vindication (Ps. 43), and the mystery of national defeat (Ps. 44). A wedding song conveys messianic truth (Ps. 45), while “God with us” is exalted as our fortress (Ps. 46). The last three psalms celebrate God’s rule (Ps. 47), His eternal city (Ps. 48), and redemption from this transient world (Ps. 49).
Understanding the Text
Psalm 42: In Love with God. Love for God lifts the downcast spirit and revives hope.
“My soul pants for You” Ps. 42:1–5. The image is one of a lover separated for a time from his beloved. He can think of nothing but her, and misses her terribly.
This is the love-driven emotion of the temple musician, away for a time from Jerusalem, yearning to once again lead “the procession to the house of God.” His only comfort is the hope that soon he will return to praise God there again.
“I will remember You” Ps. 42:6–11. The sense of separation is unbearable, yet the writer knows that the LORD “directs His love” to him. The separation hurts, yet the writer consoles himself that “I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God.”
For this son of Korah, the temple symbolized God’s presence, and he wished to be as close to God as possible. How wonderful that you and I can simply close our eyes, shut out the world, and be immediately in the presence of our LORD.
When your soul thirsts for God, go to Him. He is there, with you, only a thought away.
Psalm 43: A Plea for Vindication. In the end, God will prove that our faith has been well-placed.
“Vindicate me” Ps. 43:1. The psalmist envisioned God as Judge, taking his side in court against wicked men who had him in their power. The basis for his plea was that “You are God my stronghold.”
“Why?” Ps. 43:2 Yet if God is ours, why must we suffer oppression? Why does He seem to reject us?
Such feelings are common when troubles come. We wonder why, and even question God’s commitment to us. In fact, we can never understand the why. But the psalmist does have a solution.
“Send forth Your light and Your truth” Ps. 43:3–5. God’s light and truth, images here for His Word, do not so much explain our troubles as lead us back to God Himself. “Then I will go to the altar of God,” the psalmist said, and praise Him.
What we need most when hurting is not answers, or even relief. What we need is to come into God’s presence, there to find hope and to offer praise.
Psalm 44: The Mystery of Defeat. History teaches that God gives victory when His people obey. Why, now that Israel remains faithful, has defeat come?
“We have heard” Ps. 44:1–8. Scripture testifies of the victories God won for Israel during the Conquest.
“But now” Ps. 44:9–22. Recent defeats puzzled the psalmist, for Israel had not forgotten God or violated His covenant. Why then did God not act?
“Awake, O LORD!” Ps. 44:23–26 Puzzled and pained, the psalmist begged God to “rise up and help us.”
The psalm does present a puzzle, yet a common one. Why does God sometimes permit His most faithful servants to suffer? While Psalm 44 offers no specific answer, there may be a hint in verse 22. “For Your sake we face death all day long.” Not all suffering is punishment. Some suffering may be the price we pay for remaining loyal to God in a hostile world. As Peter reminds us, to this we were called, “Because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21).
Psalm 45: A Wedding Psalm. The celebration of a royal wedding shifts focus to offer triumphant praise to the coming Messiah.
“At your right hand is the royal bride” Ps. 45:1–9. Many things in this world are shadows cast by realities to be found in the world to come. The joy of the wedding feast transports us to visions of the heavenly union awaiting God and Israel, Christ and His church.