Psalm 46 Meaning

Let’s open our Bibles to Psalm 46 to discover the Psalm 46 meaning.

Psalm 46 has been a joy for me to study. And I trust it will be a blessing to you as we go through it.

Studying the psalms has been really enjoyable for me, because there’s always something new. And from lesson to lesson I never know quite what I’m going to discover in my studies that I can then bring to our assembly.

And for the psalm before us right now – Psalm 46 – the real surprise to me has been how applicable this psalm is to a certain time period in the history of the world. And that time period would be the end of the Great Tribulation into the Millennial – the thousand year – reign of Jesus Christ.

And I’ve almost been suspicious that perhaps I’m reading too much into the psalm. And yet, in order to avoid the Millennial implications of this psalm, I would really have to try very hard – really to the point of dishonesty.

So, instead of doing that, we’ll let the Bible speak and receive it as it is and try our best to understand it and rejoice in its truth right now.

So, let’s start by examining the superscription to this psalm…

<[To/For] the [chief Musician/choir director]
[for/a psalm of/by] the [sons of Korah/Korahites],
[A Song upon/Set to/According to the style of] Alamoth.>

So, this is one of 55 psalms that are addressed to “the chief Musician.” (FYI: The others are 4-6,8-9,11-14,18-22,31,36,39-42,44-47,49,51-62,64-70,75-77,80-81,84-85,88,109,139-140)

This is also one of 11 psalms that are said to be “for the sons of Korah.” (FYI: The others are 42,44-49,84-85,87-88)

But one thing this psalm doesn’t share with any other psalm is this mention of it being “upon Alamoth.” The one other place where that phrase is mentioned is in the context of bringing the Ark of the Covenant up to Jerusalem from Obed-Edom’s house under the reign of King David. There, some men tuned their harps to this style of music. The term literally means “young women” which has made some think that perhaps this was a tune that required high voices – like the voices of sopranos.

And so, this song – that is to be set to this tune of Alamoth for or by the sons of Korah to be performed by the chief Musician – begins like this.

KJV Psalm 46:1 God is our [refuge and strength/strong refuge],
[a very present/he is truly our] [help/helper] in [i.e., times of…] trouble.

So, the psalmist is declaring that in his estimation, he considers God to be his strong refuge.

A refuge is something you can escape to for safety.

And – you know – this world has its refuges. People who reject God can try to take refuge in an altered state of mind through the abuse of alcohol and drugs. Money can appear to be a refuge to those without Christ. It seems to protect people from trouble.

And yet, these refuges will not stand the test. These refuges that men run to in times of trouble will fold – they do fold.

But not God. God is a strong refuge. We can escape to him when we’re in danger and he is there for us.

And that’s because – unlike the world’s refuges – God is able to do something about the things that are troubling us. He is a very present help in trouble.

Well, what kind of trouble are we talking about? What kind of trouble does God provide refuge from?

Nature Disturbed

And that’s where the psalmist is going to point to mankind’s tendency to fear when natural disasters strike in verses 2 and 3 as the particular trouble he’s thinking about.

2 [Therefore/For this reason] [will/do] not we fear,
[though/when] the earth [be removed/should change/shakes],
and though the mountains [be carried/slip/tumble] into the [midst/heart/depths] of the sea;

3 Though the [waters/waves] thereof [roar/crash] and [be troubled/foam],
though the mountains [shake/quake] [with the swelling thereof/at its swelling pride/before the surging sea].

Selah.

Now, if the term selah as some suggest marks a crescendo – then this would be it. Picture what the psalmist is envisioning. Earth, mountains, and waters all in an uproar all at the same time. If you were to find yourself in a situation in which all this was happening at once, you would be terrified.

And yet – even if this terrible combination of events were to be taking shape around you – you and I can feel the strength and the help of our God who is our refuge in times of distress. Even in times of natural disasters.

And this is where we would start to do a disservice to the entire Scripture if we failed to remember that Jesus Christ warned us that there is coming a time when things like what the psalmist just mentioned will happen. There will be great earthquakes. People will be perplexed by the roaring of the sea and its waves. That’s all according to Luke chapter 21.

And Revelation 6:14 describes a scene of the end times in which mountains are moved out of their places.

So, we can look at Psalm 46 and leave it in the realm of metaphor – but we have a good deal of evidence that these kinds of things will literally happen.

And they will happen during the Great Tribulation. And so, I think we’re starting to get the picture that this psalm will be sung by those who enter the Millennium from the Tribulation.

They’ll be joyfully praising God – “He is our strong refuge! He has been to us a very present help in the trouble and tribulation we’ve gone through! In fact, we’ve seen great earthquakes, mountains moving from their places, and the sea roaring – but we could be fearless because of our strong protecting God!

Nature at Peace

Well, moving on, the author of this psalm really seems to enjoy going from one extreme of – on the one hand – chaos and danger and disorder to – on the other – peace and tranquility and serenity – all because of God being our refuge.

And so, we saw the temptation to fear caused by a multitude of natural disasters. And that’s now followed up by a picture of a peaceful quiet river flowing through the city of God in verses 4 and 5.

4 There is a river, the [streams/channels] whereof [shall make glad/bring joy to] the city of God,
the holy [place of the tabernacles/dwelling places] of the [most High/sovereign One].

5 God [is in the midst of her/lives within it];
[she/it] [shall not/cannot] be moved: [i.e., in contrast to the mountains and earth, etc.…]

God [shall help her/rescues it],
[and that right early/when morning dawns/at the break of dawn].

So, what a contrast we have. After the raging of nature – which we don’t fear because God is our refuge – now we have the calm and serene scene of a river flowing through God’s city. And the streams of this river make that city glad. Not anxious and fearful – like the scene we just left earlier. But glad.

And this city is the place which houses these “holy tabernacles” or dwelling places “of the most High.” And because of that “God is in the midst of her.” He dwells there in those tabernacles or dwelling places.

And because of that, this city “shall not” and cannot “be moved.” And it’s that way because God – who’s in the midst of that city – will defend it. He will “help” it “right early.” And that’s a picture of help for this city when morning dawns or when dawn breaks. In other words – right away.

What City is Made Glad?

Now, I think we’re all wondering – what city is the psalmist speaking of? You might assume he’s talking about Jerusalem. After all, that’s where the holy dwelling places of God were in the Old Testament.

And I think that’s right. He’s speaking of Jerusalem.

And yet, there’s one problem with identifying this city as Jerusalem.

Jerusalem has no rivers.

There’s the Jordan River off to the east about 20 miles. But it’s kind of hard to imagine that he’s speaking of that river that’s so far away making glad God’s city.

Let me put it in terms that might be helpful for us. Our church in Whitewater, WI here is 20 miles away from Rock Lake in Lake Mills. It’s about 20 miles away from Phantom Lake in Mukwonago. And it’s about 20 miles away from Geneva Lake in Williams Bay/Lake Geneva. The same distance that Jerusalem is from the Jordan River.

It would be strange to think of Rock Lake or Phantom Lake or Geneva Lake making glad the city of Whitewater. The distance is too great.

And I think the same would hold true for Jerusalem and the Jordan River. They’re just too far away from each other to be correlated like that.

So, how do we make sense of what the psalmist is saying here? He’s saying that Jerusalem will be made glad by a river.

And this is where the Millennial emphasis of this psalm really starts to get unavoidable.

This is a prophetic reference and it’s looking forward to Jerusalem in the Millennium.

Actually, twice in Scripture we hear of a river flowing from Jerusalem. Once in the Millennial Jerusalem and once in the New Jerusalem.

River in Millennial Jerusalem

Millennial Jerusalem is revealed to us in Ezekiel 47. So, let’s turn there.

In Ezekiel 47 we’re in the middle of the prophet Ezekiel being led around by an angelic figure and being shown a future temple – so it can’t be Solomon’s temple, of course, which was in the past from Ezekiel’s time reference.

Further, this temple in Ezekiel is not the temple constructed by the returned exiles after the Babylonian Captivity. Neither is it the temple constructed by Herod the Great.

How do we know that? Well, let’s read what Ezekiel is shown in his vision to see if it sounds anything like these other temples. We’ll read verses 1 through 12 of Ezekiel 47.

KJV Ezekiel 47:1 ¶ Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the [house/temple]; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar.

2 Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side.

3 ¶ And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles.

That’s about 1,500 ft east of the Temple Mount which would be right about at the base of the Mount of Olives…

 4 Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees.

That’s about 3,000 ft east of the Temple Mount, which is the spot where tourists usually stop to take a look at the Temple Mount from a high spot on the Mount of Olives…

Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins.

By the way, this is about 4,500 ft east of the Temple Mount, which is right on top of the Mount of Olives – really close to the biblical city of Bethphage. Now, water doesn’t flow up mountains. So, how is this water going to be flowing up this mountain? The answer: It won’t. Remember – at the end of the Tribulation, according to Zechariah 14:4, Jesus Christ’s feet will touch the Mount of Olives and split it west to east, creating a huge valley. That’s how this water is going to be flowing east out of the Temple like we’re seeing here…

 5 Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over.

And this is about 6,000 ft east of the Temple Mount, which is about where the Mount of Olives currently starts sloping down toward the Dead Sea…

 6 ¶ And he said unto me,

Son of man, hast thou seen this?

Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river.

7 Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other.

8 Then said he unto me,

These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.

And so, in other words, this water coming from the temple in the Millennium will go east through the new valley hewn into the Mount of Olives – past where it currently starts to descend toward the Dead Sea and it will make the salt water of the Dead Sea non-salty…

 9 And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: [i.e., which currently doesn’t happen in the DEAD Sea – but will in the Millennium…] and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.

10 And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi [i.e., which is on the western shore of the Dead Sea – about 23.5 miles southeast of Jerusalem…] even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea [i.e., Mediterranean Sea…], exceeding many.

11 But the [miry places/swamps] [thereof/of the river] and the marishes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt.

12 And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for [meat/food], whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof [be consumed/wither]: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for [meat/food], and the leaf thereof for [medicine/healing].

So, Ezekiel sees this vision of a river flowing from the Temple in Jerusalem. This is the Millennial Temple.

And with the water flowing from that Temple changing the Dead Sea into a living sea filled with fish – with fruit trees surrounding the river and the sea – you can understand how this river will “make glad the city of God!”

River in New Jerusalem

But let’s briefly look at the other river that comes from Jerusalem in Revelation chapter 22…

And all the information we have on it is in verses 1 and 2 of Revelation 22…

KJV Revelation 22:1 ¶ And he [i.e., the angel who was showing John all of these things…] shewed me [i.e., the Apostle John…] a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. [i.e., not the Temple, but the throne – Rev 21:22 declares that there will be no Temple in the New Jerusalem…]

2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

OK, so I will say that I think that this river is different from the river in Ezekiel 47.

