Psalm 40 shows us that we can confidently approach God in our time of need, and that we can continue to worship and rejoice in him, even when our circumstances would indicate otherwise. It also sets a clear pattern that God doesn’t always tie things up in a perfect, red bow at the end. It doesn’t promise that “all who want to take my life be put to shame and confusion.” That prayer is prayed, but as far as we know, those attempted murderers are still on the prowl. What it does promise is we can go to God as our refuge and strength in the midst of this.
There was a sense of humility and worship around all of it. A sense of awe of God’s raw power. His power to bring up life from the dirt, create the balance of life that I participate in, and the fear and awe of being exposed to the elements in all of their beauty, grandeur, and terror.
He is the Lord Almighty and we can rest in him. So often we try to do God’s job. We put the weight of the world on our shoulders, thinking it’s our job to solve all of life’s problems. We forget that our job is to worship and glorify the King, it’s his job to do everything else. The psalms have been clear that all of our problems in this life are not going to go away, but they are also clear that God defeats Satan. God defeats evil. God is the ultimate victor and we are on his team. We can rest and trust in him through all of the ups and downs of this life. Through the times we are drowning. Through the storm and the war.
It is okay to feel small sometimes. We always need to remember we are significant, have value, and are incredibly loved by God. But we can experience those truths while also meditating on how small we truly all in this universe. As already mentioned, this turns us toward God in worship. But it also helps with our daily stressors and anxiety. It’s helpful to zoom out. It helps to know I am part of something way bigger than me. It helps to know that this whole operation doesn’t rise and fall on my shoulders. It helps to know God was on the throne before I was born and he will be on the throne after I am gone. It helps to know that when something feels like the end of the world… it isn’t.
Covenants aside, this psalm is still a great reminder to let God search our hearts. As followers of Jesus, we don’t want sin in our lives. Jesus is the path of life and we want that life flowing through us and in us. And we love Jesus! He clearly tells us if you love me, you’ll obey what I command (John 14:15). We don’t obey to earn his love, our obedience is the expression and result of our love for him. Sometimes it feels like there are two types of churches: those that talk about sin and God’s wrath way too much and those who don’t talk about it nearly enough. Psalm 7 is a good reminder that we need to talk about our sin and God’s wrath. We can’t fully experience the joy and depth of God’s mercy unless we realize we don’t deserve that mercy. We can only fully experience this joy if we know it is a gift, and what an elaborate gift it is!
We often forget when we read the Psalms that these were written in a real time and a real place. That real time and real place was God’s Old Testament people of Israel that he had made a covenant with (which you can read more about here). They were an earthly nation chosen by God to shine his light to the rest of the world. Within this relationship, an agreement was made (the Mosaic Covenant or “old covenant”) where Israel was to obey God’s commands and if they did, their nation would prosper. But if they worshiped other gods (which they did often!), they would be under God’s judgment and the nation would falter. Most of the years of Israel that the Old Testament spans is of the faltering variety, not the prospering variety. In fact, with the exception of a very brief window of time (David and Solomon’s reign), Israel got its rear end repeatedly kicked by the neighboring nations and the regional superpowers. It’s important to keep this context in mind when we read the Psalms, especially one like Psalm 2.