Psalms 41-50

This post covers Psalms 41-50. Psalm 42 begins Book II of the Psalms. Many of these Psalms have prophetic messages about Jesus and nuggets of truth foreshadowing the New Testament covenant. There are also psalms for praise and worship, as well. Let's look at them!

Introduction

This post covers Psalms 41-50. Psalm 41 closes Book I of Psalms, with Psalm 42 being the first psalm of Book II.
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Psalm Summaries

Psalm 41

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David
Once again, we are told to help the poor. It's amazing how many times we are commanded to help the poor and yet, evangelical Christians are known to vote against policies meant to help the poor. This is contrary to what God has commanded of us; Jesus also tells us to take care of the poor in the New Testament (Matthew 25:34-40).

Psalm 41 also discusses the betrayal of a friend in comparison to the mistreatment we receive (as expected) from our enemies. This type of betrayal hurts much more than the injustices we suffer from strangers or enemies. I imagine it hurts God more deeply when His people betray Him (by succumbing to the devil) than when nonbelivers continue a sinful path. In this discussion of betrayal we find a Messianic prophecy (discussed below).

Psalm 42

To the chief Musician, Maschil, for the sons of Korah
Photocredit: Unsplash.com/Richard Lee
The theme of the psalm is thirsting for the Lord. The Word of God and life is often tied to water in the Bible (rebirth/baptism, living water, etc.). It is only when we partake of the living water that Jesus gives (salvation) that we can quench our thirst.

Not surprisingly, God constantly tells us His water is a "living water" (i.e., John 4:4, Jeremiah 17:13, etc.). God promises that when we partake in His water we will never thirst! Of course, before we can get to that point, we have to have an original thirst for God's water. In the New Testament, living water is defined as the Holy Spirit.[4][5]

In middle school, my science teacher asked "What is the only reason for life on Earth?" I gave God as the answer, but the answer she was looking for was water. If you follow the logic of science, sure you may need water to keep from being dehydrated, but if you never find God and His living water, you will not make it to life eternal. Although I didn't fully understand either answer at the time, I realize now that God and His living water is the best answer I could have ever given.

When we thirst for God, we seek Him out, which this psalm encourages. We are also to praise Him for His lovingkindness.

Psalm 43

Psalm 43 focuses on delivering God's people from unjust nations. Considering the era in which this was written, those nations were probably Moab, Egypt, Assyria, and Philistine. Of course, this is still relatable to us today. Nations today don't necessary behave uniformly or follow the lead of their leader (e.g., President Trump only has a 22% approval rate).[6] That makes it a little more difficult to envision unjust nations versus just nations. The passage makes much more sense when we think in terms of believers versus non-believers. As we approach the final judgment the world will become increasingly polarized along that line.

Psalm 44

To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, Maschil
Psalm 44 reminds me of Job; the psalmist discusses the feeling of being separated from God, yet he doesn't seem to know why Israel is in that position. The psalmist argues that they have not turned away from God, which confirms a situation very similar to Job's. I'm sure many of us have gone through similar trials where we feel as though God has abandoned us. In response, the psalmist admits that God has been his strength, and asks Him to return to redeem the nation.

Psalm 45

To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, for the sons of Korah, Maschil, A Song of loves
Psalm 45 is another psalm that contains prophecy (I'll focus on the prophecy aspects below). Most commentaries I've read interpret the psalm to be about a wedding—specifically the wedding of Christ and the church. This explains why people are bringing gifts. The psalm first gives us information on the king, followed by the bride, and closes with a blessing on their union. When we begin to learn about the bride, the command in Psalm 45:10 tells us that she is not from the kingdom she's marrying into. As such, there are also those who speculate that the psalm is about the marriage of an Israelite king (such as Solomon) to a foreign princess. This interpretation is problematic because the king is referred to as God (Psalm 45:6-7) and someone worthy of worship (Psalm 45:11).[6]

Psalm 46

To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song join Alamoth
Psalm 46:1 is likely the inspiration for the song "Made Me Glad." This psalm is a great read when you are going through tough timss as it discusses God as our strength and refuge. No matter what's happening in our lives, we can trust that He will carry us through it. The psalmist uses the extreme of the the Earth being removed, which is also the language of Isaiah 13:13 and 24:20. The worst possible thing we can imagine is judgment day, and the das leading up to those days. I don't know how much the psalmist knew about the end or even the first captivity of Judah, but it something we can take comfort in, knowing that God will always take care of us.