In Ezekiel 47 the river is coming from the Temple. In Revelation 21 we’re told that there is no Temple and so the river in Revelation 22 is coming from the throne of God – not a physical Temple.

The vision in Ezekiel 47 must relate to the Millennium – when Christ will reign on the earth from Jerusalem. The vision in Revelation 22 – on the other hand – is of a time after the Millennium – after Satan leads one last rebellion against Jesus Christ and is destroyed once and for all.

So, let’s bring this back to Psalm 46. I believe that the river mentioned in Psalm 46 is this river from Ezekiel 47.

Psalm 46 is Unavoidably Millennial

And really, I think we can now see that Psalm 46 is thoroughly Millennial. Now, I’m sure that this psalm was used by ancient Israel as they went to war and had the Lord deliver and protect them from their enemies.

And yet, the Apostle Peter tells us that Old Testament prophets didn’t always know what exactly their prophecies would turn out to be. They searched concerning what time the Spirit of Christ was indicating to them and so forth.

So, it’s entirely possible that the Holy Spirit breathed out through the psalmist here a psalm that is really going to be used in all its glorious meaning in the Millennium when Christ reigns from Jerusalem.

And so, think about it. How does this psalm start? God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in time of trouble. Don’t you suppose that Israel will be declaring this after 7 years of Tribulation and then their sudden deliverance by their God the Lord Jesus Christ?

And because God is our strong refuge we won’t fear – even when the mountains start falling into the sea and the sea is roaring and nature just seems to be going crazy! And isn’t that what Israel will experience in the Tribulation right before the Millennium?

And then – there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God. God is in her midst. She won’t be moved. He will protect her. Is this not what Israel will experience in that great Millennial day when God is literally in the midst of her in the person of his Son Jesus Christ?

So, yes, this psalm is thoroughly Millennial in its emphasis – whether or not the psalmist himself even knew it.

Nations Disturbed

And now, we’re going to see the psalmist transition from peace and calm back to thinking of things that are chaotic and out of order. He’s already spoken of how he wouldn’t fear even when nature was out of control. But now in verse 6 he’s going to speak of the nations being out of control.

6 The [heathen/nations] [raged/made an uproar/are in uproar],
the kingdoms [were moved/tottered/are overthrown]:

And this will certainly happen in the Tribulation right before the Millennium.

Nations Subdued

But then God will step-in in the person of Jesus Christ and this will happen…

he [uttered his voice/raised his voice/gives a shout],
the earth [melted/dissolves].

And the emphasis given to God’s voice here is interesting in light of the fact that when Jesus returns in Revelation 19 we’re told that he will slay Israel’s enemies with what? With the sword of his … mouth!

His voice which comes from his mouth melts the earth in Psalm 46. And the sword that comes from his mouth slays the enemies of Israel in Revelation. Notice the connection with his mouth and the destruction of the wicked.

Jesus: The Lord of Hosts

And so, when Jesus comes to finish the Tribulation – he isn’t alone. He comes with the armies of heaven according to Revelation 19:14. He will be the Lord who commands armies – or another way to put it in familiar Old Testament terminology – he’s the Lord of … hosts.

That’s the one who will be with Israel in the Millennium – as they will recognize at that point and as the psalmist foretells in verse 7…

7 The LORD [of hosts/who commands armies] is [with us/on our side];
the God of Jacob is our [refuge/stronghold/protector].

Selah.

Now, Jesus Christ is known as Immanuel – God with us. And here – when Jesus finally defeats his foes and the foes of his people – he’ll be known as Yahweh with us. That’s what they’re declaring here.

And this reality – that Yahweh will be with them is such an amazing fact that they’re not going to say this just once in this short psalm of 11 verses – but they’ll say it twice.

And once again this reality of Yahweh being with them is so amazing that they see to it that they add a selah after stating this amazing new reality for them.

Destruction Marks His Coming

Well, when Jesus – whose name means “Yahweh saves” – comes to physically and spiritually save his people the Jews and usher in his Millennial reign, it obviously won’t be without quite a bit of destruction. He needs to destroy all the numberless armies that have gathered against Israel in those future days.

And so, the psalmist actually looks forward to that reality in verse 8.

8 Come, [behold/witness] the [works/exploits] of the LORD,
what [desolations/destructions] he hath [made/wrought/brought] [in/to] the earth.

And so, yes – Jesus will bring a good deal of destruction with him when he comes to set things right on this earth.

Peaceful Result

And yet, here’s the peaceful result of his violent second-coming…

9 He [maketh wars to cease/brings and end to wars] [unto the end of/through] the earth;
he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in [sunder/two];
he burneth the chariot in the fire.

So, you might be aware that World War 1 was known as the “War to End All Wars.” And yet, it’s pretty obvious that that war didn’t live up to that ambitious alias.

But there will be a war to end all wars – at least for one thousand years. And it’s called the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of the Great Tribulation.

And this is an event foretold in both New and Old Testaments. In fact, Isaiah chapter 2 gives us a glimpse into this time when Jesus reigns from Jerusalem. I’ll read verses 2 through 4 of that chapter where the prophet says…

 2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

3 And many people shall go and say,

Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths:

for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

4 And he [i.e., Jesus!…] shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

So, no more war between nations. That will be the reality when Jesus Christ comes to reign on the earth from Jerusalem. That’s what we’re told in the New Testament. That’s what we see in this psalm. That’s what we hear about in Isaiah. It’s all over the Scripture – this blessed reality that is quickly coming!

A Message of Peace

And in light of this reality – that Jesus Christ is coming again and will rule and establish perfect peace and justice on this earth, he has a message for us that’s just as applicable for us as it was for the original recipients of this psalm – in verse 10…

10 [i.e., He says…] [Be still/Cease striving/Stop striving], and [know/recognize] that I am God:
I will be exalted [among/over] the [heathen/nations],
I will be exalted [in/over] the earth.

Folks, it’s certain. Jesus is coming back to this earth. And when he does, every wrong will be made right.

Your crumbling body will be brand new. Where you experience poverty on whatever level, that’ll be taken care of. Your relationships will be in perfect harmony. You will never be hungry or thirsty again. You will never ever again struggle with sin. You will never be confused again. You will never be afraid of violence or war.

It’s coming! Because Jesus is coming.

But he’s not here yet. And these blessings that I’ve just mentioned and so many more aren’t ours… YET!

But they will be. Some day. And so, what God wants us to do right now as we wait for these things is to be still. Be calm. Don’t strive in anxiety and fear.

Instead, know and recognize that Jesus Christ is God. And he’ll see to it that he will be exalted over the nations and in all the earth. And everything will be made right when his kingdom comes.

Trust him to do this in his timing. Be patient. Be calm. Be looking for Christ’s return. He’s coming again and that’s a sure thing.

Jesus is With Us Now

And this one who is coming soon, is even now with us. The psalmist ends by repeating what we’ve already seen in verse 7…

11 The LORD [of hosts/who commands armies] is [with us/on our side];
the God of Jacob is our [refuge/stronghold/protector].

Selah.

And is this not what Jesus promised? That he would be with us always – even to the end of the world.

Jesus will be with us in this world in a special way in the future. And Jesus is with us right now as we serve him.

So, be still. Recognize his sovereignty in your life. And let’s pray with these realities in mind.

Psalm 44 Message / Psalm 44 Commentary / Psalm 44 Sermon

Open your Bibles to Psalm 44. The 44th Psalm for this Psalm 44 message…

I accidentally skipped this psalm last time and went to Psalm 45. So, we’ll circle back and cover this psalm now.

Psalm 44 is a lament psalm. And in it, we’ll see the psalmist:

1.      Remembering that God performed mighty deeds in the past for his people

2.      Desiring God to perform mighty deeds now

3.      Lamenting God’s recent chastening of his people

4.      Appealing to God that his chastening is not a result of their sin

5.      And then calling on God to again engage in his mighty deeds on their behalf

So, that’s a summary of the flow of this psalm.

Superscription

Now, let’s begin with the superscription of Psalm 44.

KJV Psalm 44:1 <To the [chief Musician/choir director/music director]
[for/of] the sons of Korah,
[Maschil/Well-written song].>

And I have a few facts from this superscription that I think you might find interesting.

First, this is one of 55 psalms that are addressed to this “Chief Musician.” Additionally, Habakkuk 3:19 also references the man who held this position. And so, this “Chief Musician” must be a position rather than a single individual, since he’s referenced through quite a long span of time.

Second, since we’re considering statistics, this psalm is one of 11 psalms that are “to the sons of Korah.”

Third and last – this psalm is one of 13 psalms that – at the beginning of the psalm – tell you that it is a “Maschil” or perhaps a well-written song.

Remembering that God performed mighty deeds in the past

So, moving on from the superscription of this psalm, we’ll now see the psalmist remembering that God performed mighty deeds for his people in the past in verses 1-3.

We have heard with our ears, O God,
our fathers have told us,

Well, what have they heard and what had their fathers told them?

what work thou didst in their days,
in the times of old.

And yet, God’s done a lot of work over the ages. Is there a particular work that they’re thinking of? Yes…

2 How thou didst drive out the [heathen/nations] with thy hand,
and plantedst [them/our fathers];

how thou didst [afflict/crush] the people,
and cast them out.

And so, what event is the psalmist hearkening back to here? That would be when God brought Israel into the Promised Land of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua.

And when God did that for Israel, there was a good deal of fighting involved. And yet, the psalmist confesses that the strength of Israel wasn’t what got them the land. Rather, God’s power did that for them.

3 For they got not the land in possession by their own sword,
neither did [their own arm save them/they prevail by their strength]:

but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance [i.e., saved them…],
because thou [hadst a favour/were partial] unto them.

So, God performed these mighty deeds in ancient times for Israel – not because they were great – but because he favored them.

And that’s the case for Christians – for this church. The only way we will prevail on a spiritual level is if God decides to favor us. And any success we have won’t be by our own devices – but by his strength at work in us.

Desiring God to perform mighty deeds now

And as is so often the case, a reminder of God’s past mighty deeds grows in us a greater desire to see him perform those kinds of deeds in our own lifetime.

And so, that’s what the psalmist does next. In verses 4-8 he expressed a desire for God to perform mighty deeds right now in his lifetime.

4 Thou art my King, O God[:/!]
[command/decree] [deliverances/victories] for Jacob[./!]

And if God commands deliverances for his people, this is what will happen.

5 Through [the power of…] thee will we [push/drive] [down/back] our [enemies/adversaries]:
through thy [name/strength] will we [tread them under/trample down those] that rise up against us.

And that might sound like the psalmist is proudly boasting of his own strength and the strength of God’s people. But that’s not at all what he’s wanting to communicate. Because he knows that any victory that God’s present-day people have will come about just the same way that God’s people of old experienced victory – by God’s strength.

