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Discover Psalms Parallels Psalm 42

Discover Psalms Parallels

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Psalm 42

NIV Psalm 42 – Hunger / Ghetto Living

For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah.

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
   so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
   When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
   day and night,

while people say to me all day long,
   ‘Where is your God?’
4 These things I remember
   as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
   under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
   among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
   Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,
   for I will yet praise him,
   my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
   therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
   the heights of Hermon – from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
   in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
   have swept over me.

8 By day the Lord directs his love,
   at night his song is with me –
   a prayer to the God of my life.

9 I say to God my Rock,
   ‘Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
   oppressed by the enemy?’

10 My bones suffer mortal agony
   as my foes taunt me,

saying to me all day long,
  ‘Where is your God?’

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
   Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,
   for I will yet praise him,
   my Savior and my God.


Historical Parallel - World War II Ghettos – 1942

This Psalm takes the reader to the very pit of despair. Verse 3 speaks of no food, verses 9 and 10 speak of agony, oppression, and mourning. The imagery reminds one of the World War II ghettos.

“Where is your God?” is repeated twice in this Psalm. Consider that the Nazis burned the Hebrew Bible intentionally, all over Germany for the duration of World War II. It was not done in secret; instead, it was a public spectacle – a blatant act of violence against Jews. Alon Confino reported in his article in Commentary that Torah “scrolls were touched, carried, rolled out, trampled on, biked and walked over, tied to the backs of Jews, thrown into rivers, torn apart, and set ablaze.” The acts were a direct affront to Jews and Judaism. [i]

The Final Solution of the Jewish Question is first introduced to key Nazi officials on January 20, 1942, by Reinhard Heydrich, and is presented as a solution to rid Germany of its Jewish inhabitants forever. Throughout the entire year of 1942, the Nazi’s operated concentration camps within which Jews were confined; periodically, the Nazi’s would then deport hundreds of thousands of Jews from the concentration camps to the killing centers where they would be killed in gas chambers or shot.  [ii]

Warsaw Ghetto was the Nazi’s largest ghetto during World War II. At its peak, the Warsaw Ghetto imprisoned around 460,000 Jews, who were confined within 1.3 square miles. Records from 1942 indicate that at least 254,000 Jewish prisoners from Warsaw were sent to and killed at the Treblinka extermination camp that year alone. The total death toll on record from the Warsaw Ghetto stands at minimum of 300,000 Jews deported to killing centers, along with an estimated 90,000 starvation or disease casualties. Consider verse 3 against these conditions.

Nazi officials tried to exterminate the Jewish prisoners within the Warsaw Ghetto through hunger and disease and thus limited food and medical supplies. An average daily food ration for a German prisoner was set at 2,613 calories; Jewish prisoners were only allowed 184 calories when the Ghetto opened, which then dropped to 174 calories. Due to the food shortage, the black market economy expanded, and charity work increased to meet the demand. Smuggling became a necessity for survival, which was often done by small children who crossed the ghetto walls by the hundreds every day. Children whose parents were killed or died from health issues were left as orphans and many died themselves from starvation and lack of basic necessities. [iii]


[i] Confino, Alon. “Why the Nazi’s burned the Hebrew Bible,” Commentary, accessed December 22, 2021,

[ii] United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “1942 Key Dates.” Holocaust Encyclopedia. Accessed on December 22, 2021.

[iii] “Warsaw Ghetto,” Wikipedia, last modified October 27, 2021,

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