There is No Psalm 43

There is No Psalm 43
Psalms 42 and 43

As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. (NKJV)

Okay. Yes there is a Psalm 43. But perhaps there should not have been. But then again, who are we to say how God organizes His Bible?

We note with commentators a curious thing: the poetry style, subject matter, and mood of Psalm 42 continues without interruption into what we label as Psalm 43. By all appearances these two psalms are actually a single work, which for some reason became separated and separately numbered.

Is this what King David intended?

Here is the New King James Version of Psalm 42 plus Psalm 43, appended together without verse numbers, without the 42 and 43 markers, and using stanza separation spacing supplied not by the NKJV but by Bible Bits. Can you discern a discontinuity point anywhere in this stuck-together flow?

New King James Version of Psalms 42 + 43

To the Chief Musician. A Contemplation of the sons of Korah.

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
While they continually say to me,
“Where is your God?”

When I remember these things,
I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go with the multitude;
I went with them to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and praise,
With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.
O my God, my soul is cast down within me;
Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan,
And from the heights of Hermon,
From the Hill Mizar.
Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me.
The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me—
A prayer to the God of my life.

I will say to God my Rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As with a breaking of my bones,
My enemies reproach me,
While they say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

Vindicate me, O God,
And plead my cause against an ungodly nation;
Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!
For You are the God of my strength;
Why do You cast me off?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!
Let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacle.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise You,
O God, my God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.
(NKJV)


Where is the 42 to 43 break?

As an additional exercise, note the first line of 42…

To the Chief Musician. A Contemplation of the sons of Korah.

and then examine (in your Bible) the first lines of all psalms nearby on either side of 42 and 43. You will discover that from Psalm 34 to Psalm 70, every psalm except 43 begins with a title or label line. Many of the 150 psalms have one of these title/label first lines, declaring things such as “To the choir director: a psalm of so-and-so” or “A Psalm of David.”

If Psalm 43 is a stand-alone piece, why didn’t it receive a title/label like its neighbors?

By the way, in Jewish-oriented renderings of the Psalms, these title lines are numbered, and given verse number one. Christian Bibles (mostly) leave these title lines unnumbered, but they are part of scripture, not simply fluff added by the publisher of this or that translation. Look for a Jewish Publication Society printing of the Tanakh in your online or Christian bookstore and check the verse numberings of the psalms.

(What’s this Tanakh thing? We Christians reorganize this Tanakh and refer to it as our Christian “Old Testament,” where the only substantive difference between the Tanakh and our Old Testament is this reorganization and, depending on whether our Christianity comes in Protestant, Roman, or Eastern flavor, the inclusion or not of a few additional books and a few fewer passages here and there.)

And here’s another by-the-way: Your Christian Bible may not mark and show this, but our Book of Psalms is itself divided into five interior books. Each of these books has its own general theme, plus its own introductory and concluding poems. Our Psalm 42 happens to fall as the first psalm in Book 2 of these five. Does this fact play into our observation that psalms 42 and 43 seem to be a single psalm?

For your further enjoyment and examination, here again are glued-together Psalms 42 and 43, this time from the Lexham English Bible and King James Version. Again we have stripped away verse numbers, marked our own stanza breaks, and not indicated where 42 ends and 43 begins. Is there a natural 42-to-43 separation point? Can you find it?

First, the LEB:

Lexham English Bible

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

As a deer longs for streams of water,
so my soul longs for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?

My tears have been my food day and night,
while they say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

These I remember and I pour out my soul within me:
that I would go with the multitude;
I led them in procession to the house of God,
with a voice of rejoicing and thanksgiving,
a crowd celebrating a festival.

Why are you in despair, O my soul,
and disturbed within me?
Hope in God, because I will again praise him,
for the salvation of his presence.

O my God, within me my soul is in despair;
therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan
and the heights of Hermon, from the mountain of Mizar.

Deep is calling to deep
at the thunder of your waterfalls.
All your breakers and your waves
have passed over me.

By day Yahweh commands his loyal love,
and in the night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God, my rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?”