6 For I [will/do] not trust in my bow,
neither shall my sword save me.

7 But [i.e., rather than saving myself…] thou [hast saved/deliver/will deliver] us from our enemies,
and [hast/will] [put them to shame/humiliated them] that hated us.

And therefore – because the psalmist is expecting God to grant deliverance from enemies and give success…

8 In God [we/I] boast all the day long,
and [praise/we will thank] thy name [for ever/continually].

Selah.

And so, when we go to prayer, we can remember the way that God has worked with his people in times past – both in our church and more broadly wherever he’s given success to his people on the earth.

And at the same time – we can beg him to work the same kind of awesome deeds that he’s proven he can do in times past.

Lamenting God’s recent chastening

And yet, the desire of the psalmist for God to perform mighty deeds in his time like he did in the old days faces one serious obstacle. It’s the fact that God has been chastening the psalmist and his people according to verses 9-16.

9 [But/Yet] thou hast [cast off/rejected], and [put us to shame/brought us to dishonor/embarrassed us];
and goest not forth [into battle…] with our armies.

So, it used to be that the Lord would go with Israel as they conquered the land of Canaan. But at this point in the psalmist’s life that has stopped happening in Israel.

Instead…

10 Thou makest us [to turn back/retreat] from the [enemy/adversary]:
and they which hate us [spoil/have taken spoil/take whatever they want] for themselves.

11 Thou hast [given/handed over] us like sheep [appointed for meat/to be eaten];
and hast scattered us among the [heathen/nations].

And with that statement being made, you wonder if perhaps this psalm was written during the Babylonian exile when Israel was scattered among the heathen.

And yet, since the psalmist has mentioned the presence of “armies” of Israel – the setting of this psalm probably is not the Babylonian exile since Israel wouldn’t have had armies at that point.

So, this psalm must have occurred sometime before the exile to Babylon – and of course sometime after the conquering of Canaan.

It could have happened under the reign of just about any of the wicked kings of either northern Israel or southern Judah – when God would have been displeased with his people and allowed enemies to come in and take things and people captive.

And yet, what we’ll see later in this psalm indicates that the people weren’t being scattered and chastened for their own sin. So, it’s quite difficult to pinpoint the background to this psalm. And were not the only ones to struggle on that point – Charles Spurgeon and Matthew Henry also don’t really know the setting of the psalm.

So, we’ll proceed.

Now, when a person attempts to get rid of something valuable, he’ll usually try to get top dollar for that thing.

And yet, the psalmist goes on to declare that God gave away his people for nothing.

12 Thou [sellest/sold] thy people [for nought/cheaply/for a pittance],
and dost not increase thy wealth by their price. [You haven’t profited by their sale…]

And so, as a result of God’s giving away his people to their enemies, those very enemies – and, really, anyone who saw what was happening to Israel – were shocked at what God was allowing to happen to them – his own covenant people!

13 Thou makest us [a reproach/an object of disdain] to our neighbours,
a [scorn/scoffing/taunt] and [a derision/insult] to them [they do these things to us…] that [are round about us/live on our borders].

14 Thou makest us [a byword/an object of ridicule] among the [heathen/nations],
a [shaking of the head/laughingstock] among [the people/foreigners]. [i.e., they treat us with contempt…]

And so, as a result of God’s granting defeat after defeat to his people and giving his people over to their enemies, the psalmist is in emotional turmoil.

15 My [confusion/dishonor] is [continually/all day long] before me,
and [the shame of my face/my humiliation] hath [covered/overwhelmed] me,

16 [For/Because of/Before] the voice of him that [reproacheth/ridicules] and [blasphemeth/reviles/insults];
by reason of [i.e., the presence of…] the [enemy and avenger/vindictive enemy].

So, the psalmist has remembered God’s mighty deeds of old.

He has expressed his strong desire for blessings along the lines of what God’s people formerly have enjoyed.

And yet, we just saw the psalmist lament the fact that God has done just the opposite in his case. In the psalmist’s lifetime, God has not delivered his people from their enemies. He’s delivered his people to their enemies!

And that’s why it seems like God isn’t with them anymore. They experience defeat after defeat. Life is hard for them.

And I want to ask – have you experienced something similar to what this psalmist experienced?

Has your family recently in one way or another fallen on hard times – even though in past times God has been gracious to you?

What about your church? How has it been going for us? A little rough, I’d say. And that’s of course an understatement. We’ve had quite a bit of discouragement and defeat over the years.

Or maybe you’re associated in whatever ways with other ministries that have seen God’s rich blessings in times past – but now – despite your great desire for things to be different – those ministries are struggling.

So, I think we all know something of what this psalmist is struggling with.

Appealing to God that his chastening is not a result of sin

And I think that when we express concerns like this about our family or our church or whatever other ministries we’re involved with – that they’re struggling in numerous ways – I think that the immediate reaction of others to this news is something like the response of Job’s three friends to the suffering Job.

That is, Oh! I know why you’re struggling! It’s because of some sin issue or some deficiency on your part or your pastor’s part or the part of your ministry leader or whatever! Looking to place the blame on someone for the apparent withdrawal of blessings from the Lord.

And yet, we’re going to see the psalmist categorically deny that the chastening that God is bringing on his people has anything to do with sin.

And so, in verses 17-22, the psalmist appeals to God that the chastening they’re experiencing is not a result of national or personal sin.

17 All this [is come upon/has happened to] us; [yet/even though] have we not [forgotten/rejected] thee,
neither have we [dealt falsely in/violated] thy covenant [i.e., with us…].

And this verse is one more big reason why I think this psalm was not set during the Babylonian exile. Why? Because the people were in exile in Babylon precisely because of their forgetting God and dealing falsely in his covenant.

So, they’re being chastened without a doubt. And yet – equally undoubted is that – this chastening is not a punishment for sin.

And so, the psalmist continues…

18 Our heart is not turned back, [i.e., we have not been unfaithful…]
neither have our steps [declined/deviated] from thy way; [i.e., not have we disobeyed your commands…]

And so, the actions of the Lord in handing his people over to defeat and not going with their armies and giving them over to their enemies is simply rather unexpected in light of these things not being the result of sin.

19 [Though/Yet] thou hast [sore broken/crushed/battered] us [i.e., leaving us…] in [the/a] place of [dragons/jackals/wild dogs],
and covered us with [the shadow of death/darkness].

And so, the psalmist continues by declaring that if they were guilty of sin then God would make that known.

20 If we [have/had] [forgotten the name of/rejected] our God,
or stretched out our hands [i.e., in prayer…] to [a strange/another] god;

21 [Shall/Would] not God [search this out/find this out/discover it]?
for he knoweth [the secrets of the heart/one’s thoughts].

In other words, God knows everything. And he would know if the people were sinning to the extent that he had to punish them. And yet, that’s not the case here and God knows it. That’s what the psalmist is maintaining.

Well… then… why are God’s people experiencing defeat at the hands of their enemies? This is crucial. Verse 22.

22 [Yea/But/Yet], [for thy sake/because of you] are we killed all the day long;
we are [counted/considered/treated] as sheep [for the slaughter/to be slaughtered/at the slaughtering block].

So, there it is, folks. Did you know that there’s another possibility as to why a family or a church or another type of ministry is experiencing defeat – rather than the pat answer that sin is involved?

Why the defeat? It’s for the Lord’s sake. It’s because of the Lord.

And just like Job and just like this psalmist, we ultimately don’t know why. Why the defeat? We have no clue – except that it’s for the Lord’s sake. He has plans beyond what we can fathom. His ways are higher than ours.

And this is on the mind of the apostle Paul when in Romans 8 he speaks of the worrying and dangerous and deadly things that we might tend to think will threaten to separate us from the love of God.

Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine (not enough to eat), nakedness (not enough to wear), peril, sword. And then Paul points to this passage as a reference. As if to say – do you remember Psalm 44 and how it talks about godly people suffering – but not for their sin???

And then Paul consoles us that we are more than conquerors in all these things through the one who loved us. And you know what? The one who loves us is the one who brings these things on us – persecution, distress, etc. He loves us. And when he sends these things to us, it’s not because he hates us. It’s not even necessarily chastening for sin. It’s all for his sake.

And so, Paul ends Romans 8 with an air of confidence that nothing – none of these things mentioned – will ever separate us from God’s love in Christ.

So, I have a few questions for us.

Has our church gone through hard times? Yes.

Can I or anyone else promise that the hard times are over? Will getting a new pastor – for example – magically end the hard times for our assembly? No.

Should we be at all surprised if harder times actually come? No.

If harder times come, does that mean that we’re separated from God? … No! It doesn’t even necessarily mean that he’s chastening us for sins. All it means is that God has a plan. And he’s enacting that plan for his sake in a way that only he fully understands.

And when it comes down to it, his plans that he works through our sufferings are – in his mind – just a glorious as his mighty deeds of delivering his people. God’s causing us to experience defeat is just as much in his plan as is his giving success in times past.

Whatever God does is right. He is always good.

Calling on God to renew his mighty deeds

And yet – even though we can trust that God’s ways are right and higher than ours – even when they include serious defeats and setbacks – we’re still encouraged to call on God to renew his mighty deeds of old – just like the psalmist does in verses 23-26 to end this psalm.

23 [Awake/Arouse yourself!], why sleepest thou, O Lord?
[arise/Awake/Wake up!], [cast us not off/do not reject us] for ever.

24 Wherefore [hidest thou thy face/do you look the other way],
and [forgettest/ignore] our affliction and our oppression? [i.e., how others are treating us…]

And we need to recognize that the psalmist is expressing the way he feels – not the literal reality of the situation.

What do I mean by that?

Well, does God sleep? No, he doesn’t. He slumbers not, nor sleeps.

Does God reject or cast off his people? No. He will never leave nor forsake us.

Does God hide his face? Does he forget his people’s affliction? No, not in reality.

And yet, this is exactly how the psalmist feels. He feels as though God is asleep – after all, he’s not listening to their cries for help!

He feels like God has rejected them – like God is playing a frustrating game where he hides his face from his people – like God might know what’s troubling his people, but unfortunately he doesn’t really care and so he just ignores them.

And isn’t God glorious for putting up with this kind of talk about himself? He demonstrates his awesome strength by allowing his weak people to probe that strength of his. To question it. To see if it’s really there – like they suspect that it is.

And yet, in the end, we all know – even the psalmist – that God’s power is awesome. I mean, the psalmist began this psalm magnifying what he knows that God did in the past and what he can do even now.

So, the psalmist doesn’t even really personally believe in what he just implied about God. But he’s communicating how he feels about his situation. And God graciously allowed for him to do that.

Because God is very patient with us very weak people. And that weakness is what the psalmist portrays in verse 25.

