A Christian Perspective on Psalm 41

v1, David isn’t singing “Blessed is he that tells others that they need to help the poor.” Or “Blessed is he that votes for politicians who consider the poor… with other people’s money – rather than his own.” Neither is David singing “Give them money!” That is a western attitude. If we throw money at problems they will eventually go away. David doesn’t even mention money. The Hebew for “poor” here can mean scrawny, like the runt of the litter. We might ask, wouldn’t money help the weak or disadvantaged from birth? Not always. Because some people are genetically predisposed to addiction, when they get money they can waste it on drugs instead of paying rent. Money doesn’t solve problems by itself. That’s why David doesn’t talk directly – and certainly not solely – about giving the poor money. Rather, David wants us to consider them. To think of the best possible way to help them in their particular need. That may be money. It may be investing time to teach them life skills. It might be telling them what Jesus would do. It might be letting them stay at your place. It might be standing up for them and defending them before others. That’s why we’re encouraged to consider how best to help them. David needs to declare the blessing of this activity because the tendency of self-focused mankind is to ignore people like this. Yeah, they’re needy – but we have enough needs of our own. Or so the natural man tends to think. Sure, they’re helpless – but I myself am in need of great help! Well, you can think that – but you’re going to miss out on blessings from the Lord. 

v2-8, The blessings of preservation, prosperity, healing and integrity belong to God’s children who consider and help the poor in the way God directs them! The beauty of being a Christian, is that all those blessings actually are eternal.

v9,  The betrayal by a friend is prophesied here, and fulfilled in Christ, when Judas Iscariot takes the bread and dips it with Jesus. John 13:26-27. The timing of Satan’s entrance into the plans and heart of Judas is at this very moment. John chooses to use this Psalm as proof that Jesus knew what he was doing and did it willingly. John 13:18. Jesus knows what it feels like to have the people we help, turn around and abuse us. He will protect us and bring us through the abuse, triumphantly! He died for both the helper and the abuser, to one day be forgiven if we can both follow Jesus and make him our Lord,  this is love. Obey Christ’s commands to love one another, no matter what.

v10-12, The type of triumph we feel in overcoming temptation is both short lived and in Heaven a victory that we feel forever, This is what it means to “reign with Him”, Revelation 5:10 & 22:4-5.

v13,  Jesus as The Christ displayed Jehovah with us, and in his resurrection, Christ became Jehovah for us, Luke 1:75-78.  Praise Him no matter what happens! See Ephesians 1:3.

A Christian Perspective on Psalm 40

v1, Children and Adults have one big contrast in faith, the ability to wait. Adults can wait when they trust God to hear them and answer. Whereas children can not wait, so when adult believers show God patience in their requests to the point of crying, God responds! It is not just a mark of maturity, but it proves to yourself and our God, that we love His will more than our own will.

v2, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer” A rock was helpful to the ancient people of the east in three ways. 

  1. It could provide essential shade, needed in the merciless sun and heat of the desert (as in Isaiah 32:2). It’s shade was a soothing solace.
  2. Huge rocks can provide safe shelter from damaging winds,  It could provide shelter and protection in its cracks and crevasses (as in Exodus 33:22 and Proverbs 30:26).
  3. It could provide a firm place to stand and fight, as opposed to sinking sand (as in Psalm 40:2). David saw his God as his strength reminding us of the promise of secure safety, later expressed through Paul: Ephesians 6:10.

v3, The new song is sung because The Lord’s presence brings refreshing expressions of joy in victories over temptations of their sin, this rejoicing can help bring other people out of their sin and into a right relationship with Christ, Revelation 5:9 & 14:3.

v6-8, “Sacrifice & offering You did not desire, my ears you have opened”, David’s surrender to God was wonderful and an impressive example. Yet he only foreshadowed the ultimate submission to God carried out by the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Hebrews 10:5-10 quotes the Septuagint (ancient Greek) translation of Psalm 40:6-8. This is a wonderful and remarkable prophecy of the work of Jesus.  It shows God’s ultimate dissatisfaction in animal sacrifices, looking forward to a Perfect Sacrifice, because he didn’t desire them, Jesus willingly committed himself because it was what The Father desired. It shows that God the Son came in a prepared body (the Septuagint reads, But a body You have prepared for Me, Hebrews 10:5 and through to v7. God made and gave the best unique body to sacrifice that he could! v9, “I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness in the great assembly”, This was part of the new song and praise that came from his deliverance. David did not hold his praise back, it was PROCLAIMED. Yet, as in the previous verses, this has a far greater and perfect fulfillment in Jesus, the Son of David. It was true of Jesus in His earthly ministry. “This is what Jesus can say. He was the Princely Ruler of open-air preachers, the Greatest Itinerant of all preachers.”  It is also true of Jesus in eternity to come, in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You (Heb. 2:12 fulfilling Psa. 22:22). It’s remarkable to think of Jesus leading the assembly of God’s people in praise to God the Father!

