Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Psalms 38-40

Psa 38.1-8 begins with David asking God not to rebuke him in his wrath and displeasure, nor chasten him in his rage. God’s “arrows” (sharp, heavy afflictions) have sunk deep in him, and God’s “hand” upon him weighs him down. Physically, he is suffering from head to toe, and he could not just rest because of his sin.

His iniquities (his punishment) have gone “over his head” (like a flood) and they are a heavy burden upon his conscience. His “wounds” (sins, stripes-Isa 53.5) grows foul because of his foolishness, as all sin does. He is burdened, perplexed and disturbed in his own thoughts and he is “bowed down” in shame and mourning. His “loins” (thoughts, self-awareness) are filled with futility (burning) and there is no soundness (health) in all his flesh because he is distraught and recounts his troubles over and over. He is crushed and he groans (roars) because of the groaning of his heart.

Psa 38.9-12 tells us that his “desire” (intentions) is to be delivered. His sighing is not hidden in God. It makes no difference if David expresses his inward feelings out loud, or he does it privately inside himself. God knows either way. David’s loved ones and friends stand aloof because of “my plague” (or stroke, blow, mark or spot), and this is how his loved ones were treating him. Others set traps to kill him, some try to injure him and destroy him, while others devise deceit. But Psa 38.13-14 tells us that David pretended not to hear and ignored them, and he made no reply to what they said to justify himself.

Psa 38.15-22 tells us that David set his hope on the Lord. Even now he has not given up. He does not want his enemies to rejoice over him when his feet “slip” and magnify themselves against him. We all slip through corruptions of nature, temptations and snares. David said he was ready “to fall” as he often did. He wants God to help him not to fall. His sin is ever before him and he has a godly sorrow (2 Cor7.10). He says he is “full of anxiety” because of his sin and this means “careful.” He does not want to do it again in the future so he is careful. But his enemies are “alive” and full of energy against him, and for no good reason. They also render evil for good (Psa 35.12), and oppose him because he follows what is good (the Lord and his Torah-Psa 63.8; Psa 119.1-176).

His enemies wish that he be eternally forsaken, and David asks Yehovah to not let their wish come true. He wants the Lord to be close even though others around him avoid him. David wants God to “hasten” to his redemption because God is the Lord of his salvation. The word for assistance “ezer” and it is temporary, but the word used here is “t’shuah” (salvation) and it is permanent. When God is the agent of salvation, David knows it is forever.

Psa 39.1-13 is a psalm that reflects the mood of a crushed man (or nation) who is clothed in defeat and failure. It also talks about the brevity of life and the vanity of it (no purpose). The heading says, “For the Conductor (of the Levitical choir), For Yedutan. A Psalm of David.” Yedutan means “praising” and he had six sons. Just as David divided the Levites into 24 courses to assist the Priests, these six families were under these six sons, and they were under the charge of Yedutan to sing in the Temple. In total, there were 288 singers and 12 were assigned to each course (1 Chr 25.3-7). Yedutan is also mentioned in the heading of Psa 62 and 77. The occasion for this psalm was the rebellion of Absalom by some scholars, and some believe it was written during David’s chastisement as seen in the previous psalm, with which we agree.

Psa 39.1-6 begins with David saying (in his heart) that he wanted to be wise when speaking before his enemies. He kept silent so long that he was like a man who has lost his power of speech. What he wanted to say was “penned up” within him. He thought it was easier to be silent than to speak wisely. George Washington said he thought it was better to be silent because it was easier to make enemies than friends. David wanted to know when all this will end (his afflictions like Job 6.11) and when his death would come (“extent of my days”). He has made David’s life as “handbreadths” (a certain span of time) and those days and years are as nothing in the sight of God compared to eternity. All human existence is nothing but futile, and all the earthly pursuits are vain as Solomon said in Ecc 1.2.

Psa 39 7-11 says after all this, what is meaningful in the world? David knows he can only turn to Yehovah for his help. David looked to God for deliverance from sin (Rom 7.24 through 8.4). He does not want to be the reproach of a “naval” or “fool.” David knows that his sufferings are justified. He wants the wicked punished so that they won’t reproach the righteous by saying, “We must be right because God only punishes you” (v 7-8).

David was silent because there was nobody to scream at or blame for what was happening to him (v 9). He wants to be released from his suffering because he has learned his lesson. Why prolong it because of the hostility of God’s hand is killing him (v 10). With different circumstances (reproofs) he has chastened David for his sins (v 11).

Psa 39.12-13 says that David wants Yehovah to hear his prayer and not be silent. He is a stranger with God (Ger) in this world, so he is not alone. He is a sojourner with Yehovah like his forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. David does not want the Lord to look at him with correction anymore “before I depart” (die) and is no more. The psalm ends without a decision.

