Select Wisdom Brand

Click the image to watch the video.
Scroll down for more options.



Choosing Words of Praise

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Psalms 39–41

The trials of this life can warp our perspective. We need to step back often and look to the Lord and His Word for a renewed biblical perspective that puts our focus on seeking God’s glory. This is the theme we see running through Psalms 39–41.


Choosing Words of Praise

Psalm 39–41

I have read that the average person speaks around 12,000 sentences every day, made up of some 50,000 words. If that were put into print, you would produce a paperback edition of around 150 pages every day.

Frankly, at the end of the day, I doubt any of us would want to sit down and read much of what we said. And we probably said far too much. Someone once said, it takes a baby two years to learn how to talk and then fifty years to learn how to keep quiet.

However, let me just say this: speech is one of the greatest gifts God has given to humanity. We just need to surrender what we say to His control.

Now we arrive today at Psalm 39, and it seems like David has taken a page right out of the book of James.[1]

The heading of this psalm simply says, “to Jeduthun.” He was one of the men David appointed in 1 Chronicles 16:41 to always “give thanks to the Lord.”

Imagine that—his job was to remind the king and the people that God was to be praised. I don’t know how that worked, but perhaps in the morning, when Jeduthun arrived at the palace, he would say, “Praise God for another day.” Perhaps in meetings throughout the day, he would remind everyone that even though they were facing challenges and needs, they needed to thank the Lord. Just imagine that your job—your career—was to thank the Lord.

The truth is, we don’t always use our speech in a positive manner. David says here in verse 1, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue.” But then he admits in verse 3, “My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue.”

One translation reads, “The more I thought about it, the hotter I got, igniting a fire of words” (NLT). You and I know exactly what David means!

Despite his best efforts, he could not hold his tongue any longer. Bible scholars believe his anger was related to disloyal enemies within his kingdom.[2]

So, David now prays for a fresh perspective, and, again, it sounds a lot like the book of James. David writes in verse 4:

Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is.” (NLT)

The letter of James calls life a vapor that so quickly vanishes away.[3] I am reminded of a little poem I heard years ago:

When I was a child I laughed and wept,
Time crept.

When I became a full-grown man,
Time ran.

When older still I daily grew,
Time flew.[4]

David is essentially saying here, “In light of how brief life is, and in light of how good God is, I’m not going to waste my time or energy yelling in hot anger at my enemies, hoping they will change.” No, he writes here in verse 7, “O Lord; for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Colossians 2:6-7, Hebrews 12:28, Philippians 4:4-7

In the next psalm—Psalm 40—David turns to praising God for strength. The heading here tells us that this psalm of David was given to “the choirmaster.” Now this was another interesting job. Jeduthun’s job was to continually thank the Lord, and the choirmaster’s job was to put these psalms to music.

I can picture David writing out these lyrics and walking over to the tabernacle area where the choir director might have had an office. I imagine David and the choirmaster talking through these lyrics, determining the major or minor key. David would have explained what he was thinking and how he was feeling. I can imagine that these conversations were special, sacred moments, and that is because they both understood they were collaborating on this growing collection of songs to lead the people to trust in, praise, and pour out their hearts to the true and living God.

David hands this transcript to the choirmaster, and says, “Put this to music; let’s sing it sometime soon.”

Well, this particular song begins with a personal testimony. David writes:

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. (verses 1-3)

He writes in verse 5:

You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wonderous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with You! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.

In other words, there are not enough stanzas in this psalm to cover all the goodness and faithfulness of God, but let’s sing a few of them. In verse 9 David is saying, “Let’s get the entire congregation of Israel involved in singing,” and verse 10, “Let’s make sure this song reminds the congregation that God is faithful.”

By the way, what are you doing today when you gather in church and sing with the congregation? You are reminding yourself in that great assembly of the goodness and faithfulness of God. There is nothing quite like it, as far as I’m concerned.

Now with that we move on into Psalm 41. This is the last psalm in the first section of the book of Psalms. The psalms found in the book of Psalms actually were written over a long period of time. David wrote half of them; Asaph wrote some of them, and we know that Moses wrote one of them some five hundred years before David—that rather well-known Ninetieth Psalm, where we are told in verse 12 to number our days and present to God a heart of wisdom.

That verse, by the way, is the key verse we have taken for our ministry, Wisdom International, and this program called The Wisdom Journey. We want to develop a heart of wisdom that can come only through God’s Word.

All these psalms eventually were collected into five books—combined for us in our Bibles today in one book. Each of the five books, or sections, of Psalms ends with a doxology. We now come to the end of Book One here in Psalm 41, where David continues the theme of praise and trust. And here in the final verse, we have this great doxology: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen” (verse 13).

There’s a double amen here! The Hebrew word amen means truth.[5] David is saying, “This is the truth, and it’s not only true, but it’s doubly true.” The Lord is worthy of praise forever and ever—it’s true, amen and amen!

If you’re going to speak 50,000 words today, make sure you dedicate some of them to the glory of God. Find a reason to praise the Lord, whether it is something great, like your salvation, or even something like how beautiful those clouds in the sky are today.

Now it might not be our job, so to speak, to give thanks; it might not be our job to write music. But it is our joy to give thanks and sing praise to God today. So, let’s guard our lips. Let’s choose our words with care.

There is an old prayer from the deep south that is a good one to repeat every so often. It goes like this: “Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff and nudge me when I’ve said enough.”

[1] James 3:1-12

[2] Peter C. Craigie, Psalms 1–50, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 19 (Word Books, 1983), 309.

[3] James 14:4

[4] Henry Twells, “Life’s Paces.” There was actually another, slightly different version of this poem. I am quoting the poem here as I learned it.

[5] J. E. Lunceford, “Amen,” in Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, ed. D. N. Freedman, A. C. Myers, and A. B. Beck (W. B. Eerdmans, 2000), 52.

Add a Comment

We hope this resource blessed you. Our ministry is EMPOWERED by your prayer and ENABLED by your financial support.