Psalm 42

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Psalm 42
"As the hart panteth after the water brooks"
Hymn psalm
Folio 97v - Psalm XLI.jpg
Psalm 42 in Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry (fol. 97v), with an illustration of a drinking hart
Other name
  • Psalm 41
  • "Quemadmodum desiderat cervus"
  • "Sicut cervus"
  • "Like as the hart"
  • "As pants the hart"
LanguageHebrew (original)

Psalm 42 is the 42nd psalm of the Book of Psalms, often known in English by its incipit, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks" (in the King James Version). The Book of Psalms is part of the third section of the Hebrew Bible, and a book of the Christian Old Testament. In the Hebrew Bible, Psalm 42 opens the second of the five books (divisions) of Psalms,[1] also known as the "Elohistic Psalter" because the word YHWH is rarely used and God is generally referred to as "Elohim".[2]

In the slightly different numbering system used in the Greek Septuagint version of the bible, and generally in its Latin translations, this psalm is Psalm 41, although the Nova Vulgata translation follows the Hebrew numbering.[3] The psalm is a hymn psalm. It is one of twelve psalms attributed to the sons of Korah.

In Latin, its incipit in the Psalterium Gallicanum (the version in the Roman Breviary until the optional introduction of the Versio Piana in 1945) is Quemadmodum desiderat cervus;[4] but Sicut cervus in the Psalterium Romanum. It begins "As pants the hart" in the English metrical version by Tate and Brady (1696) and in Coverdale's translation in the Book of Common Prayer, "Like as the hart".

The psalm forms a regular part of Jewish, Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and other Protestant liturgies and has often been set to music, notably in Palestrina's Sicut cervus, Handel's As pants the hart and Mendelssohn's Psalm 42.

Background and themes[edit]

While the psalm is attributed to the "sons of Korah", the text is written in the first person singular.[5] The psalm can be divided into two parts, each ending with the same line (verses 6 and 12 in the Hebrew).[6]

The psalmist bemoans all the troubles he has endured in his exile and prays for salvation.[5] He laments his remoteness from the temple of God and expresses his desire for the renewal of the divine presence.[6] Matthew Henry speculates that David might have composed this psalm when he was prevented from returning to the sanctuary in Jerusalem, either due to persecution by Saul or because of Absalom's revolt.[7]

Some ancient Hebrew manuscripts have this Psalm combined with Psalm 43,[8] and C. S. Rodd argues on account of "similarities of thought and language" that these two psalms were originally one.[9]


Hebrew Bible version[edit]

Following is the Hebrew text of Psalm 42:[10]

Verse Hebrew
1 לַֽמְנַצֵּ֜חַ מַשְׂכִּ֥יל לִבְנֵי־קֹֽרַח
2 כְּאַיָּ֗ל תַּֽעֲרֹ֥ג עַל־אֲפִיקֵי־מָ֑יִם כֵּ֚ן נַפְשִׁ֨י תַֽעֲרֹ֖ג אֵלֶ֣יךָ אֱלֹהִֽים
3 צָמְאָ֬ה נַפְשִׁ֨י | לֵֽאלֹהִים֘ לְאֵ֪ל֫ חָ֥י מָתַ֥י אָב֑וֹא וְ֜אֵֽרָאֶ֗ה פְּנֵ֣י אֱלֹהִֽים
4 הָֽיְתָה־לִּ֬י דִמְעָתִ֣י לֶ֖חֶם יוֹמָ֣ם וָלָ֑יְלָה בֶּֽאֱמֹ֥ר אֵלַ֥י כָּל־הַ֜יּ֗וֹם אַיֵּ֥ה אֱלֹהֶֽיךָ
5 אֵ֚לֶּה אֶזְכְּרָ֨ה | וְאֶשְׁפְּכָ֤ה עָלַ֨י | נַפְשִׁ֗י כִּ֚י אֶֽעֱבֹ֨ר | בַּסָּךְ֘ אֶדַּדֵּ֗ם עַד־בֵּ֥ית אֱלֹ֫הִ֥ים בְּקֽוֹל־רִנָּ֥ה וְ֜תוֹדָ֗ה הָ֘מ֥וֹן חוֹגֵֽג
6 מַה־תִּֽשְׁתּ֬וֹחֲחִ֨י | נַפְשִׁי֘ וַתֶּֽהֱמִ֪י עָ֫לָ֥י הוֹחִ֣ילִי לֵֽ֖אלֹהִים כִּי־ע֥וֹד אוֹדֶ֗נּוּ יְשׁוּע֥וֹת פָּנָֽיו
7 אֱֽלֹהַ֗י עָלַי֘ נַפְשִׁ֪י תִשְׁתּ֫וֹחָ֥ח עַל־כֵּ֗ן אֶ֖זְכָּרְךָ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ יַרְדֵּ֑ן וְ֜חֶרְמוֹנִ֗ים מֵהַ֥ר מִצְעָֽר
8 תְּהֽוֹם־אֶל־תְּה֣וֹם ק֖וֹרֵא לְק֣וֹל צִנּוֹרֶ֑יךָ כָּל־מִשְׁבָּרֶ֥יךָ וְ֜גַלֶּ֗יךָ עָלַ֥י עָבָֽרוּ
9 יוֹמָ֚ם | יְצַוֶּ֬ה יְהֹוָ֨ה | חַסְדּ֗וֹ וּ֖בַלַּיְלָה שִׁירֹ֣ה עִמִּ֑י תְּ֜פִלָּ֗ה לְאֵ֣ל חַיָּֽי
10 אֽוֹמְרָ֚ה | לְאֵ֥ל סַלְעִי֘ לָמָ֪ה שְׁכַ֫חְתָּ֥נִי לָֽמָּה־קֹדֵ֥ר אֵ֜לֵ֗ךְ בְּלַ֣חַץ אוֹיֵֽב
11 בְּרֶ֚צַח | בְּֽעַצְמוֹתַ֗י חֵֽרְפ֥וּנִי צֽוֹרְרָ֑י בְּאָמְרָ֖ם אֵלַ֥י כָּל־הַ֜יּ֗וֹם אַיֵּ֥ה אֱלֹהֶֽיךָ
12 מַה־תִּֽשְׁתּ֬וֹחֲחִ֨י | נַפְשִׁי֘ וּמַה־תֶּֽהֱמִ֪י עָ֫לָ֥י הוֹחִ֣ילִי לֵֽ֖אלֹהִים כִּי־ע֣וֹד אוֹדֶ֑נּוּ יְשׁוּעֹ֥ת פָּ֜נַ֗י וֵֽאלֹהָֽי

