“Summaries, Psalms 39-43”Categories: Bulletin Articles
Psalm 39 describes David’s struggle with human wickedness. He begins so concerned about his own sinful speech that he resolves not to speak at all in the presence of the wicked. However, it’s so painful holding his thoughts in that he ends up speaking anyway, not to the wicked, but to God. He urges God to help him understand his own mortality and comparative impermanence. All of mankind is equally impermanent. As a result, he puts his trust in God to rescue him from sin rather than continuing to punish him. If God does not deliver him soon, it will be too late.
Psalm 40 expresses David’s rejoicing in God’s deliverance. He waited, God rescued him, put him in a safe place, and gave him reason to praise Him. Anyone who trusts in God is blessed because God regards people like that. As a result, David offered himself to God and glorified Him. Now, he is confident that despite his desperate situation, God still will deliver him. He looks forward to seeing God disappoint those who want to see him suffer, but he expects that God will give those who seek Him reason to rejoice.
Psalm 41 explains the importance of generosity. God will protect those who are gracious to the poor, even when they are ill. This is particularly important to David, because his enemies are expecting him to die and gossiping about him. David’s illness has led even his close friends to turn against him. However, David knows that God will deliver him and show His delight in him.
Psalms 42-43 were originally the same psalm, but for some reason were divided up when the book of Psalms was organized. However, even now, their original unity is obvious. The original psalm was structured like one of our gospel hymns, with verses and a chorus. Psalm 42:1-4 is the first verse, 42:5a is the chorus, 42:5b-10 is the second verse, 42:11 is the chorus again, 43:1-4 is the third verse, and 43:5 is the final repetition of the chorus.
Content-wise, the combined psalm is about the psalmist’s suffering and hope for deliverance. He longs for God like a deer pants for water (Our hymn “As the Deer” is taken from this psalm, though it’s much more optimistic in tone than the original). He’s suffering and lonely, and he yearns for God’s deliverance. However, he tells his soul not to be miserable because he knows that God will rescue him eventually.
The second verse adds more information about the suffering of the psalmist. His situation is so bad that he feels like he’s drowning, he feels like God has forgotten him, and his enemies are mocking him because God hasn’t rescued him. However, he continues to counsel his soul to peace.
The concluding verse of the original, in Psalm 43, asks God to rescue the psalmist from his enemies and wants to know why he continues to suffer. He pleads with God to bring him to His temple so he can praise Him. Once again, though, he urges his soul to be still because he trusts in God.