Most of these psalms are either pleading for some resolution or help from God or praising His might.
What is the Measure of My Days?
Psalm 39 reads more like a prayer to me. It’s not the pretty and consistent kind of prayer that I am accustomed to memorizing in church, either. The psalmist is repentant and asking for God to remember him despite what he has done. He seems to be arguing with himself when he mentions the magnitude of God alongside his feelings of having been forgotten.
My Help and My Deliverer
Psalm 40 is a pretty straightforward psalm of praise and thanksgiving to God. It read a little like it should be a part of the New Testament with mentions of God preferring faithfulness to sacrifices as well as the way it mentions deliverance. This idea that God would rather everyone “love thy neighbor” more than provide sacrifices for their sins is repeated much more in the Old Testament than I was expecting, to be honest.
O Lord, Be Gracious To Me
Psalm 41 begins nicely but soon turns into a call for help in vengeance. I know it sounds a little dramatic to say that but the psalmist asks to be restored so that he can repay the meanness that he receives. I’m sure that’s a simplification of his feelings and I understand that it does incite us to when we feel like people we were good to when we were on top are mean to us when we aren’t anymore, but that’s how it reads to me. And then it almost turns around when he mentions that he knows he has been upheld by God on account of his integrity.
It begins with “Blessed are those who remember the poor!” which does set up the idea that this psalm exemplifies the feelings of some of the poor.
Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?
It looks like Psalm 42 is written some time during the Babylonian captivity, as the psalmist even includes that he is being oppressed by the enemy in verse 9. It’s a beautiful psalm about a person who feels like God has forgotten them, but knows that He hasn’t. He knows that he will see God again one day and is anxiously awaiting that day but also doesn’t downplay the suffering he feels under his enemy.
Send Out Your Light and Your Truth
Psalm 43 is kind of a part 2 to Psalm 42. It’s only five verses long and the last one repeats the refrain from Psalm 42. I’m not sure why these are separated. There is a shift in the request of the psalm, but it wouldn’t be the first time such a thing happened in the psalms. Nevertheless, this time the psalmist asks God for vindication from these enemies that he laments being under in the previous psalm.
Come To Our Help
The psalmist of Psalm 44 appears to be confused about what’s going on in Israel. Again, I would guess that the psalm is written during the times of the Babylonian campaigns against Israel and the exiles. He spends most of the last half of the psalm talking about how God has turned His back on them despite their having been faithful, but there is ample evidence to the contrary in the rest of the Old Testament. The psalm begins by talking about how God had once helped them in battle, which is also documented in Joshua and parts of Kings and Chronicles, but they did turn their backs on him which is documented in the rest of Kings and Chronicles and just about everything after that. I get that this psalm might just have been written by some guy on the ground who can’t see the corruption, but that does tend to be the problem with such things. People can’t always see what we do and when we are causing harm. But that doesn’t mean that God hasn’t tried to get through to them with all of the prophets He sent to let everyone know that they were doing everything wrong. So while this is not a unique sentiment, it’s probably not a correct thought about what was going on there. God wasn’t unfaithful, the people were and God just decided to stop bailing them out of the trouble they get into with other nations.
Your Throne, O God, Is Forever
Psalm 45 threw me off guard a bit. It starts off fine, praising the king and all. Then it starts talking about the “daughters of kings” and this part:
I don’t want to take for granted that she is requested to listen and “consider” the proposal, but why does she have to “forget” everyone? What would be the point of giving a daughter up to the king if it didn’t inherently incur favor with him? Why is his desire contingent upon her ability to forget her family and home? Would she not be able to visit them after this?
I get that there are customs in the Old Testament that had practical reasons for being and many that I wouldn’t understand today, but this just grates on me. The psalm as a whole isn’t necessarily “problematic” but it rubs me wrong. At the same time, it’s written for the benefit of the king and not the bride but I’m not comfortable with it either.
God is our Fortress
Psalm 46 is a rather short psalm that emphasizes the power that God has and the control He can wield over creation but takes the time to stress that He is with the people of Israel.
God is King over all the earth
Psalm 47 is another short psalm with roughly the same emphasis as the last one.
Zion, the city of our God
Psalm 48 returns to the feminine pronouns for the cities that we have seen prophecies and some other psalms. It also references pain like that of labor for the enemies of Zion in battle and something about how the judgments of God are something for the “daughters of Judah” to rejoice about. I don’t know exactly which judgments it is referring to, perhaps their win on whatever battle this was.