A Christian Perspective on Psalm 37

v1-8,  Notice the hope & trust expressed in this praise, while contrasted with envy, v1, which progresses to worry, then to fretting and anger, then ending in evil, v8. This Psalm of David is certainly written in his old age, v25, and his wisdom shown in this praise is an example of how to answer the age old question by all of us: why do the wicked experience such pleasurable success while the righteous suffer? Jesus answers us in John 16:33 & 1st Jn. 4:4.

v9-11 is an introduction to v22, 29, 34 which is discussed in the Koran (21:105) where Psalm 37:29 is quoted verbatim. Jesus alluded to v29 in the sermon on the mount, Matthew 5:5, and it is still a well-known verse in the world. Worldly people largely misunderstand it, but it’s explanation is straightforward. To understand “inherit the earth”, we can look at Abraham’s faith in Jesus, and Paul’s teaching on Abraham, Romans 4:13. Yes Jesus lived out the faith of Abraham perfectly. The lifetime of Abraham’s faith led him to only own one parcel of ground, a burial place for his wife, Sarah. What kind of inheritance is that for the descendant of Abraham? Appropriately a different gravesite would figure most prominently in Christianity! The children of Abraham (Isaac & Jacob & Esau) would later bury Abraham himself with his wife Sarah, but of course their ancient gravesite near Hebron today has no significance to Christians now because we know only the dust of their corpse is there, their real identity is in Heaven. When the inheritance occurs for “the meek” as Jesus describes all the righteous people of God, it is then we will experience the glory of the new heaven and the new earth. But for now, because of what Jesus did at his gravesite, as the descendant of Abraham which blesses the world, we have spiritually attained this inheritance because of our faith in Christ, the seed of Abraham. In one sense faithful Christians already have inherited the earth, as being in Christ and he is now sovereign over it, Matthew 28:18, but not unbelieving worldly people, for now, they are the devil’s, Ephesians 6:12, John 8:44 & 1st Jn. 3:10.

v12-21 , Only the Lord can laugh at the wicked. Whereas we his subjects should empathize, because we once were wicked too. If a Christian can maintain and grow this attitude, we will succeed in evangelism. The crescendo of this Psalm, is v16, worthy of our memory work, and it’s sentiment is echoed in Matthew 6:32-33, Philippians 4:11-13 & 1st Timothy 6:6-8.

v22-34, when or if the Lord is upholding our hand, v24, disaster will never totally defeat us. Paul as a Christian understood this little victory led to a great eternal victory, read 2nd Cor. 4:7-10. Do you ever prayerfully picture the Lord upholding your hand? Could this poetic vision be in Paul’s mind when he wrote, 1st Timothy 2:8. God wants holy/clean hands to hold, James 4:8.

v35-40, The ultimate plight of the wicked is in stark contrast here in v35-36, to the present reality of the wicked from our perspective. Prison staff are constantly exposed to the injustice of “rehabilitating” the lives of some murderous thieves with a temporary “justice” system. This can be disheartening for the righteous, if we lose sight of the ultimate victory for the righteous. This passage should remind us that the justice of humanity at best, is inconsequential in the long run. We all should be waiting on the justice of the Lord in Jesus Christ. Never forget the eternal good news vision of His justice, Revelation 19:1-3

A Christian Perspective on Psalm 36

v1, The deep seated rebellion that is at the core of people who do not fear God, is how David describes lost humanity. Even the Apostle Paul made an effort to write poetically on the wickedness of humanity. Almost every part of a person is used to describe how saturated in sin, Paul views humanity in Romans 3:11-18. The mind in v11, the throat, tongue, mouth, feet and eyes, v18. All of this is rooted in a lack of fear towards God. Can you define godly fear as different from human fear?

v7 The “Precious” loyal love of the Lord is noteworthy. The same word for excellent or precious in the English is the same Hebrew word used for the expensive jewels placed on David’s crowned head, recorded in 2nd Samuel 12:30. God’s loyal covenant love is like a precious, rare, unique jewel. To find it, is to find something far better than any stone in this life. Much akin to the value Jesus puts on finding the Kingdom of God in Matthew 13:44-46, esteeming treasure and pearls as worth our utmost sacrifices to obtain. If this is your set of values. Therefore, the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings: Our God is a place of rest and protection for the people of God, who is the God of all comfort & mercy. God invites everyone of the children of men to find this resting place of trust in Him. Jesus used this phrase in the sense that a hen covers her young chicks under her wings to protect, hide, and shelter them. The picture of taking refuge in the shadow of thy wings was used of Ruth by Boaz (Ruth 2:12) and of Jerusalem by Jesus (Mt. 23:37) while undergoing the wrath of Judgment that was about to come upon it. 