25 For our soul [is bowed/has sunk] down to the dust: [i.e., we lie in the dirt…]
our belly [cleaveth/pressed] unto the [earth/ground].

So, when it comes down to it, it’s God’s people – not God himself – who is in a position of weakness and neediness.

And so, the psalmist makes one final plea for God to graciously help them according to his mighty power.

26 [Arise/Rise up] [for/be] our help, [i.e., help us!…]
and [redeem/rescue] us [for/because of] thy [mercies’ sake/lovingkindness/loyal love].

So, the psalmist is asking for military victory for Israel here.

But for us in the church, we can identify with being redeemed for the sake of God’s loyal covenant love. And every single one of us who has put our trust in Jesus Christ has been redeemed. Why? Not for our own goodness – but for the sake of God’s mercy – his lovingkindness – his chesed.

And therefore – that being the case – to return to earlier thoughts – what can separate us from the love of God? Not even being treated as a sheep for slaughter. We overwhelmingly conquer through him who loves us.

And so, as we go to prayer – even if we’re experiencing a sense of God-forsakenness – let’s remember that we are not forsaken. God is not done with us yet. He might allow us to be treated like sheep in the line to be slaughtered. And yet, he is still with us working in and among us for his sake.

Let’s call on him to again do wonders among us. And let’s rest in the fact that nothing can separate us from his love in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 45 Commentary

Open your Bibles to Hebrews, chapter 1. (For this Psalm 45 commentary)

Psalm 45 in Hebrews 1

The author of Hebrews makes the point immediately in this book that Jesus Christ is God’s final speech. Look at verses 1 and 2.

KJV Hebrews 1:1 ¶ God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…

And then the author goes on to speak of this Son and what he’s like and what he’s done.

And what’s he’s like and what he’s done is so glorious that the author can say in verse 4 of Jesus Christ…

KJV Hebrews 1:4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

And if we need proof of Jesus being better than the angels, that’s what Hebrews gives us for the rest of this chapter. It starts in verse 5…

KJV Hebrews 1:5 ¶ For unto which of the angels said he at any time,

Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?

And again,

I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

And the author of this book will go on to give several more quotes from the Old Testament in which he contrasts the unique position of the Son of God to the secondary and servile position of the angels.

But we want to focus on verses 8 and 9. Let’s read those.

KJV Hebrews 1:8 ¶ But unto the Son he saith,

Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever:
a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity;
therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee

with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

So, we see that the author of Hebrews clearly states that Jesus Christ – the Son of God – who is better than the angels – was addressed as “God” in the Old Testament.

And do you know what Psalm that quote is taken from? … It’s Psalm 45. And it just so happens that this is the next psalm on our path through studying through the book of Psalms.

So, let’s turn to that Psalm and study it in its context. Psalm 45. …

Superscription/Introduction

To begin, let’s read the superscription of this psalm.

KJV Psalm 45:1

<[To/For] the [chief Musician/choir director/music director]
[upon/according to the] [Shoshannim/tune of “Lilies”],
[for/of/by] the [sons of Korah/Korahites],
[Maschil/a well-written poem],
A [Song of loves/love song].>

So, we gather from this superscription a few things.

The primary fact that we take away from this part of the psalm is that this is a love song. And what we’ll see throughout this psalm is that it’s written on the occasion of the wedding of a Davidic king.

The fact that it’s according to Shoshannim – or “the lilies” gives it a more gentle feel, which is appropriate to a wedding love song.

And it’s a Maschil or probably a well-written psalm for such a momentous occasion.

Preparation for the subject matter

And so, now for the rest of verse 1 we are being prepared for the subject matter to come throughout this psalm.

My heart [is inditing/overflows with/is stirred by] a [good matter/good theme/beautiful song]:
I [speak of the things which I have made touching/address my verses to/say, “I have composed this special song for] the king:

my tongue is [the pen/as skilled as the stylus] of [a ready writer/an experienced scribe].

So, the psalmist is ready to write about this wonderful subject. Our anticipation should be building. Like – What could this good matter be that is so stirring to you heart? What would you like to tell us about with your pen-like tongue??

The beautiful subject

Well, here it is in verse 2 – the beautiful subject that we’ve been anticipating.

2 Thou art [fairer than/the most handsome of all] [the children of men/men]:
[grace is poured into thy lips/you speak in an impressive and fitting manner]:

[therefore/for this reason] God [hath blessed thee for ever/grants you continual blessings].

And I think that throughout this psalm we will be operating on two levels.

The first is that we recognize that this was written for a mere human Davidic king for his wedding procession. He’s on his way to his wedding and this love song has been written to accompany such an exciting and joyful event.

But at the same time, this psalm is thoroughly Messianic. And so, we can see how it relates to Jesus Christ and his bride the Church throughout.

The king was attractive and gracious

So, for verse 2, if we’re dealing on the human-only Davidic king-level, we see a king being praised for his handsome appearance and gracious speech and evident blessing from God.

Jesus is attractive and gracious

But as we look at it from the Messianic perspective, we see a Savior who is both inside and out the most beautiful man to ever live.

We see the man of Calvary whose speech – and whole life – was full of grace and truth.

We see the Nazarene who is – according to Romans 9 – God-blessed forever.

The King encouraged to engage in military exploits

And so, now in verses 3-5 this King is encouraged to engage in military exploits.

3 Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O [most mighty/mighty one/warrior],
[with/in/appear in] thy [glory and thy majesty/splendor and majesty/majestic splendor].

4 [And in thy majesty ride prosperously/Appear in your majesty and be victorious]
[because/for the cause/ride forth for the sake] of [truth and meekness/what is right] and [righteousness/on behalf of justice];

[and/then] thy right hand shall [teach thee/accomplish] [terrible things/awesome things/mighty acts].

5 Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies;
whereby [the people/nations] fall [under thee/at your feet].

The king was mighty in battle

And so, it’s easy to see how this kind of encouragement would fit into the life of a human Davidic king. He’s brave and he goes into battle for the protection and safety of his people. He’s their deliverer. And so much of the time, delivery comes as a result of fighting and war.

And so, even at this man’s wedding procession, the people are thinking of him in these terms of being a military hero and protector of his people.

Jesus will be mighty in battle

But if we look at this from a Messianic standpoint, we need to ask ourselves – what will Jesus need to do before he comes to enjoy his full reuniting with his Bride, the Church on earth?

Jesus is going to need to come on his white horse and destroy all the enemies of his people Israel and set up his Millennial Reign wherein his people will reign with him.

There we’ll see truth and meekness and righteous fully carried out in every way.

The King recognized as deity

Now, the next part of the psalm in verses 6 and 7 is honestly quite difficult to see on the merely-human level. Because it’s in these two verses that the King is actually recognized as deity.

6 Thy throne, O God, is [for ever and ever/permanent]:
the sceptre of thy kingdom is a [right/just] sceptre.

7 Thou lovest [righteousness/justice],
and hatest [wickedness/evil]:

therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee
with the oil of [gladness/joy] [elevating you…] above thy [fellows/companions].

And I wondered what Jewish people who don’t receive Jesus as their Messiah do with this verse. And so, I looked at one of their commentaries and they actually changed the word “God” in verse 6 to be “Judge.” And the commentator had this elaborate view of this passage – that it’s actually speaking not of a king but of teachers of the Torah.

Why? That’s because to a Jew who doesn’t recognize that Jesus is both man and God – Davidic King and Yahweh God – there’s not a whole lot he can do with this passage. If he wants to avoid the claims of Christ, then he needs to try to translate himself out of this uncomfortable reality – that in Jesus Christ, all the fullness of deity dwells bodily.

The only alternative to just mistranslating this verse for an unbelieving Jew would be to say that verse 6 is basically an aside to God and that it’s not addressing the King at this point.

And yet, that’s hard to maintain. All the while, the psalmist is speaking of the King. Leading up to verse 6 he’s speaking of him. And then in verse 7 it’s quite clear that he’s still speaking of him.

And so, even verse 6 is addressing this King. And he’s addressed as “God.”

I honestly don’t know how people in the days of this king would have handled these verses that address the King as God.

But I know how we’re supposed to think of it. And, that’s the way that Hebrews 1 portrays it. This is speaking of God’s kingly Son, Jesus Christ, who is God’s last word and who is better than even the super-powerful angels.

The King’s desirableness and luxury

Now, the psalmist goes on to speak in verses 8 and 9 of the King’s desirableness and luxury.

8 All thy garments [smell of/are perfumed with] myrrh, and aloes, and cassia,
[out of/from] the [ivory/luxurious] palaces, [whereby/comes the music of] [they/stringed instruments] have made thee glad.

9 [Kings’ daughters/Princesses] [were/are] among thy [honourable/noble/honored] [women/ladies/guests]:
[upon/at] thy right hand [did stand/stands] the queen [in/wearing jewelry made with] gold [of/from] Ophir.

The king was desirable and luxurious

So, the king’s clothing is perfumed with various scents. And he’s associated with palaces decked in ivory – that perhaps even music is coming from these beautiful luxurious palaces just for him and his wedding day – making him glad.

And those aren’t the only signs of luxury and richness for this king. He has all sorts of noble women attending him in his court.

But the crowning jewel is his queen. And she herself is bejeweled with gold from a place known for its gold – Ophir.

Jesus is desirable and luxurious

And I suppose if we’re extending this to Christ, then perhaps this points to the richness in heaven that he left in order to become poor so that he could make us spiritually rich. It’s like the hymn goes – “out of the ivory palaces into a world of woe – only his great eternal love made my Savior go.

And he came for his queen – his bride – the Church. And in this life we’re poor in numerous ways. And yet, spiritually we are rich. And when we’re with him – not wearing gold maybe – but walking on streets of gold – we will be appreciating the riches given to us by our King forever.

An appeal to the princess on behalf of the king

Now, with the mention of the queen in verse 9, the psalmist goes on in verses 10-12 to appeal directly to the princess – who is soon to be the queen – on behalf of the King.

10 [Hearken/Listen], O [daughter/princess], [and consider/give attention/observe],
and [incline thine ear/pay attention]; [what does she need to hear?…]

forget also thine [own people/homeland],
and thy [father’s house/family];

11 [So shall/Then will] the king [greatly desire/be attracted by] thy beauty: [why should she leave what she knows and do the king’s will?…]

[for/because/after all] he is thy [Lord/master];
[and worship thou/bow down to/submit to] him.

12 And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift;
even the rich among the people shall [intreat/seek] thy favour.

The princess should leave all and embrace the king

So, this princess who is soon-to-be-married to this king is encouraged to leave and cleave to borrow from Genesis. And actually, there in Genesis, the order is for the man to leave his parents and cleave to his wife. Here it’s reversed. The bride-to-be is encouraged to leave all else behind and join herself in marriage to this all-desirable king.