Psa 40.1-17 begins with the heading, “For the Conductor (of the Levitical choir). A Psalm of (to) David.” IN the preceding psalms David was in a great deal of distress. This psalm is one of joy after God’s hand was lifted upon him, but he still faced problems (v 12-17). He shows confidence in God and this psalm alludes to the Messianic Redemption.

There is a concept we have mentioned before but we want to repeat it. When Elohim (God) is used it relates to the attribute of justice and judgment according to Jewish thought. When Yehovah (LORD) is used it relates to the attribute of mercy.

Psa 40.1-3 tells us that David praises Yehovah for hearing his cry and delivering him, even though he did not deserve it. He brought him up from the “pit of destruction” (turbulent waters) and the miry clay (a variety of problems and ailments). He put a “new song” (Shir Chadash) in his mouth about Yehovah. The word “song” is usually “shirah” which is feminine. But here it is the masculine “shir” (see comments on Psa 33.3). Every new victory gives birth to new sorrows, persecutions and afflictions, so the feminine “shirah” is used. But here, it is masculine and it alludes to the Messiah who comes with salvation to deliver us from those sorrows, persecutions and afflictions. Then we will have the redemption is full, and sorrow will be no more (v 1-3).

Psa 40.4-5 tells us how blessed (empowered to succeed) is the man who has made Yehovah his trust (Jer 17.7) and has not turned to the “proud” (rahavim) and to those who stray into falsehood. The word “proud” is related to “Rahab” meaning “extended” and to “rav” meaning great. The proud have an extended or over-inflated ego. This word also relates to some eschatological concepts related to the False Messiah like Leviathan (Job 9.13, 41.33; Isa 27.1, 51.9). It also alludes to Egypt, pride, harlot and a broad wall (Psa 87.4, 89.10; Isa 30.7; Ezek 32.12). David praises the Lord for all his wonders and his thoughts towards us. We cannot account for all the good he does.

Psa 40.6-8 is very messianic and allude to Yeshua as the servant of God, a concept you will see elsewhere in Scripture, especially Isa 40 through 66. Without emunah (faith/action) sacrifices and meal offerings are not desired by Yehovah. Even David understood this and Yeshua said as much, too. His ears have been “opened” like a servant’s ears are pierced. When the servant wanted to stay in the master’s house his ear was pierced with an awl to the doorpost of the house (Exo 21.5-6). The Olah (burnt) and the Chata (sin) offering God did not require because he would have preferred that we don’t sin at all (v 6).

Psa 40.7 is full of messianic implications, but in the Peshat (literal level) it was about David. His kingship was prophesied “in the scroll of the book” but in the Sowd (hidden, secret level), this also refers to the Messiah. In Matt 26.54 Yeshua said, “How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled (given meaning) that it must happen this way.” John 5.46-47 says that if we believe Moses (Torah) we would believe Yeshua because he “wrote of me.” But if we do not believe Moses (his writings) how can we believe in Yeshua?

After his resurrection he was talking to several talmidim (students), and beginning with Moses (Torah) and with all the prophets he explained to them the things concerning himself in those Scriptures (Luke 24.27).

Psa 40.8 goes on to say, “I delight to do thy will (in the Torah), O my God.” This also talks about the Messiah who offered himself and his willingness to come and these verses are quoted in Hebrews 10.5-10. The Torah is within his heart (desires, intentions, thoughts). In smaller sense, this can be applied to David also, but the larger meaning is about Yeshua.

Psa 40.9-10 also says that the basar (good news, glad tidings) was proclaimed in the great congregation (kahal). This word is where the word “gospel” comes from. As you can see, the “gospel” was preached before Yeshua. That will seem strange to people but most people do not have the biblical understanding of what the Basar/gospel really is. The gospel or “basar” was preached to Abraham ( 2000 years before Yeshua) and Israel in the wilderness (1500 years before Yeshua), and David also proclaimed the “gospel” a thousand years before Yeshua, and so did Yeshua (Luke 4.16-21). He will not restrain his lips, meaning he will take every opportunity to proclaim the basar. Both David and Yeshua gave public proclamations about the basar.

Psa 40.11-13 tells us that even though David praised Yehovah for his past and even present mercies, he was not going to presume about the future (v 11). His sins were more numerous than “the hairs of my head” and his heart “has failed me” (deprived of peace) and he can’t concentrate on the things of God (v 12).

Psa 40.13-15 gives David’s prayer for help. even though he has many sins he still looks to Yehovah to spare him (v 13). His enemies still pursue him to put an end of his life. David wants them to be “astounded” on the heels of their shame; who follow their own wicked ways (v 14). His enemies exclaim, “Aha, aha” and are very happy to see David’s problems, but David prays for their fall (v 15).

Psa 40.16-17 tells us that David wants all who seek Yehovah to be glad in the Lord. But David (and Yeshua) is “poor and needy” and wants Yehovah to be aware of it and to be quick to assist him.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

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