Psalm 40 (Psalms on the Trail)

He put a new song in my mouth, song of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3 (Talk about morning hymn)

“The Lord set my feet upon a high cliff, making my footing sure.

The Lord put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.” Psalm 40:2-3

On the AT in May the birds are up and noisily staking their territory around 5:00 a.m. when it is only barely becoming light in the forest.   Before I left the warmth of my quilt, before I read the first psalm of the day, I would sing my morning song very softly so as not to wake other tenters in the area.  The birds drowned me out anyway.  I made the song up a few years back using an Irish tune that I don’t know the name of and the words are unabashedly practical.  But the song stuck and became a morning ritual before I ever set out on the trail.  A practical waking song, however, is particularly appropriate in the morning tasks of breaking camp.  I am focused on the most mundane things:  awkwardly getting dressed in a very small tent, packing things in a specific way and order, getting enough water for breakfast and the day, waiting for the privy to be free, cooking oatmeal and tea, cleaning up, taking down the tent, not leaving anything behind.  My morning new(er) song invites God to be a part of this daily get-up-and-get-going part of life.

Blessed are you, O God our Creator; with the dawn you bring night to an end.

You have opened our eyes to your beauty and light and given back our souls again.

Blessed are you for breath and for stretching, for the breakfast that feeds us each day,

And for clean water to wash and the clothes to put on, while your love sends us on our way.

Psalm 40 was one of my favorite psalms on the trail—at least half of it is underlined in my tiny pocket New Testament and Psalms that I took with me.  It speaks of struggles and times of need.  It also speaks of the many things God has done.  Trust and hope thread through it.  It was hard to choose a one verse for this reflection (and actually I straddled two), so perhaps you can read the whole psalm yourself and discover which verse God is inviting you to pray with today.


1. Take this verse with you and ponder its meaning for you throughout the day.  What do you notice?  Do you have a morning routine  that helps you start the day thanking God?

2. Or read all of Psalm 40 to discover how this verse fits into the psalm or to discover a different verse.

3. Or comment with a photo of your own that illustrates this verse’s meaning for you.

Tomorrow’s verse is from Psalm 41:9

Starting January 1, 2016, for 150 days I am posting a daily psalm verse with a photo that is a visual meditation on the text for me.  Each day a verse from the next psalm is chosen until all 150 psalms have been featured.   To participate you may subscribe to my blog at or “friend” me on Facebook and watch for the daily links to blog posts.  Disclaimer:  I am not a photographer and most of the photos are from a cell phone or small camera while hiking the Appalachian Trail or the C&O Canal/Great Allegheny Passage Trail.