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.”

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Susan 25-06-2011, 12:17

Every time I read this story in Samuel there's an emotional reaction for me. You articulated it well – the religious abuse of the priests, the Israelite army desperate for God to intervene on their behalf, the utter defeat and loss both personally and nationally. And through all this time a young boy is listening to God and God is at work to help his people surrender to him as God Most High, to experience the life and freedom they're looking for.

Thanks for writing about this 🙂

Susan 25-06-2011, 12:19

Oops. K, I'm not sure how that comment ended up here… sorry about that.

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Unrestrained Mercy - Moving With God 10-01-2017, 14:12

[…] 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 […]


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