# 158 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 40 “A Janus-like two-way look”

One of the important aspects  of being human is the ability to both look back and to look forward. Hopefully, but sadly not always, we learn things from our past experiences that then benefit us into the future.  

Wilcock comments that the psalmist writing Psalm 40 has a “Janus-like two-way look, first backward, then forward.”(# 5) I had to look up what this actually meant and discovered that Janus was a mythical god in ancient Roman religion (see photo), “the god of beginnings, gates,transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janus)

Wilcock then suggests that “a possible division of [this Psalm] gives six roughly equal sections” as follows:

looking backward (vv. 1-3)   looking upward (vv. 4-5)  looking inward (vv. 6-8)   looking outward (vv. 9-11)  looking around (vv.  12-15)  looking forward (vv. 16-17) 


So far, we have considered verses 1-8 and so today let’s take a look at the rest.

[Looking outward]

I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
    I do not seal my lips, Lord,
    as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
    I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
    from the great assembly.   
                                                                               11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
    may your love and faithfulness always protect me.

I’m sure you’ve met the person who talks of believing in God but then adds that it is a private affair and he doesn’t talk about it. Not so David in this psalm! In verses 10-11 he makes it very clear that there is nothing secretive about his relationship with God. In fact,he wants everyone he meets to hear of the wonders that God has performed in his life. Of His righteousness, faithfulness,saving help and His love.

[Looking around]                                                                                                                                     
12 For troubles without number surround me;
    my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
    and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased to save me, Lord;
    come quickly, Lord, to help me.

14 May all who want to take my life
    be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
    be turned back in disgrace.
15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
    be appalled at their own shame.

Despite all the good things God has done in his life and how many times He has helped him, when he looks around, the psalmist sees that life still continues to bring its share of problems, and therefore more opportunities for God to act on his behalf. Sometimes these are caused when his sins have overtaken him. At other times by his enemies, those who want to take his life and who desire his ruin. And so, he again calls out for God’s help.

[Looking forward]
16 But may all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
    “The Lord is great!”

17 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
    may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
    you are my God, do not delay.

And so, from reflecting on the past divine deliverances, then considering his present troubles, he moves confidently into thoughts of the future, and he prays. His prayer looks forward to God’s answer when he and others who trust in God will rejoice and be glad in you, saying “The Lord is great!” He then concludes with a very personal note: you are my God.

 Is it your desire to live your life in order that others can also be “glad in God”?

  Let me finish with a quote from John Piper in his book “Don’t Waste Your Life ( Crossway Books, 2003).  He says: “When I speak of gladness in God…I mean a gladness that has roots in God’s eternal decree, was purchased by the blood of Christ, springs up in the newborn heart because of God’s Spirit,awakens in repentance and faith, constitutes the essence of sanctification and Christlikeness, and gives rise to a life of love and a passion for redeeming the world after the image of God. Gladness in God is a massive reality planned and purchased and produced by God in the lives of his elect for the glory of his name.”

 Do you know this gladness in God in your life? If so, are you seeking to make other glad in Him?

Lord Jesus, thank you that you are the same yesterday, today and forever. You know all things and you are totally trustworthy. Thank you that we can experience your joy in our lives, no matter what the circumstances. May our lives, lived in the joy and gladness of God cause others to desire this joy and gladness in God for themselves. Amen.  

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