Psalm 40 I

  1. Complaint of the Individual, Review of Literary Context

THE LETTER OF ATHANASIUS,
OUR HOLY FATHER,
ARCHBISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA,
TO MARCELLINUS
ON THE INTERPRETATION OF THE PSALMS[1] (see notes)

“And, among all the books, the Psalter has certainly a very special grace, a choiceness of quality well worthy to be pondered; for, besides the characteristics which it shares with others, it has this peculiar marvel of its own, that within it are represented and portrayed in all their great variety the movements of the human soul. It is like a picture, in which you see yourself portrayed, and seeing, may understand and consequently form yourself upon the pattern given. Elsewhere in the Bible you read only that the Law commands this or that to be done, you listen to the Prophets to learn about the Saviour’s coming, or you turn to the historical books to learn the doings of the kings and holy men; but in the Psalter, besides all these things, you learn about yourself.”[2]

Recalling that the Psalter is divided into 3 groups of 50. [3]

The first fifty treats of penitence, David’s tribulations. Attacks upon him, and his liberation

The second set of 50 concerns justice and judgement

The third set of 50 concludes with praise of eternal glory

David in his reign prayed against two types of persecution. First that which is against the entire people of God as seen in the fifth group of 10, Ps 40. The just man suffers from those who persecute him in the temporal order (civics, politics) and sometimes from those who live unjustly.

The second type of persecution David encountered was against him personally, namely Absalom and Saul. The saints suffer either from their own household or from outsiders. Christ suffered from both Judas and the Jews.

Religious elite persecuted JC.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athanasius_of_Alexandria#New_Testament_canon  accessed November 10, 2021

Ca 300 AD, contra Arius/Arianism, first church Father to list 27 NT books, 382 Pope Damasus I will rely on this list, followed by a synod in Hippo 393 AD, Council of Carthage 397 AD

[2] https://www.semperreformanda.com/psalmody/a-letter-of-athanasius-on-the-interpretation-of-the-psalms/  accessed October 21, 2021

[3] Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Psalms Amazon Kindle edition, Introduction, location 133 of 9014 (NB not all Psalms are in this ebook)