Week 13: Psalms 39-41


Reading: Psalms 39-41

           Click on the link for the reading to read the Psalms for this week.  As we read, let us not do so in haste.  Take time to read each Psalm at least three times:  once to understand the content, once as a poem or song to feel the meaning, and once as a prayer to appropriate the Psalm into your life.   There will often be a hymn attached at the bottom of the page that helps bring meaning to one of the Psalms for the week.


PSALM 39: I Am a Sojourner on Earth

            Psalm 39 is unique—some even call it strange.  It appears to be asking God to save the psalmist from the general condition of human transience. At the end, the psalmist tells God to “look away from me” so that I might have some relief and a bit more life.  Perhaps this is the prayer of someone critically ill who, in the belief of the day, considered illness to be the consequence of sin.  As Christians, we embrace the concept of sojourner on earth.  Christ’s death and resurrection change our outlook to an eager and joyful contemplation of an eternity in God’s presence.


PSALM 40: I Delight to Do Your Will

            Verses 1-10 are a song of thanksgiving for a past deliverance.  Verse 11 provides a transition and verses 12-17 are a prayer for deliverance.  The movement from thanksgiving to urgent petition is instructive.  It suggests that, whether individually or corporately, we always pray out of need, at least in the sense that no deliverance is final in this mortal life.  With each new deliverance comes a new threat, imposed perhaps by our own shortcomings (v. 12) or by external sources.


PSALM 41:  Happy are Those Who Consider the Poor

            At the heart of Psalm 41 lies a prayer for help (vv. 4-10).  It appears from verse 4 that the complaint describes something the psalmist said during a past situation of distress.  Most scholars feel that this is a psalm of thanksgiving for that past deliverance.  In John 13:18, Judas’s betrayal of Jesus is interpreted as a fulfillment of Psalm 41:9b.  Thus, this psalm illuminated for the Gospel writers the suffering of Jesus.  Judas’s betrayal was motivated, in part at least, by greed, so that he became a representation of the enemies who throughout the psalms seek to take advantage of the humble and the afflicted.  As Judas’s destiny suggests, the way of self-aggrandizement is the way of death.  Jesus becomes the ultimate paradigm of the faithful sufferer, who entrusts life and future to God and who likewise considers the poor.








This is the Psalm in hymn form.  Read or sing it through with melody to give the Psalm another dimension. 








Here is a video clip of Psalm 40 with a slightly different version of the song.



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