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Daily Devotion for May 10, 2014

Psalm 40 | Many, O Lord, are thy wonderful works.
“The Wave”, Coyote Buttes, Arizona.



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.


Prayer of St. Patrick

Lord, be with me and all who love you, this day:
Within us to purify us;
Above us to draw us up;
Beneath us to sustain us;
Before us to lead us;
Behind us to restrain us;
Around us to protect us.
In Christ's name I pray,



[See verse 5 of today's Scripture.]

Prayer for Family and Friends

Blessed are you, loving Father, for all your gifts to me and those close to me. Blessed are you for giving me family and friends to be with me in times of joy and sorrow, to help me in days of need, and to rejoice with me in moments of celebration.

Father, I praise you for your son Jesus, who knew the happiness of family and friends, and in the love of your Holy Spirit. Blessed are you for ever and ever.


Parting Prayer

Lord, pour your love into my heart, that I may love you above all things, and my neighbors as myself. Through Christ our Lord.


Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.

Batalha Monastery, Portugal
Batalha Monastery, Portugal

Blue Latin Cross

Psalm 40:4-10 (NKJV)

Faith Persevering in Trial
4 Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust,
And does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.
5 Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works
Which You have done;
And Your thoughts toward us
Cannot be recounted to You in order;
If I would declare and speak of them,
They are more than can be numbered.

6 Sacrifice and offering You did not desire;
My ears You have opened.
Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.
7 Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
8 I delight to do Your will, O my God,
And Your law is within my heart.”

9 I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness
In the great assembly;
Indeed, I do not restrain my lips,
O Lord, You Yourself know.
10 I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth
From the great assembly.

Notes on the Scripture

The Psalms are generally included under the rubric of “wisdom books”, grouped with Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, and the Song of Solomon. But (like the other four books) this does not describe them so much as set them apart in a group of non-narrative books that needs some sort of collective title. Perhaps they are called “wisdom books” because three of them - and two of the Psalms - were written by Solomon.

They are always poetic; they follow rules and conventions, and it is the poets' inventiveness within those rules and conventions that makes them special. The content must praise God and must concern the relationship of God and man. Other than that, one sees different categories of content: Prayer, prophesy, petition, thanksgiving, drama — there really is no limitation. Ps. 120-134, called psalms of degrees (or ascents), were written specifically for pilgrims to sing on their way to Jerusalem. All of them were originally sung, but the melodic element is a total mystery.

We must always be aware of the extreme difficulty in translating a language that had already been dead for 500 years when Latin was first becoming popular. Scholars do not even know what some of the words mean, much less fully understand the phrases.

The first convention of psalms is parallelism; it was to the psalmist what rhyme and rhythm were Shakespeare and Wordsworth. (There must have been some art and beauty in the way the words sounded, but it is utterly lost to us.) This convention depends on the relationship of thoughts rather than sounds.

Parallelism can involve any kind of relationship between thoughts: repetition in different words, a true “parallel”, is the most common, but there are many others: a contrasting thought; the same thought illustrated by a negative example; a variation; an idea that results from the previous one (a “therefore”); and so on. These can become quite involved and complex, but the simple parallel can be seen in nearly every verse.

So, verse 4 first states an idea directly, the blessedness of “the man who makes his trust in the Lord”; the next line parallels it by negating an opposite: “the man who does not respect proud people and liars”. By implication, the psalmist asserts that respecting prideful and lying people is inconsistent with trusting the Lord.

Verse 5 is a triple parallel, each line illustrating the innumerability of God's works. But the entirety of verse 5 is, itself, a specific illustration of verse 4: why do we trust the Lord, rather than the proud people and liars?

We are, unfortunately, out of room. This short commentary will hopefully help everyone find more depth in the Scripture excerpt (or the full Psalm 40 for the more ambitious). But one other thing to keep in mind: we must remember that both the language and the idiomatic meaning of many lines had much more poetic power to the Jew of 1000 B.C. For instance, “Your thoughts toward us/Cannot be recounted to You in order”. We have only our imagination to give this line its full meaning; but in puzzling out what it might have meant, we find a window into the thought process and religious doctrine of the ancient Hebrew.

endless knot

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James 4:11 (ESV): Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

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