Category: psalm 40

Unrestrained Mercy

Remember 5 1/2 years ago when I was memorizing Psalm 40? Me neither… I knew it was ages ago but didn’t think it was SO long ago. Like pre-parenthood long ago. And the years keep flying by. I was reading Psalm 40 this morning during quiet time with God, and verse 11 echoed in my heart:

As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me.

I certainly don’t have this psalm memorized anymore, although it does give me a sense of familiarity when I read it. I remember the first time this verse struck me, the generosity of the language, the idea that God’s mercy can be restrained or poured out as he chooses, and the wonder of having this type of relationship where you know that God will not hold his mercy back.

I’ve been walking through a season of unrestrained mercy in a kind of brutal way these last few months. 2016 came to an end with heartbreak and tumult, and I felt like I had to re-learn every big lesson I’ve ever learned with God. But here at the start of a new year when I have made no resolutions, the simple things like spending quiet time with God feel like a life raft I keep forgetting about. Like, why am I treading water in the cold ocean of life?

Today I am grateful to know a God who invites me to sit at his feet and rest in his presence.

Pin It

Help and Deliverance

I was surfing around on the internet a few nights ago and came across resources to memorize Colossians over the course of a year (only two verses a week!). I kind of wanted to go for it… and I still might. But I realized that before I jump into a lofty goal like that, I should really wrap up my current memorization goal first: to learn Psalm 40 by heart.

So I buckled down, and after much muttering to myself in public places, double checking words (is it Lord or God? Hurt or harm?), I am pleased to say that I think it’s all in there! I will continue reviewing it daily for a few more days at least, and I hope to review it once a week or so to keep it in my mind. Which brings me to the other thing I wanted to do – brush up on Hebrews 12. I used to know so much of that chapter! And, while we’re talking about it, Ephesians 4 as well, but that has faded away even more than I should say. Let it be known I memorized Ephesians 4 before I learned and forgot all the Brazilian Portuguese to do with my semester abroad. SO. It’s pretty gone.

But it is so much easier to re-learn than learn something new, and committing to finishing off Psalm 40 has reminded me of how much value there is in memorizing Scripture, of the depth that you can begin to sense when you spend an entire day focused on one verse and it doesn’t get old. So before I jump into Colossians like a crazy person, I want to soak Hebrews 12 and Ephesians 4 back into my mind and go from there.

I had wanted to post more reflections from Psalm 40 as I went along, but it can be really hard to articulate. I’m not giving up, but I am not going to hold myself to the idea I had earlier of going through in order. To prove it, this tidbit I want to share now comes from the very last verse:

You are my help and my deliverer;

do not delay, O my God!

What struck me was this: help and deliverer are not the same things. A deliverer rescues, releases, sets free. Help… helps.

This is a bit of an echo from verse 13:

Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!

O Lord, make haste to help me!

These two concepts are intertwined in the psalm, but they are not the same. For me, it is a reminder that we have to trust God – whether he delivers us from a situation or helps us through it. Sometimes I think he does both. But it strikes me how David concludes this psalm because he opened it by saying that the Lord heard his cry.

Not to sermonize (too much?) but that also emphasizes to me that when God hears our cry it is no time to stop crying out. Let God hearing your cry be the start of your prayer 🙂

Psalm 40:1-3

I am in the process of memorizing this psalm, and every once in a while when I am repeating a phrase or verse to myself for the umpteenth time, it strikes me differently. I love memorizing because it is such a different approach to scripture than reading for information or interpretation. I am up to verse 11 and thought I would share some of the things that have struck me differently or stood out to me so far.

The first three verses tell a beautiful transformation from agony and insecurity to salvation. The psalmist (David) says “I waited patiently” but we immediately see that God heard his cry and responded. I wonder what patient waiting looks like in this context, whether the “cry” that God hears is a spiritual cry from suffering in silence, or if it is crying out yet accepting God’s timing for his response.

The Hebrew word for hear is shema, and it is a broader word than what we use in English (as always. Oh Hebrew). Shema can be used as a call to action, similar to the old “hear ye, hear ye,” or a call to “listen up!” For God to hear David’s cry doesn’t mean that the sound made its way up to Heaven, so God peeked down over the edge of a cloud to see what was up. No, it means that God was listening to David and was prepared to act, so the next verse tells his response: “He drew me up from the pit… and set my feet upon a rock.”

A to B. Sometimes it’s as easy as that; sometimes it’s not. For many, the journey from pit of destruction to rock of security feels like we are doing all of the climbing, and it takes months if not years. For David, it is still a journey – what is the point in his steps being secure if he has nowhere left to go? – but his perspective on his situation is transformed from hopelessness to hope.

With this hope comes joy: “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.”

And with this joy comes a sign for others: “Many will see… and put their trust in the Lord.”

Weird part I haven’t figured out yet: the verse actually says, “Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”

Any thoughts on the fear response?
Update: Ah the internet and it’s resources… Yet again, Hebrew is too deep of a language for English, so of all the facets that belong to the word yare’, translators chose fear. However, the verse could also read, “Many will see and stand in awe and put their trust in the Lord.”