King James Version[edit]

  1. As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
  2. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?
  3. My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?
  4. When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.
  5. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.
  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.
  7. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.
  8. Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
  9. I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
  10. As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?
  11. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

The interpretation of the psalm's opening has been disputed for centuries. Jonathan Nathan argues that the traditional translation ("As the hart panteth after the water brooks") is based on an ancient but unsupported guess about the meaning of the rare Hebrew word תַּעֲרֹג. A better interpretation might be: "As you [God] turn a deer towards streams of water, so do you turn my soul towards yourself".[11]


Start of Psalm 42 (Psalm 41 Vulgate) in Latin, Klösterle Innerteuchen, Gemeinde Arriach, Kärnten. (J. F. Fromiller)


Sephardi Jews recite Psalm 42 on the first and second nights of Sukkot prior to the evening prayer.[12] Those who follow the custom of the Gra say Psalm 42 as the Song of the Day on the second day of Sukkot.[13]

Verse 2 is said during Selichot.[13]

Psalm 42 is one of the ten Psalms of the Tikkun HaKlali of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.[14][15]

This psalm is traditionally recited as a prayer for the end of the exile, and "to find favor in the eyes of others".[16]

New Testament[edit]

The Septuagint rendering of some words in verse 5[note 1] shows close resemblance to the words of Jesus during the Agony in the Garden[note 2] as recorded in Matthew 26:38[17] or Mark 14:34.[18][19][20] A part of the next verse[note 3] in Greek also resembles what was spoken by Jesus during the same event,[note 4] according to John 12:27.[21][22]

Fathers of the Church[edit]

In his discourse on this psalm, Saint Augustine of Hippo says that it corresponds to the longings of the Church.[23][24]

Catholic Church[edit]

In the Rule of St. Benedict (530)[25][26] this psalm was the fourth of those assigned to the second nocturn of Monday matins.[27] In the Roman Breviary promulgated by Pope Pius V in 1568, it is the fourth in Tuesday matins. In the 1911 Reform of the Roman Breviary by Pope Pius X, it appears, divided into two parts, in Tuesday sext. In the post-Vatican II Liturgy of the Hours it is the first psalm in lauds on the Monday of the second of the four weeks over which the psalter is spread. In the Roman Missal, the responsorial psalm sung after a reading is several times composed of verses from this psalm, as at the Easter Vigil and at Masses for the Dead.

