Saturday, July 24, 2010

Psalm 40

Waiting patiently for the Lord (vs. 1-3)--Good things usually happen when we do, and David mentions four of them in the first three verses: He hears (v. 1), He brings us out of a "horrible pit" and sets us upon a firm foundation (v. 2), and He puts a new song in our mouths, i.e., a new reason for living (v. 3). As a result, "many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord" (v. 3). Waiting patiently is not something most of us are good at; but we simply must have the faith to let God work out things in our lives according to His will.

The wonderful works of God (vs. 4-5)--For the man "who makes the Lord his trust" (v. 4), there are many wonderful works of God that open up to his vista. Verse 5 is lovely: "Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; and Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered." Our blessings are countless and innumerable; indeed, we don't even begin to know all of the things the Lord does for us. His works are truly wonderful. But only open eyes can see them.

The work of the Messiah (vs. 6-10)--These verses certainly refer to the Messiah; at least verses 6-8, because the writer of the book of Hebrews tells us so (Hebrews 10:5-9). Verse 6 is a frequent theme in both the Old Testament and New. While God does expect and demand worship, without a pure heart such worship is vain. The prophets speak almost endlessly of this (see Isaiah 1:10ff; Jer. 7:1-4; Amos 5:21-24). Verse 7 cannot refer to David: "Then I said, 'Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me.'" And, again, the New Testament tells us these verses apply to Jesus. He certainly taught the word of God at every opportunity (vs. 9-10).

A final prayer (vs. 11-17)--We seem to return strictly to David in this section; verse 12, "My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head," can hardly apply to Jesus. David prays for the Lord's "tender mercies," and "lovingkindness" (v. 11); those are what he believes will save him from the "innumerable evils" that had surrounded him, and his own sins (v. 12). Whereas earlier in the psalm, David counsels patient waiting on Jehovah, in verse 13, he pleads, "O Lord, make haste to help me!" Verses 14-16 give us another grand example of "palilogical parallelism": "Let them be ashamed...let them be driven backward...let them be confounded...let all those who seek you...let such as love your salvation..." Again, this is for ease of memorization. David wants his enemies baffled and defeated, and all those who seek the Lord to rejoice, be glad, and praise Him. The Lord is our help and deliverer, yet David ends the psalm by again requesting, "do no delay, O my God." Well, David, follow your own advice of verse one and "wait patiently." But the human element, always so plain in the Psalms, is in evidence here. While we (and David) know that we should wait for the Lord's deliverance, which will come in His time, not ours, we still hope and pray that He will act soon. Thoughts such as this are what make the Psalms so valuable. They teach us grand lessons about the nature and actions of Jehovah, but they speak in such human language as well.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Psalm 39

Meditation (vs. 1-3a)--I think the key to this section is found in the first part of verse 3 "While I was musing..."  David wasn't speaking, he was thinking.  "I will restrain my mouth...I was mute with silence, I held my peace" (vs. 1-2).  He was grieving for some reason (v. 2), and grief that burned in his heart (v. 3).  He appeared to be meditating on life itself.

The results of his meditation (vs. 3b-6)--David finally speaks up, talking to the Lord, and indeed, he is considering the futility of life.  He speaks of the frailty (v. 4), the brevity (v. 5), and the vanity of this earthly existence.  "Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor" (v. 5).  It's a good lesson for all of us to learn.  It doesn't matter if a man "heaps up riches" (v. 6); somebody else will enjoy them--he "does not know who will gather them." 

The heavy hand of the Lord (vs. 7-13)--And even though our only hope is in the Lord (v. 7), it does seem, at times, that even He is against us.  At times like that, we are most aware of our sins (v. 8). "Remove Your plague from me; I am consumed by the blow of Your hand" (v. 10).  Jehovah rebukes us and man's "beauty melt[s] away like a moth."  Again, "surely every man is vapor" (v. 11).  David asks the Lord to deliver him from his transgressions, and to not make him a reproach (v. 8).  Even when David had nothing to say, "it was You who did it" (v. 9).  Once more we see how involved in his life David believes the Lord to be.  All that happens to him he attributes to God.  The king had a very strong sense of God's abiding presence.  Sometimes David felt that God was close, but in this psalm, "I am a stranger with You, a sojourner, as all my fathers were" (v. 12).  So he pleads for God to hear his prayer and see his tears, though he wants Him to "remove Your gaze from me, that I may regain strength, before I go away and am no more" (v. 13).  Whatever the current circumstances were, they caused David to examine life in general, realize its brevity and vanity, and that God can make our lives difficult, but only He can deliver us (v. 8).