5 Psalms a Day: Psalm 36-40

Photo credit: Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington

Psalm 36

Human Wickedness and Divine Goodness

To the leader. Of David, the servant of the Lord.
Transgression speaks to the wicked
   deep in their hearts;
there is no fear of God
   before their eyes.
For they flatter themselves in their own eyes
   that their iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
The words of their mouths are mischief and deceit;
   they have ceased to act wisely and do good.
They plot mischief while on their beds;
   they are set on a way that is not good;
   they do not reject evil.


Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
   your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
   your judgements are like the great deep;
   you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.


How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
   All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
   and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
   in your light we see light.


O continue your steadfast love to those who know you,
   and your salvation to the upright of heart!
Do not let the foot of the arrogant tread on me,
   or the hand of the wicked drive me away.
There the evildoers lie prostrate;
   they are thrust down, unable to rise.

Psalm 37

Exhortation to Patience and Trust

Of David.
Do not fret because of the wicked;
   do not be envious of wrongdoers,
for they will soon fade like the grass,
   and wither like the green herb.


Trust in the Lord, and do good;
   so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
   and he will give you the desires of your heart.


Commit your way to the Lord;
   trust in him, and he will act.
He will make your vindication shine like the light,
   and the justice of your cause like the noonday.


Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;
   do not fret over those who prosper in their way,
   over those who carry out evil devices.


Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.
   Do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For the wicked shall be cut off,
   but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.


Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more;
   though you look diligently for their place, they will not be there.
But the meek shall inherit the land,
   and delight in abundant prosperity.


The wicked plot against the righteous,
   and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
   for he sees that their day is coming.


The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
   to bring down the poor and needy,
   to kill those who walk uprightly;
their sword shall enter their own heart,
   and their bows shall be broken.


Better is a little that the righteous person has
   than the abundance of many wicked.
For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
   but the Lord upholds the righteous.


The Lord knows the days of the blameless,
   and their heritage will abide for ever;
they are not put to shame in evil times,
   in the days of famine they have abundance.


But the wicked perish,
   and the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures;
   they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.


The wicked borrow, and do not pay back,
   but the righteous are generous and keep giving;
for those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the land,
   but those cursed by him shall be cut off.


Our steps are made firm by the Lord,
   when he delights in our way;
though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong,
   for the Lord holds us by the hand.


I have been young, and now am old,
   yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
   or their children begging bread.
They are ever giving liberally and lending,
   and their children become a blessing.


Depart from evil, and do good;
   so you shall abide for ever.
For the Lord loves justice;
   he will not forsake his faithful ones.


The righteous shall be kept safe for ever,
   but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
The righteous shall inherit the land,
   and live in it for ever.


The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
   and their tongues speak justice.
The law of their God is in their hearts;
   their steps do not slip.


The wicked watch for the righteous,
   and seek to kill them.
The Lord will not abandon them to their power,
   or let them be condemned when they are brought to trial.


Wait for the Lord, and keep to his way,
   and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
   you will look on the destruction of the wicked.


I have seen the wicked oppressing,
   and towering like a cedar of Lebanon.
Again I passed by, and they were no more;
   though I sought them, they could not be found.


Mark the blameless, and behold the upright,
   for there is posterity for the peaceable.
But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
   the posterity of the wicked shall be cut off.


The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
   he is their refuge in the time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and rescues them;
   he rescues them from the wicked, and saves them,
   because they take refuge in him.

Psalm 38

A Penitent Sufferer’s Plea for Healing

A Psalm of David, for the memorial offering.
O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger,
   or discipline me in your wrath.
For your arrows have sunk into me,
   and your hand has come down on me.


There is no soundness in my flesh
   because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones
   because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
   they weigh like a burden too heavy for me.


My wounds grow foul and fester
   because of my foolishness;
I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
   all day long I go around mourning.
For my loins are filled with burning,
   and there is no soundness in my flesh.
I am utterly spent and crushed;
   I groan because of the tumult of my heart.


O Lord, all my longing is known to you;
   my sighing is not hidden from you.
My heart throbs, my strength fails me;
   as for the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.
My friends and companions stand aloof from my affliction,
   and my neighbours stand far off.


Those who seek my life lay their snares;
   those who seek to hurt me speak of ruin,
   and meditate treachery all day long.


But I am like the deaf, I do not hear;
   like the mute, who cannot speak.
Truly, I am like one who does not hear,
   and in whose mouth is no retort.


But it is for you, O Lord, that I wait;
   it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.
For I pray, ‘Only do not let them rejoice over me,
   those who boast against me when my foot slips.’


For I am ready to fall,
   and my pain is ever with me.
I confess my iniquity;
   I am sorry for my sin.
Those who are my foes without cause are mighty,
   and many are those who hate me wrongfully.
Those who render me evil for good
   are my adversaries because I follow after good.


Do not forsake me, O Lord;
   O my God, do not be far from me;
make haste to help me,
   O Lord, my salvation.

Psalm 39

Prayer for Wisdom and Forgiveness

To the leader: to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.
I said, ‘I will guard my ways
   that I may not sin with my tongue;
I will keep a muzzle on my mouth
   as long as the wicked are in my presence.’
I was silent and still;
   I held my peace to no avail;
my distress grew worse,
   my heart became hot within me.
While I mused, the fire burned;
   then I spoke with my tongue:


‘Lord, let me know my end,
   and what is the measure of my days;
   let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a few handbreadths,
   and my lifetime is as nothing in your sight.
Surely everyone stands as a mere breath.
          Selah
   Surely everyone goes about like a shadow.
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
   they heap up, and do not know who will gather.


‘And now, O Lord, what do I wait for?
   My hope is in you.
Deliver me from all my transgressions.
   Do not make me the scorn of the fool.
I am silent; I do not open my mouth,
   for it is you who have done it.
Remove your stroke from me;
   I am worn down by the blows of your hand.


‘You chastise mortals
   in punishment for sin,
consuming like a moth what is dear to them;
   surely everyone is a mere breath.
          Selah


‘Hear my prayer, O Lord,
   and give ear to my cry;
   do not hold your peace at my tears.
For I am your passing guest,
   an alien, like all my forebears.
Turn your gaze away from me, that I may smile again,
   before I depart and am no more.’

Psalm 40

Thanksgiving for Deliverance and Prayer for Help

To the leader. Of David. A Psalm.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
   he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the desolate pit,
   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.
Many will see and fear,
   and put their trust in the Lord.


Happy are those who make
   the Lord their trust,
who do not turn to the proud,
   to those who go astray after false gods.
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
   your wondrous deeds and your thoughts towards us;
   none can compare with you.
Were I to proclaim and tell of them,
   they would be more than can be counted.


Sacrifice and offering you do not desire,
   but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt-offering and sin-offering
   you have not required.
Then I said, ‘Here I am;
   in the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do your will, O my God;
   your law is within my heart.’


I have told the glad news of deliverance
   in the great congregation;
see, I have not restrained my lips,
   as you know, O Lord.
I have not hidden your saving help within my heart,
   I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
   from the great congregation.


Do not, O Lord, withhold
   your mercy from me;
let your steadfast love and your faithfulness
   keep me safe for ever.
For evils have encompassed me
   without number;
my iniquities have overtaken me,
   until I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head,
   and my heart fails me.


Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
   O Lord, make haste to help me.
Let all those be put to shame and confusion
   who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonour
   who desire my hurt.
Let those be appalled because of their shame
   who say to me, ‘Aha, Aha!’


But may all who seek you
   rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
   say continually, ‘Great is the Lord!’
As for me, I am poor and needy,
   but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
   do not delay, O my God.


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