Be still, and know that I am GodPsalm 46:10 KJV
One of my favorite quotes from the Bible is found in Psalm 46:10. Anytime I take a moment to stop, I think on God being God. My mind dwells on this automatically because I've witnessed so much of His awesomeness. I've shared some of my testimonies on the blog, but nature testifies of God all on it's own. Seeing the stars or thinking on how perfectly everything aligns on our planet reminds us of how small we are. We often try to take on our problems when we should give them over to God. God is our refuge.

Psalm 47

To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah
This psalm is one of praise for God as King of Kings. It exalts God as King of Earth and reminds us that as the divine King, God is in charge of the outcome of battles. He will always defeat His enemies, so His people will always be victorious.

"O clap your hands all ye people" from Psalm 47:1 has been made into a song. Many people have sung a song by this title, but it also appears as a single line in many worship songs as well. It is fitting that we have placed this line in so many songs when the psalm actually is a song of praise to exalt God. Another song that epitomizes the words of this psalm is "Every Praise" by Hezekiah Walker.

Psalm 48

A Song and Psalm for the sons of Korah
This psalm focuses on the home of God, though it reiterates the hope we have in God and triumph of God's people over those who do not worship God.

God compares the fear and pain of the kings of kingdoms not under His rule as the pain of labor. This metaphor is also used in Matthew 24 and Isaiah 13 when discussing the end of time. I find this interesting for several reasons: from the the fall, Eve's punishment was pain in bringing forth children; a woman often symbolizes the church; a baby could be called the fruit of the womb; and the Bible constantly talks about the fruit identifying the tree.

Psalm 49

To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah
Photocredit: Unsplash.com/Thought Catalog
The first verse of Psalm 49 makes me feel like I'm in God's kingdom listening to one of the angels begin a royal proclamation straight from God. What's so beautiful about this introduction is that everyone is addressed. Regardless of a person's status in society, the message presented was meant to be heard. One of the reasons the message is for everyone is because in the end, everyone dies. Sure, our eternal fate may be different, but we all have to experience the first death (assuming we aren't part of the 144,000 who witness Jesus' second coming). No matter how rich and powerful you are, when your time is up, your time is up. Immediately after telling us who the message is for, the author prefaces that these are "dark" words (i.e., heavy and possibly uncomfortable to think about) and reveals that he was given these words through a parable—the most popular method of teaching used by Jesus in the New Testament.

An important point made in this passage is the worthlessness of money in comparison to our soul. In society, money is needed for everything, from luxury and extravagance to basic meals. This is why it's easy for people to think money can solve their problems snd make them happy. However, no amount of money can pay for the sins we commit. This is great news for those of us who have no money, but was probably disheartening to the rich and powerful who thought they could get away with anything. The only thing that can ransom us (re: pay for our sins) is Jesus blood.

While the passage is definitely cautious of money, it makes a point not to condemn money. Remember servants of God like Job, David, and Solomon were all wealthy. God blesses us with what He sees fit, so He just might make you wealthy. The important thing is not to get caught up in the riches. We are never to depend on the money to get us out of situations or to let it control your decisions. The passage reminds us that we can't take material wealthy with us when we leave, something my grandmother used to say on the regular. Essentially the passage is telling us to set our minds on Heaven, not on what makes us "successful" in this world.

There's also a popular church phrase that comes from this psalm. Growing up, people often used to say something like "let the words of my mouth and the meditation of the heart be on the Lord." It seemed like something someone came up with that simply caught on as a church saying; little did I know it's from Psalm 49!

Psalm 50

A Psalm of Asaph
A lot of us misunderstand the Old Testament; the laws seem so different from ours today that people often question the character of God because they've missed key points of understanding. I talk about this in general in other posts, but Psalm 50 addresses the topic of animal sacrifice. Animal rights activists would have a conniption if any of the world religions went back to practicing animal sacrifice, and most of us would think that was pretty weird and twisted as well. Yet, it was a major part of the Israelite's daily life.