As with a shattering in my bones
my oppressors taunt me,
while they say to me all day,
“Where is your God?”

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why are you disturbed within me?
Hope in God, because I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

Judge me, O God, and plead my case
against an unfaithful nation.
From a man of deceit and wickedness rescue me,

because you are the God of my refuge.
Why have you rejected me?
Why must I go about mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?

Send your light and your truth;
they shall lead me.
They shall bring me to your holy mountain
and to your dwelling places.

Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God, my surpassing joy,
and I will praise you with lyre,
O God, my God.

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why are you disturbed within me?
Hope in God, because I will again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

See anything?

Next, the KJV:

King James Version

[[To the chief Musician, Maschil, for the sons of Korah.]]

As the hart panteth after the water brooks,
so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

My soul thirsteth for God,
for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

My tears have been my meat day and night,
while they continually say unto me,
Where [is] thy God?

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.

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.

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.

Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts:
all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.
[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.

I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me?
why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
[As] with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me;
while they say daily unto me, Where [is] thy God?

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.

Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation:
O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.
For thou [art] the God of my strength:
why dost thou cast me off?
why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

O send out thy light and thy truth:
let them lead me;
let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.

Then will I go unto the altar of God,
unto God my exceeding joy:
yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul?
and why art thou disquieted within me?
hope in God: for I shall yet praise him,
[who is] the health of my countenance, and my God.


Bible Bits does not have anything further to offer regarding this apparent cleavage in what “should” have been a single Psalm 42, other than to say we find this sorta thing interesting, and that the more carefully and closely one reads the actual Bible, the more often one runs into curiosities like this.

Our Bible is fascinating! We love the word of God!


If you choose to reply, please cite scripture and let us know what your commentary says about the connection between these two psalms. And any other instances of apparent “mis-numbering.”

God’s blessings to you! We pray for you to experience the Lord’s grace and benevolence!

Please read the actual Psalms and all the rest of the Jewish and Christian and Protestant and Roman and Orthodox Christian scriptures for yourself. 🙂


If you’ve read this far, you might as well see Psalms 42 and 43 as presented by the (public domain) 1917 release of the JPS Tanakh. Our line and stanza spacing is not as published by the Jewish Publication Society, but we’ve left in the verse numbers and show the two poems separately, hopefully as God intends:

JPS Tanakh 1917

BOOK II
Psalm 42

1 For the Leader; Maschil of the sons of Korah.

2 As the hart panteth after the water brooks,
So panteth my soul after Thee, O God.

3 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God:
‘When shall I come and appear before God?’

4 My tears have been my food day and night,
While they say unto me all the day: ‘Where is Thy God?’

5 These things I remember, and pour out my soul within me, How I passed on with the throng, and led them to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and praise, a multitude keeping holyday.

6 Why art thou cast down, O my soul?
And why moanest thou within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise Him
For the salvation of His countenance.

7 O my God, my soul is cast down within me;
Therefore do I remember Thee from the land of Jordan,
And the Hermons, from the hill Mizar.

8 Deep calleth unto deep at the voice of Thy cataracts;
All Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over me.

9 By day the LORD will command His lovingkindness,
And in the night His song shall be with me,
Even a prayer unto the God of my life.

10 I will say unto God my Rock: ‘Why hast Thou forgotten me?
Why go I mourning under the oppression of the enemy?’

11 As with a crushing in my bones, mine adversaries taunt me;
While they say unto me all the day: ‘Where is Thy God?’

12 Why art thou cast down, O my soul?
And why moanest thou within me?
Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise Him,
The salvation of my countenance, and my God.

Psalm 43 ►

1 Be Thou my judge, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation;
O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.

2 For Thou art the God of my strength; why hast Thou cast me off?
Why go I mourning under the oppression of the enemy?

3 O send out Thy light and Thy truth; let them lead me;
Let them bring me unto Thy holy mountain, and to Thy dwelling-places.

4 Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God, my exceeding joy;
And praise Thee upon the harp, O God, my God.

5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul?
And why moanest thou within me?
Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise Him,
The salvation of my countenance, and my God.

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