April 8, 2015.
Daily Reading: Psalm 39-41.
Background: Psalm 36-38.
Concepts and Connections.
Life is short: In this psalm, David beings with a held tongue and a muzzled spirit, not asking the Lord how many were the number of his days on the earth. But when he could not hold his peace for any longer, he cries out to the Lord and asks him to reveal to him how long he had, as it seems he was going through a time of trouble and vexation. He knows that life is short, and the span of man’s days is but a handbreadth (see James 4:14), but he does not know how long he will be in distress, or if it will continue until the day he departs form this earth. The psalmist cries out for the forgiveness of his transgressions, for he knows that they are great, and he likely attributes his present distress to them. It seems to him that the hand of the Lord is against him at every place, and he asks for it to be removed that he might live out his few days in peace. Sometimes we indeed feel that God is against us, and that everything that is happening is due to our sinful nature. Let us learn to trust in the Lord, make our heart right with Him and live with the peace that He gives, which passes all understanding (see Philippians 4:7).
A cry to the Lord: This psalm reveals a relationship between the psalmist and the Lord, with many praise given to the Lord for His continuing deliverance. We see that the psalmist trust fully in the Lord whom he loves, and his heart is on His law night and day. But the relationship is so much more than the law, as the psalmist says “In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.” This passage is quoted in Hebrews 10:5-7, in the context of Christ taking away the old covenant, which used the blood of bulls and goats that could not take away sin, that He might establish the second, which was based on His blood as the perfect sacrifice, once for all. Christ indeed came to begin a relationship with us, a relationship similar to the one seen in this psalm. The Lord is our strength and deliverer, and it is to Him that we cry with our petitions, desires and praise.
“Oh Lord, be gracious.”: This is a psalm of repentance and humility before the Lord. The Lord looks in favor on those who strive to do His will, such as those who seek deliverance for the poor, and the psalmist cries out because of his transgression. His enemies close in tight about him, but the psalmist knows that the Lord can deliver him from their hand, to lift him up so that he might prevail over them. He trusts in the relationship he has with the Lord God of Israel, and he knows that he has held his heart in integrity. Thus he asks for the grace of the Lord, and trusts that it will be given to him. However, in the middle of this psalm, there is a prophecy that is so subtly made. In verse nine, the psalmist talks of the betrayal from a close friend. This passage is cited in John 13:18, when Jesus reveals to the disciples that one of them would betray Him that the scripture may be fulfilled. But just as the psalm ends, this betrayal would not hinder the plan of God, but rather Jesus would be triumphant in the end, raising from the grave on the third day to defeat both sin and death, and to give us a hope of everlasting salvation. Praise be to His name.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Job 27-29.
Blessed be the Lord God, forever and ever, amen.