Scripture Reading: Psalms 39 - 41 …
Are you having a good day or a bad day? That's how we "classify" certain days, isn't it? This is what happens when you and I attempt to use our own definitions of “good” and “bad.” We may anticipate a good day as we look ahead and think about what we have planned or what we think is going to happen, yet it takes only one thing to go wrong, one thing to happen that either doesn’t fit with our plan or that brings unexpected feelings, decisions and responses, and a good day can quickly become a bad day. On the other hand, we can start out in a "mood" (you know what I mean!) and have a negative attitude and anticipate a bad day; then something can happen that brightens our day, that surprises us, and a bad day can become a good day! What a roller coaster!! Is that any way to live?
I tend to be an optimistic realist. With Job I can say that I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end I will stand in His presence and see Him with my own eyes. Yet, I fully acknowledge that we live in this world and Jesus told us we would have troubles. Until we leave this world and enter into God's perfect presence there will be good days and bad days … from a human perspective. Some people may tell you that Christians are these “super-spiritual” people who make lemonade out of lemons, but such “positive thinking” does little to overrule the reality of living in this fallen world that has been and is affected by the sinful rebellion of people just like you and me. So, in Psalm 39, David was having a bad day!!
David was wise because the Spirit of God was within him. He was "a man after God's own heart," (I Samuel 13:14), not because he was a perfect man, but because he sought after God. At the beginning of Psalm 39 David finds himself struggling to keep quiet as he looks at the wickedness of those around him. Have you ever had a day like that? I have! Listen to his words: “I said, ‘I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence.’ But when I was silent and still, not even saying anything good, my anguish increased. My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue!” (39:1-3). David was angry at the wickedness he saw all around him, and rightly so!
So he responds. He declares how fleeting his life is and that "each man's life is but a breath" (39:5). He is honest about life and understands the fact that HE is not going to “fix” this world. This world and the people in it lie in hopeless ruin awaiting the just judgment of God. Still, he knows where his hope is! He doesn’t despair, though that is a very real temptation. Instead, he declares, "But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in YOU!" When you are having a bad day, you need to remember that.
David confesses his sin and the reality of God's discipline and at the end of the Psalm asks God to turn His anger away from him so that he may rejoice again. David knows that ultimately what makes a day "good" or "bad" is remembering that God is with you. If you remember that, the worst day can be one where you grow and learn and draw near to the One in whom you find hope! We can't always pick the kind of day we have, but with God's help, we can choose how we respond. As someone has said, life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond!
Psalms 40 and 41 are two of those Psalms where the incredible planning and wisdom of God are displayed. David begins Psalm 40 with a testimony of patiently waiting for the LORD and singing His praises. "I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust!" (40:1-4). What an inspiring testimony!! Then, in verses 6-8, he speaks words that are quoted later in Hebrews 10:5-7, referring to Jesus! There the writer of Hebrews is pointing out how Jesus is superior to the Old Testament sacrifices and explaining that His sacrifice purchased our forgiveness once for all. So David testifies to the righteousness, faithfulness, love and truth of the Lord (40:10).
People today often say they don't know what to say when asked to give a testimony, but shouldn't we who know God as David did, who have His Spirit within us, who have believed in Jesus ... shouldn’t WE have a LOT to say?! "May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, 'The LORD be exalted!'" (40:16). Paul tells believers in I Thessalonians 5:16-18 to "be joyful always, pray without ceasing, and in every circumstance give thanks; for this is God's will for us in Christ Jesus, our Lord." David knew that 3,000 years ago. Whether you are having a good day or a bad day, God always protects you as you set your mind on His love and truth (40:11).
Which brings us to Psalm 41 … "Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble" (41:1). Notice that the Psalm is talking about God delivering those who care about the weak, not only the weak themselves. Jesus is the perfect model of caring for the weak. Verse 9 may refer specifically to Judas betraying Jesus. All of us are weak in our own strength and need our Savior to care for us so that we can then care for others. He says, "O LORD, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you" (verse 4). With David we must say, “LORD, I need You!”
And when you come to God in humility, with thanksgiving for His love and power at work within you, rejoicing in His presence and His faithfulness, He delivers you from your weakness and overcomes your “enemies,” whatever or whoever they may be. Then with David you can say, “Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen” (41:13).
“Heavenly Father, I thank You for the constant encouragement I receive from Your Word as You reveal Your truth through these Psalms written so long ago. Thank You, Father, for Your loving care and protection. In Jesus’ name. Amen