And if she does that – if she leaves what she knew in order to marry this man, the king would desire her beauty. He himself is the fairest – according to verse 2. But he will see and desire her fairness that is a match for his.

And if she has difficulty leaving what she knows in this life to join the king, she needs to remember that he’s the ruler of this domain. He is her king. She would do well to submit to him.

And if she does, even foreigners from the wealthiest of places – Tyre in this case – will be there to welcome and congratulate her on making the right decision.

The Church should leave all and embrace Jesus

So, let’s apply this to the Church’s relationship to Christ our King.

Christ won’t have competition for our affections. Friendship with the world is enmity with God. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. You and I as the Bride of Christ must leave what we’ve known and belong to our great King alone.

And you might think sometimes that we’re the only ones who are benefiting from our relationship to Christ and that he himself is fairly ambivalent about it. But he told us that as the Father loved him, he loves us. He has prepared a place for us so that we can be with him forever. He laid down his life for us because we are his friends. He loves us and desires to be with us forever and to see his glory.

And do any of us struggle to be wholly Christ’s? Are we tempted to be lured back to our old way of life like the Hebrews were to whom the book of Hebrews was written?

If so, we need to remember that Christ is our Lord – our master. He has all power on earth and in heaven. Everything – including us – belongs to him. So, let’s act like that’s the case – because it is.

And can you imagine on that day when we reign with Christ in the Millennium and all nations are serving our King? Surely, we will have these foreign nations there with us, bringing their gifts.

Praising the princess to the King

Now, the psalmist turns back to the King and – as if the King needs any encouragement in this area – the psalmist praises the princess back to the King. Just like the psalmist praised the King to the princess, now he does the reverse of that in verses 13-15.

13 The [king’s daughter is/princess looks] [all glorious within/absolutely magnificent] [i.e., within her bridal chamber…]:
her clothing is [of wrought/interwoven with/trimmed with] gold.

14 She shall be [brought/escorted] unto the king in [raiment of needlework/embroidered work/embroidered robes]:
the [virgins/maidens of honor] her [companions/attendants] that follow her [shall be brought unto/are led before] thee [<– Where I get that this is addressed to the king…].

15 [With gladness and rejoicing/Bubbling with joy] shall they [be brought/be led forth/walk in procession]:
they shall enter into the [king’s/royal] palace.

The princess was elaborately arrayed

And so, regarding the bride-to-be of the ancient Davidic king, this is speaking of how elaborate her outfit is as she’s ready to join the king in marriage. And not just her outfit – but her attendants are elaborate in terms of their number and their enthusiasm. And so, these things are praised about this woman to the king.

The Church is elaborately arrayed

And for the Bride of Christ, this again points to our adornment on that day when we’re finally united to Christ our King. Our garments will be bright and clean – they’ll be our righteous acts. We will have no spot or wrinkle or anything like that.

And as for our attendants on that great day, we know that all creation groans and suffers pains until the resurrection of our bodies and our being fully united – face-to-face – to our King. Don’t you suppose that all creation will be ready observers of this future and imminent event?

The continuation of the King’s rule and reputation

And lastly, the psalmist declares the continuation of the King’s rule and reputation in verses 16 and 17.

16 [Instead/In place] of thy fathers shall be thy children, [to carry on the dynasty…]
whom thou mayest make princes [in all/throughout] the [earth/land].

17 I will [make thy name to be remembered/proclaim your greatness] [in all generations/through the coming years]:
therefore shall the [people/peoples/nations] [praise/give thanks to] thee for ever and ever.

The king will continue his reign

And so, for the ancient Davidic king – here the psalmist is looking forward to the fruit of his upcoming marriage – children to take his place and rule in his stead.

And the psalmist promises to make this man’s name be remembered in all generations. But isn’t it interesting that we don’t know the exact identity of this King? Is it David? Is it Solomon? Or Rehoboam? Or…? We don’t know his name.

Jesus will continue his reign

And yet, we know the name of Jesus – still to this day. The world knows his name. And the Church praises him to this day. And it’s the Church that is made-up of so many “people” or “Gentiles” that praise our King forever and ever.

Because the truth of the matter is that we will reign with him. We’ll be made princes in all the earth when our King comes to reign and have his wedding procession and wedding supper with us.

And what a day that will be. And it will most surely come when our Lord the King comes in his beauty.

So, that’s Psalm 45. A hymn for a historical wedding procession. And a hymn that is unmistakably Messianic and pointing us to that future day when the Church – in the words of the song – “eyes not her garment, but her dear bridegroom’s face.” Looking not at the glory that will just absolutely surround us at that point, but on our King of grace.

Psalm 43 Meaning

Let’s discover Psalm 43 meaning. This psalm consists of five short verses, so let’s read those right now.

Psalm 43 Meaning Read

Invocation

43 [Judge/Vindicate] me, O God,
and plead my [cause/case] [fight for me…] against an ungodly nation:

Lament

O deliver me from the deceitful and [unjust/evil] [man/men].

Confidence

For thou art the God [of my strength/who shelters me]:
why [dost/have] thou [cast me off/rejected me]?

Lament

why [go I/must I walk around] mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy? [my enemies oppress me…]

Petition

[O send out/Reveal] thy light
and thy [truth/faithfulness]:

[let them/they will] lead me;
[let them bring/they will escort] me [back…]

unto thy holy hill,
and to thy [tabernacles/dwelling place(s)].

Confidence/Praise

Then will I go unto the altar of God,
unto God [my exceeding/who gives me ecstatic] joy:

yea, upon the harp will I praise thee,
O God my God.

Confidence

Why art thou [cast down/in despair/depressed], O my soul?
and why art thou [disquieted/disturbed/upset] within me?

[hope in/wait for] God:
for I shall [yet/again] [praise him/give thanks to my God],

who is the [health/help] of my countenance,
and my God. [for God’s saving intervention…]

Psalm 43 Meaning The Psalmist is Depressed

So, in Psalm 43, the psalmist speaks to us about being depressed or cast down.

In verse 2, he speaks of mourning. In verse 5, he talks to his own soul – to himself, really. And he asks himself why he’s cast down and disquieted. Or why he’s depressed and upset.

So, the man writing this psalm is experiencing some sort of inner turmoil that is causing him to give up and quit in his life.

And there are all sorts of catalysts that can make people feel this way. You might be feeling this way. Maybe you’re just physically exhausted and feel like you just can’t go on. Maybe you’re overwhelmed by any number of circumstances in your life. And you feel depressed, cast down, upset emotionally.

So, a person can enter into this spiritual condition of depression for several reasons.

Psalm 43 Meaning Why is the Psalmist Depressed?

But the psalmist actually tells us why he’s depressed throughout this psalm.

He mentions an ungodly nation full of unjust or evil men in verse 1.

In verse 2, he says that these men are his enemies and that they are oppressing him.

And the question in my mind is “who is this nation?” And we’re given minimal details about the identity of this ungodly nation.

Psalm 43 Meaning Babylon?

Here’s one possibility. The psalmist is writing while in exile in Babylon. And this ungodly nation is Babylon. And he’s walking around being oppressed and depressed all day long.

But I don’t think that’s the nation being referred to here. Because the psalmist mentions going to God’s tabernacles and his holy hill and when he’s there he plans to approach the altar. And so, if this psalm was set during the time of the exile of Judah, the Tabernacle on Mount Zion was destroyed. He couldn’t visit it and even if he could visit the ruins of the Tabernacle, he would not find the altar that he’s saying that he’s going to approach.

Psalm 43 Meaning Israel

So, this ungodly nation is not a foreign entity. I think it’s safe to assume that the psalmist is speaking of his own people, Israel.

The psalmist is depressed because his own people – not some foreign entity – are oppressing him. They’re deceitful and evil and oppressive.

And we can identify with what that’s like – to live in a country marked by lying, evil, and oppression of those who love the Lord.

So, we know that the psalmist is depressed. We know why he’s depressed – enemies who are lying and oppressing and being generally wicked.

But what’s the solution to the psalmist’s depression?

Psalm 43 Meaning The Solution to the Psalmist’s Depression

In the psalmist’s mind, what he needs at a very basic and foundational level for help with his depression is for God to act decisively.

He says in verse 1 that he needs God to judge or vindicate him. As if he’s being put on trial and needs to be exonerated – probably from these men who are lying about him.

He needs God to plead his cause against his whole nation – which is acting in a very ungodly manner in verse 1 still.

The psalmist ends verse 1 by begging God for deliverance.

So, on the one hand, the psalmist needs God to protect him physically from his enemies.

But that’s not where it ends. The psalmist goes on to focus rather on his relationship to God and his word.

In verse 3 he asks God to send out his light and truth. And he says that if God does this, then the psalmist will be led back to God’s Tabernacle in verses 3 and 4.

Psalm 43 Meaning Background

And at this point I think we can piece this episode into David’s life when he was being chased out of Jerusalem by his son Absalom. He wants to come back to Jerusalem – to the Tabernacle of God. But he needs God to take some action to make that happen. He needs to be defended from his enemies. But he also needs God to sustain him during that time in his brief exile with light and truth.

Negatively, he needs God to hold back his enemies. Positively, he needs God to encourage him by unleashing his truth in David’s life.

And when those things happen, it’s only a matter of time until David is brought back to God’s Tabernacle in verse 3.

Psalm 43 Meaning Mindset

And then his thinking and mindset start to shift from his problems and his depression to the desirability of God.

In verse 4 he starts to visualize being back at the altar of the Tabernacle where he would offer sacrifices.

And of course those sacrifices in the Old Testament were usually animal sacrifices. And yet, that’s not what David is limiting the scope of his sacrifice to in this psalm. In connection with the altar in verse 4, what does he say that he’s going to do? He’s going to praise God on the harp.

Praise will be David’s sacrifice to God when he’s brought back to God’s Tabernacle in Jerusalem.

And I think we know by experience that when we’re really involved in praising God it tends to dive away depression, the likes of which David was experiencing and working through in this psalm.

So, David will turn from his depression to instead praise this God who is the God of his strength in verse 2. He is the God who gives David exceeding joy in verse 4. And this strength-giving, joy-giving God is truly David’s. He is my God in verse 4.

Psalm 43 Meaning Conclusion

And so, in light of these realities – and the fact that David’s God is also ours – any of us who are depressed and cast down can ask ourselves with David – “Soul, why are you depressed and cast down? Hope in God. For we will again praise this God who is the help and health of our countenance.

Psalm 42 The Message

Open your Bibles to Psalm 42.

Psalm 42 is a lament psalm written by men who formerly were able to freely worship God with the Lord’s people. But something has changed. And now they find themselves removed from the religious life that they formerly enjoyed. And they miss it greatly.

