Psalms 39–41: Woes & Wonders

Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 14: Wednesday

Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your Law is within my heart.”

Psalm 40:7–8

In Wednesday’s Bible reading of Psalms 39–41, there is a contrast between Psalm 39 and 40: in 39, David wants to guard his mouth with a muzzle and in 40, he says he will not restrain his lips. Why the difference?

In Psalm 39, David is in distress; Leslie M’Caw and J. T. Motyer write,

“The psalmist tells of his unavailing effort to keep his trouble to himself (vv.1–3). He then records the words of a prayer centring on the brevity of life and the seriousness of sin (vv. 4–11), and ends (vv. 12, 13) with a plea for divine mercy….

The decision to exercise a strict watch over all that he says and to refrain from complaint about his own distress was motivated by a fear of giving the wicked ground for attacking the honour of God….”1

As Christians we must be authentic; however, there are some struggles in which we desperately need another person to be there and listen to us. We may find ourselves in David’s dilemma; this is when we so need the presence of other believers who will have a ministry of love and empathy to us. We don’t want to dishonor God, and those who don’t know Him may take our heartache amiss. Other believers need to stand with us; their advice may not be needed, but their love is. Having other Christians help us and walk beside us can give us strength to continue, keep us from bitterness and enable us to bear up under our sorrow without giving way to sin.

In Psalm 40, David wants to speak because he wants to proclaim the wonders of God:

“I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
I have not concealed Your lovingkindness
and Your truth from the great congregation.”
Psalm 40:10

Finally, Psalm 41, speaks to the horrific circumstance of betrayal by a close friend. M’Caw and Motyer comment:

“The Lord Jesus Christ used the psalm to speak of His own experience (Jn. 13:18), and in the wonderful variety of Scripture it enshrines the not-uncommon experience of human disloyalty, and speaks for the comfort of those who suffer at the hands of friends.”2

There is so much in the psalms that speaks for our comfort. The emotions in the poetry of this book run the gamut of our own lives. Through His Word, God lets us know that we are not alone, and we are not the only ones to have gone through what we experience and feel what we feel. The Psalms are another testimony to His love for us at the lowest ebb of our lives.

Isaiah 42 Photograph: – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1, 2Leslie S. M’Caw and J. T. Motyer, “Psalms,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised,
D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., pp. 475, 477.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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