Interestingly, God despised the sacrifices. He didn't want to see innocent animals constantly killed because we were messing up. From the beginning, God just wanted us to love Him, and as Jesus says in the New Testament, "if [we] love [Him], [we] will keep [His] commandments." One of the biggest problems back then is that the people lost sight of the relationship with God aspect and focused solely on laws and sacrifices. That's like marrying someone and instead of focusing on strengthing your relationship and building a future with that person, your focus is on buying presents and not cheating. If you love the person and build a relationship, you won't have the desire to cheat, and your presence will likely be present enough. However, if there's no relationship, that temptation to cheat will grow and grow, making it more likely that you do cheat.

Another thing I want to point out is that these sacrifices were also tied to eating flesh. All of the meat eaten by Israelites would have come from sacrifices. Thus, while fruits and veggies should be reminders of the Garden of Eden, meat should have be a reminded of sin and it's consequences.

Speaking of sin and it's consequences, the latter half of the psalm is a condemnation of wickedness. It speaks against being an enabler for evildoers. We often see people doing wrong, but we've taught to live and let live so we don't say anything. We allow, and by proxy of not condemning, endorse behavior that God abhors. It even explains that although God may not cut you down immediately for such actions, punnishment is coming for those who do not repent and change their ways.
Now consider this, ye that forget God,
lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.
Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me:
and to him that ordereth his conversation aright
will I shew the salvation of God.Psalms 50:22-23 KJV

Messianic Verses

Psalm 41:9

Psalm 41:9 references the betrayal committed by Judah that leads to the crucifixion of Christ. In the verse, the person shares his bread (or some type of food) with the betrayer. Breaking bread with someone is a sign of trust and friendship, so that makes the betrayal that much more devastating. Also, this specific reference is likely referring to the las supper in which Jesus informs the disciples that he knows someone is betraying Him. Although the person will betray Him, the rest of the passage goes on to claim victory of the enemies that the betrayer has aligned himself with. Although Jesus was crucified, as His enemies wanted, He rose from the dead victorious.

Psalm 45:6-7

Though the major focus is on Psalm 45:6-7, there are quite a few things that stand out as being prophetic in Psalm 45. Verses 6 and 7 make us aware that the king discussed in the passage isn't an ordinary king; since He is referred to as God, and subsequently declared worthy of worship (Psalm 45:11), this king must be Jesus. The apostles understood the psalm to be in reference to Jesus, as well. Hebrews 1:8-9 quotes these exact verses and attributes them to Christ. The church being the bride of Christ is an image depicted through out the Bible, and the marriage supper is discussed in Revelation 19.

Interestingly, those bearing gifts are all daughters from foreign (and pagan) nations like Tyre. Since women often represent churches in prophecy, I wonder if this is an allusion to the false churches and religions. After being brought low, perhaps they offer gifts to the king and queen hoping for reconciliation and redemption (though I think the wicked would already be cast in the lake of fire by the time of the marriage ceremony for Christ and the Church). Other passages in the Bible tell us that there will still be nations and kingdoms after He sets up His reign, the difference is that they will all be ruled by Him. Perhaps these are the people coming forth to offer the bride gifts.

The Meaning of Selah

Scholars are unsure what selah means; it appears frequently in Psalms and occasionally in Habbakuk, but no where else in the Bible. It is thought that the word was derived from Hebrew words meaning "to praise," "to lift up," and "to pause." Since the psalms are often prayers and songs, it is possible that selah was a musical instruction for performers.[2]

The Meaning of Maschil

The title of some of these psalms contain the hard-to-define word Maschil; it appears in the title of 13 psalms. Scholars aren't sure what the word means but believe it may be derived from a word that means "insight."[1] Many interpret it to mean "with understanding," while others believe it is a musical instrument or instruction.[3]

References

  1. Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible, pg. 938,940. 2014
  2. "What does selah mean in the Bible?". GotQuestions.org; visited June 2017
  3. "Maschil". Bible Hub; visited July 2017
  4. John 7:37–39
  5. "What did Jesus mean when He spoke of living water?". GotQuestions.org; visited August 2017
  6. Matthew Henry. "Psalms 45 Commentary". Bible Study Tools; visited June 2018

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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