Psalm 41NIV New International Version Translations
1 Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer. 2 How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? 3 Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD will hear when I call to him. 4 In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. 5 Offer right sacrifices and trust in the LORD. 6 Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?” Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD. 7 You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. 8 I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
David was a preacher, a royal preacher, as well as Solomon; many of his psalms are doctrinal and practical as well as devotional; the greatest part of this psalm is so, in which Wisdom cries to men, to the sons of men, to receive instruction. The title does not tell us that it was penned on any particular occasion, nor are we to think that all the psalms were occasional, though some were, but that many of them were designed in general for the instruction of the people of God, who attended in the courts of his house, the assisting of their devotions, and the directing of their conversations: such as this psalm to be. Let us not make the prophecy of scripture to be of more private interpretation than it needs to be.
Biblical Truths2Matthew Henry Commentaries: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc3.Ps.iv.html
Here, David begins with a short prayer (ver. 1) and that prayer preaches. He directs his speech to the children of men, and,
- In God’s name reproves them for the dishonor they do to God and the damage they do to their own souls, ver. 2.
- He sets before them the happiness of godly people for their encouragement to be religious, ver. 3.
He calls upon them to consider their ways, ver. 4.
He exhorts them to serve God and trust in him, ver. 5.
He gives an account of his own experiences of the grace of God working in him,
- Enabling him to choose God’s favor for his felicity (happiness or contentment), ver. 6.
- Filling his heart with joy therein, ver. 7.
- Quieting his spirit in the assurance of the divine protection he was under, night and day, ver. 8.
Items for Discussion
- What do you tell people about God? Your children; your friends; your family; your co-workers; etc.
- How do you describe the “happiness” in your life that comes from God?
- In what way do you envision God protecting you?
- How would others see God’s protection in you?
- When you hear in the Psalm, “Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD,” how is this light reflected to others so that they can see it in you?
- What are the times and places that you “sleep in peace?” How does this peace relate to your faith in God?
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” 50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
Paul the Apostle calls Luke the “beloved physician” (Col. 4:14). Luke was a companion and fellow worker of Paul (2 Tim. 4:11; Philemon 24). They traveled extensively. Luke was a keen observer of the human condition. Like a good physician, he saw people as they were and he loved them all. His gospel is the easiest to read and understand, because it presupposes that his audience is not familiar with Jewish customs and practices.
In his introduction to the gospel (see Luke 1:1-4) Luke speaks in the first person. This is a somewhat unique approach since the other gospels all speak in the third person. Luke addresses his friend, Theophilus, a name which means “beloved of God”. In so many words he says, “I am writing to you the most incredible story humankind has known.” And this story is utterly believable because it comes from many reliable firsthand witnesses of those who knew Jesus Christ personally, heard his teaching, and saw his miracles, death and resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of the Father in heaven. Who were these many? Mark the evangelist was certainly one of them. Luke’s account contains over half of the verses in Mark’s account (some 350 verses out of a total 660 verses in Mark). Some 325 verses of Luke are also common to Matthew’s gospel. The Acts of the Apostles tell us that Luke was in Israel for some time. This would have given him an opportunity to speak with many contemporaries of Jesus.
Luke was a Gentile. He is the only New Testament writer who was not a Jew. He addressed his gospel to a fellow Gentile, named Theophilus. Luke intended his gospel for the Gentile Christians. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles and likely encouraged Luke to write such an account. Luke wanted to give an account of the gospel to a non-Jewish audience who were not accustomed to Jewish beliefs and practices and who lived in a society dominated by Greek culture and language. Luke wrote his gospel in the common Greek of the day. It was likely written between 63-70 A.D.
These are the last words of Jesus on earth. Therefore, they should carry significant meaning to us. Like a great sitcom on television that lasted for years and is now going off the air for ever, the last episode is always special. The star or stars make a point to leave the audience with words to last.
Jesus leaves the promise of his Father, the gift of the Holy Spirit. Luke brings his story about the time of Jesus to a close with the report of the ascension. He will also begin his other key writing, Acts, with the time of the church and a recounting of the ascension. In the gospel, Luke recounts the ascension of Jesus on Easter Sunday night, thereby closely associating it with the resurrection. In Acts 1:3, 9-11; 13:31 he historicizes4Historicize – to make something seem true or to give something an emphasis of historical truth – Encarta Dictionary the ascension by speaking of a forty-day period between the resurrection and the ascension. The Western text omits some phrases in Luke 24:51, 52 perhaps to avoid any chronological conflict with Acts 1 about the time of the ascension. The Gospel of Luke ends as it began (Luke 1:9), in the Jerusalem temple.
Items for Discussion
- What great ending lines can you think of?
- Why is a powerful ending so important to the overall message?
- What in Christ’s last words on earth are the most comforting to you?
- When you think of the gift of the Holy Spirit, what thoughts does it stir up in your own mind?
- What does the Holy Spirit do for the Christian faith?
- How can we make sure that the power of the Holy Spirit is “reflected in our faces?”
- 1NIV New International Version Translations
- 2Matthew Henry Commentaries: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc3.Ps.iv.html
- 4Historicize – to make something seem true or to give something an emphasis of historical truth – Encarta Dictionary