So, let’s start with the superscription of Psalm 42.

Superscription | 1a

KJV Psalm 42:1 <To the [chief Musician/choir director/music director], [Maschil/a well-written song], [for/of/by] the [sons of Korah/Korahites].>

Now, this is the first mention we have in the psalms of the “sons of Korah.” So, I think now’s a good time to get some background on these men.

We need to start back in the time of Moses. In Moses’ day, the Lord set apart the sons of Levi to serve in the Tabernacle. Yet, only Aaron’s sons served as priests.

Now, within the Levites there were three groups – the sons of Gershon, the sons of Merari, and the sons of Kohath. The grandson of Kohath was Korah – from whom these men who wrote this psalm descended.

And despite these men’s privileged position – and maybe even because of it – they rebelled against Moses’ God-ordained leadership. And their punishment was extraordinary and severe – the ground opened up and they all fell in and died.

And yet, apparently some of the children – maybe those who were too young to participate in the rebellion – were spared and went on to be “somebodys” for the Lord.

Samuel the prophet – for example – descended from Korah. Other sons of Korah were doorkeepers in the Tabernacle. Some of them turned out to be worthy warriors alongside King David. And during the reign of David, a number of these men became leaders in the music of the Tabernacle.

So, that’s who these men are – men who served the Lord and his people in the Tabernacle – and later the Temple.

They also authored this psalm – of course – as well as Psalms 44 through 49, Psalms 84 & 85, and Psalms 87 & 88. So, 11 psalms!

So, these men are in a unique position to worship the Lord – and actually to lead the Lord’s people in worship. They’ve even been granted the awesome privlege – under the Holy Spirit’s guidance – to pen several chapters of Scripture.

Invocation/Petition | 1b-2

And so, these men start off this psalm with an invocation of the Lord as well as a petition to him in verses 1 and 2 expressing their great desire for the Lord whom they love to worship.

As the [hart/deer] [panteth/longs] [after/for] the [water brooks/streams of water],
so [panteth my soul/I long] [after/for] thee, O God.

2 [My soul/I] thirsteth for God, for the living God:
[i.e., I say…] when shall I come and appear before God?

So, picture a deer. A deer that is out in the desert. A dry place – no water. Having to escape from predators – which activity surely causes them to need even more of what they don’t have – access to abundant water to quench their thirst – and really, to simply keep them alive.

That’s how these sons of Korah picture themselves in relation to God. We’ll see that these men have predators who are harassing them – just like the deer does. But instead of thirsting for water, these men thirst for something else that they feel is lacking in some way in their lives. They’re thirsting for God. They need God. They want to be in his presence and worship him.

They insistently ask themselves, “when am I going to be able to come and appear before God?!” They want to be in the Temple where the Lord’s people met to worship in the Old Testament. And that doesn’t surprise us – knowing that these men were the ones who led God’s people in worshipping the Lord in song. They want to be with God’s people, leading the people – and participating with them – in joyfully worshipping the Lord.

And they thirst for this and need it just as much as a thirsty worn-out deer thirsts for water.

And we have to acknowledge that people like this are rare. You can look around and see an indication of how many people are really even all that interested in being with God’s people and worshipping the Lord.

And that’s not just the case in our church. It happens everywhere.

We as Christians too easily thirst for entertainment. Or for rest. For sports. Work. Family. Hobbies. You name it – and you’ll often find people thirsting for that. As long as it’s not the Lord – worshipping the Lord, being with his people in the place in which his people get together to worship.

The sons of Korah were different. And their desire is worthy of emulation in us.

And no doubt – part of what caused the sons of Korah to so greatly desire to worship the Lord with God’s people is that they had a handle on who God was. He was – and is – the living God. He’s not dead. He’s not absent when his people come together to worship him. He is an active onlooker and recipient as we come together to worship him.

And so, the sons of Korah greatly desired to worship this true and living God.

Lament | 3-4

And yet, when desire goes unfulfilled there can be great sorrow and distress. That’s what these men express in verses 3 and 4.

3 My tears have been my [meat/food] day and night [i.e., he can’t eat because of so much weeping],
while they [continually/all day long] say unto me, Where is thy God?

4 When I remember these things,
I pour out my soul in me:

for I had gone with the multitude,
I [went with/led] them to the [house/temple] of God,

with the voice of joy and [praise/thanksgiving],
with a multitude that [kept/celebrated] [holyday/festival].

And so, apparently what’s happening here is that these men are being harassed by those who scornfully ask them about the existence of their God. The living God whom they love to worship with his people. Where is that God?! – they scoff.

And that clues us in to the fact that something has happened that allows their enemies to assume that their God doesn’t exist or that he abandoned them. And we’ll see more evidence later in the psalm that suggests that these men may even have been in exile at this time.

So, they would give anything to worship God. But they can’t do so as they used to because they’ve been removed from Jerusalem. And that fact has allowed their enemies to question the strength of the God whom they love.

And what makes matters even worse is that the sons of Korah can remember back to a time when they had nearly unrestricted access to worship the Lord with his people. In fact, they just told us that they actually led God’s people to the Temple to worship the Lord. They were at the front and center of the religious life of Israel.

There was a multitude of them. They were full of joy at the prospect of worshipping the Lord.

Confidence/Praise | 5

And that remembrance of what things used to be – as well as the fact that their God is still alive – these realities fuel the sons of Korah to express confidence in the Lord and to praise him in verse 5.

5 Why art thou [cast down/in despair/depressed], O my soul?
and why art thou [disquieted/disturbed/upset] in me?

[hope/wait] thou [in/for] God:
for I shall [yet/again] praise him for the help of his [countenance/presence] [i.e., his saving intervention].

So, if the sons of Korah worshipped a God who lives, then they have no reason for despair.

And I’m not sure what you think about your church right now. Are we smaller than we’ve been in the past? Yes. Are we just as needy as ever? Yes. Should we be discouraged about these things – as if God didn’t exist? No.

Do you have the same concerns about Christianity at large? Does it seem like everything that is both Christian and biblical is shrinking in your life? If so, then your tendency and mine is to be discouraged and to start to think almost as if God is not involved anymore. That he’s kind of left town – that he’s not all that concerned about what happens in his world nowadays.

But that’s wrong. He is living. He is concerned. And his people need to hope in him – wait for him to act for us and for his own name.

Hope in God. Wait for God. If he lives, then you know he can still hear and answer us. You know he can keep us going as a church, as families, and individuals who want to worship him.

The sons of Korah were convinced that God would intervene and save them from their troubles. We worship the same powerful and living and faithful God as they.

Lament | 6-7

And yet – how easy is it to become discouraged even after receiving a great encouragement from the Lord? And so, the sons of Korah go right back into lamenting their situation in verses 6 and 7 – and yet, they take this lament – this complaint – to the Lord.

6 O my God, my soul is [cast down/in despair] within me:
therefore will I remember thee [from/while I am trapped in] the land of [the river…] Jordan,

and [of the Hermonites/the peaks of Hermon],
from [the hill/Mount] Mizar.

7 [Deep/One deep stream] calleth unto deep at the [noise/sound] of thy [waterspouts/waterfalls]:
all thy [waves/breakers/billows] and thy [billows/waves] [are gone over/have rolled over/overwhelm] me.

And so, here it seems that these sons of Korah are communicating that they are trapped in the land north of Israel. I tend to think that this would have happened when Israel or Judah were exiled. Typically, the exiles would travel north out of the land of Israel.

And that’s where these geographical features are found – the Jordan River is the river that runs north to south and starts basically in the area just southeast of Mount Hermon. And then Mount Mizar is a smaller mountain near to Hermon.

And in this area with this high mountainous terrain – you see these waterfalls or waterspouts as the KJV says. And the sons of Korah are apparently imaging their being exiled as if God is putting them under one of those violent waterfalls and just pummeling them with this hard and heavy stream of water falling from a cliff of Mount Hermon.

And that might seem to be an unjust accusation against God – and yet, if the context of this psalm is these men being led away into exile, then it was truly God who made that happen to Israel and/or Judah for their sins against him.

Confidence/Praise | 8

And yet, it appears that these sons of Korah – though being led away into exile with their rebellious fellow citizens – they were not themselves rebellious like their countrymen. And that’s further evidenced in verse 8 with their expressions of confidence and praise for the Lord.

8 Yet the LORD [will command/decrees] his [lovingkindness/loyal love] in the daytime,
and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the [God of my life/my living God].

So, even though these men feel like God is drowning them in a raging river fed by waterfalls – yet they also understand that God doesn’t abandon his true people ever. God’s loyal love – they are assured – will be with them all the time.

And therefore, the sons of Korah will have a prayerful song in their hearts to the God of their life – or again, their living God. The God who – although here in this psalm is giving his people over to punishment – yet, lives and exists and rewards those who diligently seek him.

Lament | 9-10

And yet, once more, the sons of Korah slip back into a lament of their circumstances in verses 9 and 10.

9 I will [say/pray] unto God my [rock/high ridge], Why hast thou [forgotten/ignored] me?
why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

10 As with a [sword in/shattering of] my bones, mine enemies [reproach/taunt] me;
while they say [daily/all day long] unto me, Where is thy God?

So, the chastening that these men are receiving – they perceive as God forgetting and ignoring them.

And part of that difficult chastening is these enemies taunting them and claiming that the Lord doesn’t exist. Or if he does exist, he’s no match for their gods – since their gods – they think – are enabling these enemies to take captive the people of the Lord.

Confidence/Praise | 11

But for one final time, these men – the sons of Korah – are going to speak to their souls and insist that their souls trust in the Lord – verse 11.

11 Why art thou [cast down/in despair/depressed], O my soul?
and why art thou [disquieted/disturbed/upset] within me?

[hope/wait] thou [in/for] God: for I shall [yet/again] praise him,
[who is/for] the [health/help] of my countenance, and my God [i.e., his saving intervention…].

And so, this verse is something of a refrain that is now repeated a second time in this psalm.

And this sets an example for us as to how we should respond to things going bad in our lives. Even when they’re bad to the point that they look as if God has forgotten us.

Hope in God.Wait for him to act to help you. You can be assured that you will yet again praise him.

And if things get their absolute worst in this life – you know that this isn’t the end. We have a glorious future in store for us. We’ll be taking eternity praising God like the sons of Korah so greatly longed to do. Our enemies – who now question the existence of our God – will know the awful truth – but too late to be of any help for them.

And the thirsting that we experience in this life to worship the Lord will be completely quenched forever.

Why are we cast down, brethren? Let’s hope in and wait for God to help us.

Psalm 41 Commentary

Open your Bible to Psalm 41. 

