Learning from Psalms 33-41
33:1-22- ‘Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous’(1). We have plenty of good reasons for rejoicing in the Lord. He opens His heart to us, making known ‘the thoughts of His heart to all generations’(11). In His heart, there is love for us - ‘the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord’(5). He speaks to us of His love. Listening to His voice of love, our joy increases as we learn to trust in His Word - ‘the Word of the Lord is right and true’- and rest in His faithfulness - ‘He is faithful in all He does’(4). We have good cause to say, ‘Our heart is glad in Him’(20). Think of God’s love - His heart of love, His purpose of love, His Word of love. Let His love touch your heart and change your life. May His love cause each of us to pray from the heart: ‘May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord’(22).
34:1-22- Looking to the Lord, we are ‘radiant’ He has ‘delivered’ us. He has ‘saved’ us (4-6). Rejoicing in God’s salvation, we say, ‘I will bless the Lord at all times’(1). We call upon others to worship the Lord with us - ‘O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together!’(3). We invite them to trust in the Lord and come to know the joy of His salvation - ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!’(8). We encourage them to keep on hearing the Word of the Lord so that they may learn to walk with God - ‘Come, O sons, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord’(11). We seek to lead people on to spiritual maturity. We say to them, ‘Depart from evil, and do good’, praying that they will become ‘mature’, ‘trained by practice to know the difference between good and evil’(14; Hebrews 5:14).
35:1-28- The Psalmist prays, ‘Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me!’(1). Jesus says, ‘In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’(John 16:33). Paul rejoices in the Lord`s victory - ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’(Romans 8:31). How do we know that God is for us? How do we know that the victory is ours in Christ? We read the words of John 3:16 - ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son...’- and we say, with the Psalmist, ‘Then my soul shall rejoice in the Lord, exulting in His deliverance’(9). We read the words of 1 Corinthians 15:57 - ‘Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’- and we say, with the Psalmist, ‘I will thank Thee...I will praise Thee...all the day long’(18,2,8).
36:1-12- Read about God’s ‘steadfast love’ and rejoice in Him: ‘Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens...How precious is Your steadfast love, O God!...O continue Your steadfast love to those who know You...’(5,7,10). Rejoicing in the Lord’s ‘steadfast love’ is quite different from taking His love for granted. We dare not say, “God loves me. I can do what I like”. We must not become like the wicked - ‘there is no fear of God before his eyes’(1). Where there is true rejoicing in God’s ‘steadfast love’, there will also be ‘the fear of the Lord’ which ‘is the beginning of wisdom’(111:10). A real appreciation of God’s ‘steadfast love’ brings with it a real awareness of our own sinfulness. Knowing how much God loves us leads us to pray, ‘Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away’(11).
37:1-40- Those who ‘trust in the Lord...will dwell in the land’. Those who turn from Him will ‘perish’(3,20). Through faith in Christ, we look ahead to ‘a heavenly country’, ‘better’ than anything we will know on earth (Hebrews 11:16; Philippians 3:20). We have caught sight of ‘a happy land, far, far away, where saints in glory stand, bright, bright as day’. We have heard the sound of their song - ‘O how they sweetly sing, “Worthy is our Saviour King!”’. We lift our voices to the Lord - ‘Loud let His praises ring, praise, praise for aye’. Still, some are perishing. They have not come to Christ for salvation. To them, we say, ‘Come to this happy land, come, come away; Why will ye doubting stand? Why, still delay?’(Revised Church Hymnary, 587). Trust in the Lord now and look forward to being with Him in heaven.
38:1-22- What a sorry state of affairs we have here! - ‘My guilt has overwhelmed me. Like a heavy load, it is more than I can bear’(4). What are we to do when things are going from bad to worse? What are we to do when everything seems to be falling apart? We must do what the Psalmist does - ‘I wait with hope for You, O Lord’(15). The Psalmist was ‘completely devastated’. His ‘heart was in turmoil’. He looked to his friends for help, but they were not there - ‘My loved ones and friends keep their distance’(8,11). Despised and forsaken by his friends, there was only one thing for it - ‘Take it to the Lord in prayer’. There is ‘a Friend so faithful’. He ‘knows our every weakness’. He ‘will share all our sorrows’. This Friend is Jesus. He will be there for us when there’s nowhere else to go (Mission Praise, 746).
39:1-13- Some live to a ripe old age. Some die young. How does God view our time on this earth? - This is what the Psalmist says, ‘My life span is nothing compared with Yours’(5). The quality of our living is more important than the quantity of our years. “How am I living?’- This is the question of quality. It is more important than the question of quantity - “How long have I lived?”. “What am I doing with my life?”- This is the question each of us must answer. Life is not only about survival - living for a long time. It is about revival - living in the light of eternity. The Psalmist asks the question - ‘Lord, what am I waiting for?’. He gives his answer - ‘My hope is in You’(7). Let us live as ‘citizens of heaven’- ‘We look forward to the Lord Jesus Christ coming from heaven as our Saviour’(Philippians 3:20).
40:1-17- We have been saved by the Lord: ‘He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my feet secure’(2). He calls us to a life of worship and witness. We are to worship Him with ‘a new song...a song of praise to our God’(3). We are to be His witnesses, sharing with others the Good News of His salvation: ‘I have not hid Thy saving help within my heart, I have spoken of Thy faithfulness and Thy salvation...’(10). God has given out His call to worship and witness. May our response be like the Psalmist’s: ‘I delight to do Thy will, O my God’. Let us worship the Lord - ‘Great is the Lord’. Let us be His witnesses - ‘I have told the glad news of deliverance’. Let us pray for the Lord’s help: ‘let Thy steadfast love and Thy faithfulness ever preserve me!’(8,16,9,11).
41:1-13- What do you do when everything seems to be going wrong? Do you forget about God? That’s the worst thing you can do? That’s just asking for trouble! Our problems are bad enough - with God’s help. Things can only get worse - if we turn away from the Lord. When the going gets tough, we must turn to the Lord. Share your ‘day of trouble’ with the Lord. Let Him come to you with His blessing (1-3). Satan is busy, trying to draw you away from the Lord. It is only through the strength of the Lord that you will be able to say, with confident faith, ‘my enemy has not triumphed over me’(11). Look up from your problems to your Lord. Let Him fill your heart with praise - ‘Blessed be the Lord...’(13). Let this be your testimony: ‘When no one but Christ could help, Love lifted me!’(Mission Praise, 450).