v9,  In Your light we see light is similar in thought to the Apostle John’s idea in the opening words of the Gospel: Jesus was the true Light which gives light to every man (John 1:9) 

v12,  David catches a glimpse of the evil doers downfall as it points to fulfillment from this oracle. Sometimes we get to see this too, when evil people plot the downfall of the righteous; as Henry III of France was stabbed in the same chamber where he and others had contrived the Parisian massacre. The New Testament comes to a close in the Revelation with a statement about the continual sinfulness of this world, in the face of God’s victory, Revelation 22:11. The horrid end of Hitler & Hussein are similar.

A Christian Perspective from Psalm 35

v1-3, Learning that God can be viewed as having shields, a lance and a spear, may seem unsettling for some people, but David was at ease with the idea. Where did he get this idea? Perhaps it was from his miraculous defeat of Goliath with a single shot. Would David attribute the sling’s accuracy to God, or was the sling itself a weapon of God? However David came to believe in God’s activity in war, it is essential that we understand God has a sword, see Ephesians 6:17. 

v8. Let his net that he has hidden catch himself: David prayed that the guilty one would truly be caught in his own trap. David prayed that destruction would come upon his adversary unexpectedly. We can pray on the same principle against our spiritual adversaries, the principalities and powers that battle against us in the spiritual realm. The devil has “snares” or traps,(1 Timothy 3:7, 2 Timothy 2:26) and he has strategies or plans, (2 Corinthians 2:11) that are set against us. We may rightly pray that the devil’s children are caught in and by his own snares and strategies. Do you believe Jesus was correct in calling some people “children of satan”? See John 8:44, Matthew 13:38 & 1st John 3:8.

v11-12, They reward me evil for good: “This was never more literally true of King David, than it was for the divine Christ Jesus, when, standing before Pontius Pilate, he received no other reply from the Jews, for all the gracious words which he had spoken, and all the powerful works of mercy which he had done among them, than that of being slandered, and put to death.

v19,  Who hate me without a cause: “Jesus identified with those who suffer without apparent cause, because he applies the words of Psalm 35:19 (Psalm 69:4) to himself (John 15:25).”

They devise deceitful matters against the quiet ones in the land: David prayed for vindication against his enemies because they plotted against God’s humble, simple people.The German Lutheran Bible translates the phrase the quiet ones in the land as die Stillen im Lande. It later became a phrase to describe believers in Germany, especially those from the Pietistic tradition. They emphasized living a quiet, devoted life of peace before God and man, and trusting God to defend them. It seems in every age of history, God has had his “quiet ones”, ignoring the noise & strife of the world and withdrawn from godless ambitions, they are unshaken by worldly headlines, because they have entered into the secret of an abundant life hidden in Christ Jesus, Jn. 10:10. Remember the command of Christ, “from the rooftops”! (Matthew 10:27). There was a time in the ministry of Jesus, when he needed to keep his Messiahship quiet, but towards the latter, he mandated public proclamation and then sent disciples out throughout the entire world to SHOUT.  Should Christians remain quiet?

A Christian Perspective on Psalm 34

There are at least seven lessons in this Psalm. It is an acrostic (Alphabetic) Psalm where in Hebrew each line begins with the successive Hebrew letter. However, it is irregular. One letter (vau) is missing and another (pe) is repeated. There are only a few Psalms written in this style, many Rabbis say they are primarily used for teaching children, as well as praise. The title says, “A Psalm of David when he pretended madness before Abimelech (King Achish) who drove him away, and he departed.” This refers to the events of 1 Samuel 21:10-15 where David, because he was afraid, acted like he was crazy before Achish, the king of Gath. The Psalm does not indicate any attempt to vindicate David’s action. In fact, in the Psalm, David makes no comment about his conduct. He merely recalls his feelings at the time of his deliverance. 

A. The point of the Psalm is to praise Jehovah as our provider, protector, and deliverer. God gives us in this Psalm many good reasons for trusting Him while in trouble, so that we grow courageous for the next trial that comes our way, to see how God helps us.

B.  Fear must be taught (v. 11). If we fear God, we have been taught to fear God. If we want our children to fear God, we must teach them to fear God. When we wonder why some of our children have no use for God or his word, we would do well to consider that maybe we didn’t teach them to fear God.