Psalm 41 is a lament psalm. In it, we’ll see David pronounce a blessing on those who consider the poor. Then he gives a lament that even though he does consider the poor, he himself is being mistreated and afflicted. Then he asks God to raise him up. He expresses confidence in God’s hearing him, and then ends this psalm with a praise. 

So, let’s read the superscription to this psalm and the first verse. 

KJV Psalm 41:1 <To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.>  

Psalm 41 Commentary
Confidence | 1-3 

Blessed is he that considereth the poor:
the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. 

So, immediately in view in this psalm is the one who considers the poor. 

And when David speaks of the poor he is not solely focused on financial means like we typically think when we say that someone is “poor.” In Hebrew that word can refer to the ideas of scrawnyunimportanthelplesspowerlessinsignificantoppressed, and dejected. Of course, it can also refer to those who don’t have sufficient financial means – and oftentimes those who lack financial resources experience these other problems. 

And we’re challenged to consider these people. We need to think of them to the point where we take the appropriate action to alleviate some of their troubles. We need to help them in every appropriate way. 

And catch that David doesn’t say “Blessed is he that tells others that they need to consider the poor.” Or “Blessed is he that votes for politicians who consider the poor… with other people’s money – rather than his own.” 

And notice also that David is not even saying, “Give them money!” Isn’t that the American mindset – that if we throw money at problems they will eventually go away? David doesn’t even mention money here. 

Why? Well, we have a man that our church is currently ministering to. And when he gets excess money – because, say, some concerned individual with the purest of motives pays his monthly rent – he just goes and squanders it on alcohol. 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 evangelizing them. It might be letting them stay at your place. It might be standing up for them and defending them before others. 

The helpless and needy could have any number of issues that they need help with. And that’s why we’re encouraged to consider how best to help them. 

And 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 blessing from the Lord. 

That’s what David claims. Those who consider the poor – those whose considerations lead to appropriate actions toward those who are helpless and weak – they will be blessed. 

Well – do you wonder what that blessing might look like? That’s what David elaborates on in the rest of verse 1 and through verse 3. The blessings of one who considers the helpless. 

First, “the Lord delivers him in time of trouble.” 

And at this point we need to recognize two things.  

First – David is viewing himself as this very kind of person – one who considers the poor. He’s not just theoretically musing on this kind of man – he IS this kind of man. He cares for those who are helpless and needy. 

Second – David is experiencing a time of trouble in his life as he writes this psalm. We’ll see that in the lament section in verses 4-9 later on. 

So, I think he’s taking comfort here in the fact that God will deliver him – this man who considers the poor – in his day of trouble. 

And therefore, this whole section of David expressing confidence in the Lord in verses 1-3 is really motived by two things. 

First – that God is gracious to those who are gracious to the helpless and needy. And second – that David is just such a man who is gracious to the helpless and needy. 

And we see how else God blesses those who consider the poor in verse 2. 

2 The LORD will preserve him,
and keep him alive;  

and he shall be blessed upon the earth:
and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. 

So, we see additional hints both that David thinks of himself as one who considers the poor – and that he is in some sort of danger. 

He takes comfort in the knowledge that the Lord historically preserves people like him and keeps them alive. By not delivering them over to their enemies. 

But rather – such a man who is concerned about the helpless and needy will be considered blessed on the earth – adding to what we saw in verse 1 – that this kind of man will be blessed. 

And even when David faces sickness – which we’ve seen him through the Psalms often attribute to his own sin – he’s confident that the Lord will heal him – according to verse 3. 

 3 The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing:
thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness. 

The bed of languishing is the same thing as his bed in his sickness. It’s a picture of a man who is sick – and likely as a result of his sin and God’s gracious chastening through it. 

David says that God makes all his bed. What he’s saying there is that he turns his sick bed – as in, he turns it from a sick bed into a bed of rest and healing. He does that by strengthening the one who is concerned for the helpless. 

So, these are some of the blessings that God tends to visit upon those who consider the poor. 

Psalm 41 Commentary
Lament | 4-9 

But now, we enter into the lament of the psalm – where we see David’s reason for complaining to the Lord. And that will take up verses 4-9. 

David had to begin this psalm with confidence in the Lord – in order to prepare himself for dealing with difficulties in his life – with God’s help. That’s what a lament psalm does – it shows us how this godly man dealt with difficulties in his life with God’s help. 

So, here are the problems that David needs to work through. He begins by acknowledging that he had sinned in verse 4. 

 4 I said, LORD, be merciful unto me:
heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee. 

And part of the effect that that sin had on David is that his enemies took it as an occasion to persecute him – verse 5. 

 5 Mine enemies speak evil of me,  

When shall he die,
and his name perish? 

And so, what we gather from that is that these enemies have some reason to believe that David is going to die. And we can remember the fact that David mentioned a sick bed earlier in this psalm. And connecting the dots – it seems that David’s sin has brought on God’s chastening which has come in the form of some sort of sickness. And this vulnerable position that David is now in is allowing his enemies to attack him more easily. 

But what’s really awful is that it seems like some of these enemies are making disingenuous visits to David as he’s sick – according to verse 6. 

 6 And if he come to see me, he speaketh vanity:
his heart gathereth iniquity to itself;  

when he goeth abroad,
he telleth it. 

So, David on his sickbed is receiving visitors. And some of the visitors happen to be these enemies of his. 

And the enemies might offer condolences – maybe even offer prayers for David – and yet it’s all vanity and emptiness. They’re not being sincere. 

David knows that in their hearts they’re gathering iniquity. They’re hiding their sinful intentions in their heart. 

But when they leave his presence – that’s another story. That’s when they go tell their wicked friends about how poorly David is doing. They mock and scoff and plan to do him evil – according to verse 7. 

 7 All that hate me whisper together against me:
against me do they devise my hurt. 

So, to these enemies, it’s not enough that David is sick and in danger even of death – but they’d like to assist in speeding that process. And so, they’re planning to do him in. If the sickness doesn’t get him, they want to. 

But they seem to prefer the sickness to do its work, so they don’t have to – according to verse 8. 

 8 An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him:
and now that he lieth he shall rise up no more. 

And these enemies of course are not just stating simple facts. They’re wishing for David to not rise from his sick bed. 

And then David singles out one particular enemy – who used to be his friend! – in verse 9. 

 9 Yea, mine own familiar friend,
in whom I trusted,
which did eat of my bread,
hath lifted up his heel against me. 

So, David had a friend who turned on him. David trusted this man. David even fed this man with his own food. Maybe he was one of those poor people mentioned earlier in the psalm that David was blessed for considering. 

But now this former friend is lifting up his heel against David. I think the picture there is that of a bug about ready to be squished by a man’s heel. This former friend and now current enemy would treat David as if he were a despicable insect and put an end to him. 

And I think we’re all aware that Jesus uses this verse of Scripture in John 13:18. 

We don’t need to turn there right now – but in John 13 Jesus washes the disciples’ feet. And he uses that to explain to them that we ought to take on the position of a servant and serve each other – just like our Master did for his servants. 

But then Jesus clarifies – because Judas is still there with them – and he says in John 13:18 – listen to it – “I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.” 

And of course, Jesus is speaking there of Judas – who would shortly betray him. Jesus knew whom he chose of those disciples – and he knew who would betray him. 

And by betraying the Son of God, Judas lifted his heel against him. There they were at the Last Supper. And Judas was literally eating Jesus’ bread. But in just a short while Judas was going to do his part to squish Jesus like a bug – by handing him over to his executioners. 

And in that sense, Jesus says that the Scripture would be fulfilled. And we’ve struggled with what exactly that means as we see Old Testament statements appear in the New Testament. How is Psalm 41:9 fulfilled in Judas’ betrayal of Jesus? 

I don’t think it means that Psalm 41:9 was written solely so that Jesus could use it of Judas. I think that Psalm 41:9 has meaning apart from what Jesus says in John 13:18. It has an original context and meaning that are important apart from how Jesus uses it. 

But I think what it means that Psalm 41:9 is fulfilled in Jesus’ circumstance with Judas is this. Jesus embodies the ultimate good qualities that David spoke of concerning himself. If David considered the poor, how much more did Jesus? If David was therefore blessed of God on the earth, then how much more did Jesus deserve that blessing? And in the hour of Jesus’ troubles – if his ancestor David had so-called friends who would betray him and try to destroy him – how much more did David’s son Jesus Christ experience those realities? 

So, Psalm 41:9 is fulfilled in Jesus’ life in the sense that it finds its ultimate fleshing-out in the life of Jesus Christ. 

OK, so that’s David’s lament – verses 4-9 in Psalm 41. He’s sick. His enemies are taking advantage of that situation. And they’re even trying to kill him as he’s in this vulnerable position – this man who has been so gracious to those who are needy – now that he’s needy, he’s receiving not grace from others – but rather abuse. 

Psalm 41 Commentary
Petition/Invocation | 10 

And so, with his enemies and sickness in full view, David asks the Lord for mercy and healing in verse 10. 

 10 But thou, O LORD, be merciful unto me,
and raise me up, that I may requite them. 

And I think probably what strikes us as most difficult to deal with is the reasoning that David gives for God to mercifully raise him up. He wants God’s help so that he can pay these guys back! 

And this can be a little confusing to us. After all, we know that God has promised that vengeance is his – he will repay. And therefore, we’re supposed to leave room for the wrath of God and not take our own vengeance. 

And actually – from David’s own life we see that so often he was not in the practice of paying people back immediately for wrongs done to him. 

And yet – as king, David would need to repay people for wrongs done. That was his job. If these people were breaking God’s laws he was tasked with enforcing those laws and punishing wrongdoing. 

I think that’s what David is getting at. This would be his job as king to avenge evildoing. To pay back those who commit crime. 

In addition, if what David says in verse 10 applies to Christ and his relationship with Judas – think about it. Christ was raised up from the dead. And it’s that fact that will allow him to requite Judas eternally. 

So, there’s an aspect where verse 10 can apply to both David and Christ. 

And so, verse 10 is David’s sole request in this psalm. 

Psalm 41 Commentary
Confidence | 11-12 

So, with his confidence initially expressed, his lament described, and his petition made – now David will return once more to express his confidence in verses 11-12. 

Now, he already expressed some confidence in verses 1-3 in his own concern for the helpless and needy. But now, he says… 

 11 By this I know that thou favourest me,
because mine enemy doth not triumph over me. 

After all that David had been through – by way of sickness and persecution – the Lord had still not allowed his enemies to ultimately triumph over him. So, David is confident that the Lord was favoring him as he reviews that amazing fact. So many against him – even his health failing – and yet, David was still standing. 

And David realizes that he was standing because the Lord was upholding him. 

 12 And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity,
and settest me before thy face for ever. 

So, David’s saying here that he’s been a man of integrity. As we heard earlier – he was one who was concerned for the poor. He took his suffering humbly. He had integrity. And part of the reason he did is because the Lord upheld him in that integrity.  

