Saturday: Psalms 40-41 & 1 Kings 8.54-61

From Mark Booker

Psalm 40: An amazing psalm recounting God's gracious rescue (vv1-3). There is an affirmation of the insight of Psalm 2.12 - the happy or blessed one makes the Lord his trust. The true offering that God is looking for is our obedient selves (vv.6-8 - these verses are quoted in Hebrews 10.5-7). That's what it means to take refuge in Yahweh. Those rescued and trusting in the Lord cannot contain their joy, their celebration, but spread abroad the glad news of their rescue (vv9-10). That's a great way of thinking about evangelism. The psalm is all about magnifying the God who is great, all the while being aware of our own weakness and vulnerability - see especially the contrast at the end of v16, "Great is the LORD" and the beginning of v17, "As for me, I am poor and needy." Living with this perspective on God and our selves is central to the life of faith. 

Psalm 41: The Psalms are arranged in five 'books':

  • Book One: Psalms 1-41
  • Book Two: Psalms 42-72
  • Book Three: Psalms 73-89
  • Book Four: Psalms 90-106
  • Book Five: Psalms 107-150 

This is the final psalm of Book One and this book ends with a cry for help. The psalmist urges God to be gracious to him (v4, 10). It's interesting to read of his admission of sinning against Yahweh in v4 and then his claim that Yahweh upholds him because of his integrity in v12. "Integrity" cannot therefore mean 'sinlessness' but must be pointing more to a life of dependence upon God for life and for the future. What integrates our lives is a trust in Yahweh. That leads to actual righteous living but we will still sin against him. In that case our trust looks like confession and repentance (v4), turning to God in the midst of our failures rather than hardening in them and running away (like Adam and Eve did in the garden).

Finally, note that happiness or blessedness is conferred upon the one who considers the poor or the weak (v1). This care reflects the care of God for us and is always a part of those who truly take refuge in him. 

1 Kings 8.54-61: Solomon's dedication of the temple echoes the themes of Deuteronomy 4 which we read six days ago. It's a prayer for Yahweh's presence to remain with them (and God's presence resides in the Temple being dedicated, v57 - though it cannot be contained there, v27), in order that they might follow his commandments (v58), in order that all peoples will know that Yahweh is God, "there is no other" (v60). That ends with an exhortation, like Deuteronomy 4, for God's people to be "wholly true to the LORD our God" which means a life of obedience to his statutes and commandments (v61).