C. What it means to fear God. The term “fear” is equated with several other expressions. These terms serve as a commentary on what is involved in fearing God, v. 8 describes one who “trusts in him.” v10 says “seek the Lord.”  v15 calls this one “righteous.” v22 says he is a servant.

D. The Lord protects those who fear him (v. 7, 15, 17, 19). The Lord cares about his people. He delivers them from their troubles.

E. The Lord blesses those who fear him (v. 8-10). God gives us all that we need (2 Pet. 1:3). There is no promise that the Lord will give us all we want. He did promise that he would grant all we need. While the young lion may hunger, his people will not lack any good thing (v. 10).

F. Those who fear God are those who really enjoy life (v. 12). Those who seek pleasure from life without the fear of God, have no idea of what lasting joy is. 

G. God listens to those who fear him (v. 15-22). What a privilege to have God’s ear tuned to our request! Such an honor is not granted to just anyone. It is an honor bestowed only on those who fear God. (1st Peter 3:12)

John the disciple Jesus loved, was keen to show how in reality, Jesus was indeed the Lamb of God, fulfilled in David’s messianic prophecy, Psa. 34:20. Moses commanded that when a lamb was sacrificed, (Ex. 12:46) none of the bones should be broken, indeed the care taken in it’s death was shown through the careful guidance God had in giving his Son as The Lamb, ensuring not a bone was broken, John 19:36. How could this be achieved while undergoing all the savage inhumanity inflicted on Jesus’ body? God is in control, and is our Deliverer. The resurrection was in sight all the while, and indeed with perfect timing, a reality.

A Christian Perspective on Psalm 32

Historians have pointed out that from the 4th century AD, the famous theologian Augustine, had this Psalm inscribed on his bedroom wall to help him memorize it better. Augustine claimed it as one of his favorite Psalms. It is very much in tune with Psalm 51, where a soul can rejoice in the wonders of God’s grace & mercy dealing with sin, comforting sorrow and instructing the ignorant. The word “Maskil” in the title is sometimes translated by Rabbi’s to mean “instruction”, and there are at least a dozen Psalms that have this word as part of the title. So here we know God expects us to learn something from His praise, read Colossians 3:16, and anticipate The Teacher’s instruction!

v1. David had plenty of opportunities to know the blessed refreshment of forgiveness in his own life. Israel’s great King – a man after God’s heart – nevertheless had some significant seasons of sin and spiritual decline. Notable among these were David’s deceitful time at Ziklag (1 Samuel 27, 29, 30) and wrongful murders (27:8-12). It was when David had a lot of mouths to feed with his mighty men and running for his life while King Saul chased him, besides, there weren’t a lot of job openings in Ziklag. So they began making guerrilla raids on the pagan villages. There were times in Israel’s history when God ordered His men to wipe out certain pagan groups as judgment for their sin. But God didn’t command David to do that here. David was acting on his own. These villagers were apparently allies with Achish. David didn’t want them talking. So he slaughtered them all and then lied to Achish so that he thought David was attacking Jewish villages. He’s playing a dangerous con game. When wrong thinking leads you into wrong actions and wrong company, then you feel compelled to engage in more wrong actions to cover your tracks and to maintain your lifestyle. Whenever a person gets snared by sin, there is always deception, both the sinner deceiving others and deceiving himself by rationalizing his sin: But you are just digging yourself deeper!

Then there was David’s personal sin with Bathsheba and public sin against Uriah (2 Samuel 11). After these incidents, David came to confession, repentance, and felt forgiveness so real, that he was moved not only to fast, but by God’s Spirit, to sing about it. We are blessed to have his written lyrics maintained for millenia to enjoy.  David knew what it was like to be a guilty sinner. He knew the seriousness of sin and how good it is to be truly forgiven. He knew – as Paul would later state in Romans 4:6-8 – the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from our own works. If David were judged on works alone, then The Righteous God must condemn him; nevertheless he knew by experience, blessed is he whose trespasses are forgiven, whose sin is covered. The psalmist declares that the forgiveness of sin, of whatever kind of sin, whether against God or man, whether great or small, whether deliberate or accidental, or whether by omission or commission, real total forgiveness is to be found in our God, Jesus Christ. Our challenge is to emulate Him, Eph. 4:32-5:1-2

v5,  Real, deep, true confession of sin has been a feature of every genuine new birth as we awaken spiritually to be alive in Christ. As demonstrated by the revival in Ephesus recorded in Acts 19:17-20. But there are too many who make confession, having no broken hearts, no humbled spirits. Know this, that even if there be ten thousand confessions, if they are made by hardened hearts, if they do not spring from sorrowful spirits, they are only additions to our guilt as they are just deep hidden mockeries of the Almighty’s offer to forgive the repentant, not the unrepentant. Integrity is everything!