There’s a tendency for us to think that David here is saying that the Lord upholds him BECAUSE he had integrity. But I think the better way to read this is that the Lord upheld him IN ORDER THAT HE MIGHT BE a man of integrity. David’s integrity came from his being upheld by the Lord – rather than the idea that God upheld David because of his integrity. I think that’s what he means. 

Psalm 41 Commentary
Praise | 13 

And then David ends this psalm with praise in verse 13. 

 13 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel
from everlasting, and to everlasting.  

Amen, and Amen. 

Now, this is the end of “Book 1” of the Psalms. You can probably see that in your Bible. Right before Psalm 42 you probably see a heading saying that you’ve now entered Book 2 of the Psalms. 

And we see each psalm that ends each book of the Psalms end with praise. 

Psalm 72:19 ends Book 2 of Psalms and says “And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen. 

Psalm 89:53 ends Book 3 – “Blessed be the LORD for evermore. Amen, and Amen. 

Psalm 106:48 ends Book 4 and says “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD.” 

And last, Psalm 150:6 ends Book 5 with praise, “Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.” 

So, the ending to the first 3 books of Psalms has this statement “Amen and amen!” The end of Book 4 has “amen and praise the Lord.” And then book 5 ends with “praise the Lord.” So, it seems that what the psalmists are looking for is a voice to echo back their Amen and praise to the Lord! They assert that what has been said is trustworthy and reliable and true! 

So, the Lord who is the God of Israel is blessed for ever! Amen, I say to that! And we all say in our hearts Amen to that, no doubt. 

And I trust that our sense of the trustworthiness and reliability of God’s Word in this first book of the Psalms has only increased and deepened as a result of us studying through it. 

And Lord-willing next week we’ll have opportunity to deepen and increase our heart’s Amen to the Scripture as we begin to study the Old Testament book of Job. 

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

In a mass email dated Monday, October 2, 2017, the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, uttered these words of assurance:

Scripture teaches us, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

But what Scripture is he referring to? Where is this passage in the Bible? And what is God trying to teach us through this statement?

The Scripture passage that our president is referring to is found in Psalm 34:18. And here is how it reads in the King James Version of the Bible.

18 The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart;
and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

What is God saying here? He’s saying that he isn’t near to those who think they’re fine. He’s near to those whose hearts are broken. Our external deeds of goodness must come from a heart which knows how bad it truly is and is broken by that fact.

God doesn’t save people whose spirit is proud and lifted up and haughty. He saves those whose spirits are contrite – or another way to say that is crushed or even destroyed.

And I’m sure if that describes you and me, we tend to view these as bad things. To have a broken heart – to have a crushed spirit. Those realities don’t quite fit the peppy spirit of this age. The world wouldn’t tend to view someone with a crushed spirit and broken heart as someone who is spiritual.

And yet these qualities are those that God looks for in an individual whom he will be near to and whom he will save.

For more information on the rest of Psalm 34, visit our Psalm 34 Commentary.

David’s Petition in Psalm 40

And now, the last section of this psalm in verses 13 through 17 has David petitioning the Lord – asking the Lord for something. And again, we see the element of invocation as well here. So, David will be calling on the Lord and making request of him to the end of this psalm.

13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me:
O LORD, make haste to help me.

So, David wants deliverance and help from the Lord. Why? – Because of these numerous dangers that have developed because of his iniquities.

And you know that typically when there are iniquities in David’s life that have brought about dangers – there are usually what? What accompanies those dangers? Who brings those dangers? It’s human enemies. And it’s those people that we see David ask the Lord about in verses 14 and 15.

14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it;
let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil.

15 Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame
that say unto me, Aha, aha.

These people seek to destroy David’s soul. They wish David evil. They say “aha!” like – “we’ve got you now!

And David asks God to make them ashamed and driven backward and made desolate.

And David says that these people wish him evil. That is, the evils that were surrounding him – they might be to one extent or another responsible for that evil – but there’s no doubt that they want that evil to come to David. They wish it upon him. They want to see evil done to him – whether they are able to do it or not.

And now, though – David is going to point out a contrast. And what would you think that contrast would be? If David just now asked God to deal negatively with those who hate David – wouldn’t you tend to assume that David would ask for God to deal positively with those who – what? – loveDavid?

Well, that’s not David’s first priority, actually. Yes – he wants God to deal out justice to his oppressors. But he’s not so focused on himself as to ask for rewards for those who love him personally. No, he wants those who love THE LORD to be blessed – according to verse 16.

16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee:
let such as love thy salvation say continually,

The LORD be magnified.

Those who love God’s salvation are in focus here – the salvation that David in verse 10 said he declared unashamedly.

So, David does want all those who – like him – love God’s salvation – to rejoice and be glad.

And yet, at the same time he casts a weary gaze back onto his own circumstances and is renewed in his petitioning the Lord in verse 17.

17 But I am poor and needy; []
yet the Lord thinketh upon me:

thou art my help and my deliverer;
make no tarrying, O my God.

So, he’s kind of sucked back into despair as he reviews his poverty and neediness. But then immediately he reminds himself that the Lord thinks upon him.

And then he turns to the Lord and addresses him as his help and deliverer. And as he addresses the Lord as his helper, we’re brought back to verse 13 where David asks the Lord to make haste to help him. Well, here it seems that David is convinced that that’s exactly what the Lord will do for him.

And since that’s the case, David urges him to make no delays in being for him exactly what David knows him to be in reality.

And may the Lord be our helper and deliverer – even in times when we need to go back into the past in order to gain any encouragement for our problems in the present.

David’s Lament in Psalm 40

And so, after praising the Lord in the first five verses, and then going on to express his confidence in verses 6-10, David now starts his lament in verses 11 and 12. And as we often see, he invokes the Lord or calls on the Lord in conjunction with his lament.

11 Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD:
let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.

David mentions here God’s lovingkindness – his faithful loyal love to his covenant people. That’s the lovingkindness that David in verse 10 said he did not conceal. He told others about it. And now, in light of that – David begs the Lord to preserve him with that wonderful lovingkindness.

David in verse 9 didn’t refrain his lips from proclaiming God’s goodness – and therefore now in verse 11 he begs the Lord to not withhold – same word – his tender mercies.

David did not conceal God’s truth in verse 10 – and therefore he asks that God’s truth – again, same word – would preserve him.

Why? Why all of a sudden is David begging God to be merciful and true to him?… This is where David reveals what is causing him to complain in verse 12.

12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about:
mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up;

they are more than the hairs of mine head:
therefore my heart faileth me.

Now, we can be kind of surprised at this sudden mention of David’s evils that have surrounded him. I think even more surprising is the mention of his iniquities.

And by the way – I think we also tend to want to think that this whole psalm applies to Christ. But that’s not the case – since Christ had no iniquities. So – at least verse 12 doesn’t apply to Christ. And at least verses 6-8 do apply to Christ. Beyond that, we don’t know for sure.

But let’s think about what’s happening with David in verse 12.

He’s surrounded by danger. And it’s all because of his sin. In fact, he pictures his sins as if they could take on physical form and multiply themselves on his head so greatly that he can’t lift his head to look up. And speaking of his head, David’s sins are more numerous than the hairs on his head. And for this reason, his heart fails him. He doesn’t have the inner strength to fight on.

And I think this is why David began this psalm the way he did. He reminds himself of what God had done for him in time past. He expresses the confidence he has in God – because he is on the Lord’s side. And he has to do this because all he can muster currently in terms of encouragement and praise is… nothing. He can’t praise right now. He has no confidence currently. He needs to pull back to a past time when God was his praise and when God was his confidence.

Have you been there? Maybe as we’re going through these psalms you’ve been struggling to think of much to praise God about in your current situation. Now – you might just need to think a little harder of what you deserve versus what God has given you. But you also might honestly need to go back to a time when God was your praise and when he rescued you out of a horrible pit and miry clay and set your feet on a solid rock!

David did it. You and I can, too.

And so, that has been what David is complaining about. Multiple dangers in his life that have been brought on by his sin.

NEXT: David’s Petition in Psalm 40

How Hebrews 10 Uses Psalm 40

So, let’s go on over to Hebrews 10. We’ll read and comment on verses 1-10.

KJV Hebrews 10:1 ¶ For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

OK, so the author of Hebrews is claiming that there is some deficiency in the Law. This is God in the New Testament admitting that the Law that he authored in the Old Testament had some deficiencies.

And if that weren’t the case – if the Law was all that was needed – verse 2…

2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.

But that’s not the case. The Law wasn’t all that was needed, because of what he says in verse 3.

3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.

Why’s that? Verse 4.

4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

That’s the key. The Law is perfect. But it was never able to take away sin. It only reminded those who followed it that they were sinners.

So, God brought Jesus into the world. And when he did, Jesus embodied the spirit of the psalmist in Psalm 40.

5 ¶ Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith,

Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not,
but a body hast thou prepared me:

And by the way, that’s not exactly what we saw in the Hebrew text. We saw David saying that the Lord had “dug his ears.” But now here we have Jesus saying that God had prepared a body for him.

The explanation behind that is that the Hebrew text has what we saw in Psalm 40. But now here Hebrews is quoting from the Septuagint – the Greek translation of the Old Testament. And the Septuagint translated the Hebrew as saying that God had prepared a body for the psalmist.

And it’s that translation that the Holy Spirit decided to use in the book of Hebrews when he describes Jesus coming into the world to do something that the Old Testament sacrifices could never do.

In fact, he goes so far as to say that God had no pleasure in those sacrifices in verse 6.

6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

So, Jesus – seeing and understanding these things – now has a declaration to make.

7 Then said I,

Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

And that’s where the quote from Psalm 40 ends.

But now the author of Hebrews is going to explain why he mentioned Psalm 40 – in this context – regarding the Law not being sufficient to purge the conscience of sin. Verse 8.

8 Above when he said,

Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein;

which are offered by the law;

So, he inserts that mention of the fact that indeed the Law did prescribe offering these things. Verse 9.

9 Then said he,

Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.

He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

In other words, Jesus acknowledges that God’s ultimate delight is not in sacrifice – but in obedience. He – like David before him – came to do God’s will.

And – wonder of wonders – it’s God’s will that we be sanctified, according to verse 10.

10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

So, we praise the Lord for what the offering of Jesus’ body did that the offering of animals could never do – purge consciences of sin and sanctify those who trust in him.

OK – that’s Hebrews 10. Jesus embodies the spirit of the psalmist in Psalm 40 of doing God’s will above offering sacrifice.  And of course, for our Lord Jesus Christ – doing God’s will meant being the sacrifice for the sins of God’s people.

So, with that understood – let’s go back to Psalm 40. And the 9th verse…