Book of Common Prayer[edit]

In the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer, the text begins "Like as a hart". The psalm is appointed to be read on the evening of the eighth day of the month.[28]

Musical settings[edit]

Musical settings of the psalm include:



K'ayal ta'arog (As the hart pants, verses 2–3) is a popular Jewish song.[33] An early Hasidic nigun was composed by the first Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi. The third Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn (the Tzemach Tzedek) also composed a melody for it.[34]


  1. ^ Verse 5 in English bible numbering, or verse 6 in Hebrew bible numbering, contains ἵνα τί περίλυπος εἶ, ἡ ψυχή, "why are you cast down, O my soul" (ESV).
  2. ^ Gospels of Matthew and Mark note in Greek that Jesus says, περίλυπός ἐστιν ἡ ψυχή μου, "my soul is exceeding sorrowful" (KJV)
  3. ^ Verse 6 in English bible numbering, or verse 7 in Hebrew bible numbering, contains ἡ ψυχή μουταράχθη, "my soul is cast down within me" (ESV)
  4. ^ Gospel of John notes in Greek that Jesus says ἡ ψυχή μου τετάρακται, "my soul (is) troubled" (ESV).


  1. ^ "Book 2: Chapters 42–72". 2018. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  2. ^ Rodd, C. S., 18. Psalms in Barton, J. and Muddiman, J. (2001), The Oxford Bible Commentary, p. 360
  3. ^ Nova Vulgata: Psalm 42 (41), accessed 28 September 2020
  4. ^ Parallel Latin/English Psalter / Psalmus 41 (42) Archived May 7, 2017, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b Abramowitz, Rabbi Jack (2018). "Psalms – Chapter 42". Orthodox Union. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Spurgeon, Charles Haddon (2016). Treasury of David. Bible Study Steps. pp. 1456–7.
  7. ^ Henry, Matthew (2018). "Psalms 42". Bible Study Tools. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  8. ^ Stedman, Ray C. (April 29, 2015). Psalms: Folk Songs of Faith. Discovery House. p. 125. ISBN 978-1-57293-880-9. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  9. ^ Rodd, C. S., 18. Psalms in Barton, J. and Muddiman, J. (2001), The Oxford Bible Commentary, p. 379
  10. ^ "Tehillim - Psalms - Chapter 42". 2018. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  11. ^ Nathan, Jonathan (2021). "The Meaning and Syntax of taʿărōg". Vetus Testamentum. 71 (4–5): 665–672. doi:10.1163/15685330-00001142. S2CID 235524962.
  12. ^ Nulman, Macy (1996). The Encyclopedia of Jewish Prayer: The Ashkenazic and Sephardic Rites. Jason Aronson. p. 209. ISBN 1461631246.
  13. ^ a b Brauner, Reuven (2013). "Shimush Pesukim: Comprehensive Index to Liturgical and Ceremonial Uses of Biblical Verses and Passages" (PDF) (2nd ed.). p. 37.
  14. ^ Weintraub, Rabbi Simkha Y. (2018). "Psalms as the Ultimate Self-Help Tool". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  15. ^ Greenbaum, Rabbi Avraham (2007). "The Ten Psalms: English Translation". Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  16. ^ "Categories". Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  17. ^ Matthew 26:38 Greek,
  18. ^ Mark 14:34 Greek,
  19. ^ Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1895). The Book of Psalms: with Introduction and Notes. Books II and III: Psalms XLII-LXXXIX. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Vol. 16. Cambridge: At the University Press. p. 229. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  20. ^ Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1901). The Book of Psalms: with Introduction and Notes. Books IV and V: Psalms XC-CL. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Cambridge: At the University Press. p. 838. ISBN 9780243829507. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  21. ^ John 12:27 Greek,
  22. ^ Kirkpatrick 1895, pp. 229–230.
  23. ^ St. Augustine: Exposition on the Book of Psalms, Psalm XLII
  24. ^ Exposition on Psalm 42 at New
  25. ^ Prosper Guéranger, Règle de saint Benoît (Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, reprinted 2007) p. 46.
  26. ^ La distribution des Psaumes dans la Règle de Saint Benoît.
  27. ^ Psautier latin-français du bréviaire monastique, (1938/2003) p. 161.
  28. ^ Church of England, Book of Common Prayer: The Psalter as printed by John Baskerville in 1762, pp. 196ff
  29. ^ Sicut Cervus, video on YouTube.
  30. ^ Tori Kelly Premieres "Psalm 42". Herb Longs, The Christian Beat. 09 September 2018.
  31. ^ "Master of The King's Music, Judith Weir CBE composes new work for the State Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II". Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  32. ^ "The State Funeral and Committal Service for Her Majesty The Queen". The Royal Family. September 15, 2022. Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  33. ^ "K'ayal Ta'arog". Zemirot Database. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  34. ^ "Heichal Neginah" (in Hebrew). 2004. Retrieved September 25, 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • Olofsson, Staffan (2011). As a deer longs for flowing streams: a study of the Septuagint version of Psalm 42-43 in its relation to the Hebrew text. De Septuaginta investigationes. Vol. 1. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. ISBN 9783525533833.

External links[edit]