“40” Days

Forty Days And Forty Nights
Thou Wast Fasting In The Wild;
Forty Days And Forty Nights
Tempted, And Yet Undefiled.
Sunbeams Scorching All The Day;
Chilly Dew-Drops Nightly Shed;
Prowling Beasts About Thy Way;
Stones Thy Pillow; Earth Thy Bed.
Should Not We Thy Sorrow Share
And From Worldly Joys Abstain,
Fasting With Unceasing Prayer,
Strong With Thee To Suffer Pain?
Then If Satan On Us Press,
Jesus, Savior, Hear Our Call!
Victor In The Wilderness,
Grant We May Not Faint Nor Fall!
So Shall We Have Peace Divine:
Holier Gladness Ours Shall Be;
Round Us, Too, Shall Angels Shine,
Such As Ministered To Thee.
Keep, O Keep Us, Savior Dear,
Ever Constant By Thy Side;
That With Thee We May Appear
At The Eternal Eastertide.
“Forty Days and Forty Nights” written by George Hunt Smyttan,
an ordained Deacon in 1848

The “back forty”
a remote and uncultivated piece of land on a farm or ranch.

The South 40
the name for a section of Washington University in St. Louis’s campus.

40 winks
is a short nap.

“Life begins at 40”
is a saying, meaning that the first 40 years of life
help you build the experience and foundation you need to get through the next 40.


The symbolism of “40” in the Bible generally symbolizes a period of testing, trial and then, finally, triumph. Through hardships lasting 40 days or years, we live to become more spiritually aware of our need for God.  The number “40” is particularly interesting and connected to the fulfillment of God’s promises, not all of them are positive.

Moses, Elijah and Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days each


These three important figures, each endured 40 days without food or water. The ultimate test of faith, they fasted to achieve specific goals. Moses proved his loyalty to God and received the Ten Commandments. Elijah gained instruction on how to lead the people of Israel. And Jesus thwarted Satan’s temptations. In each case, they passed their tests and gained new insights into God’s ultimate plans.  It was also 40 days after Jesus’ resurrection, that He spent with His disciples before His ascension into heaven.   Moses: Exodus 19, 20; Elijah: 1 Kings 19:8;  Jesus: Matthew 4:1-11, Acts 1:1-11.

The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years

After being freed from Egypt, Moses and the Israelites weren’t sure what to do next. God wanted them to find the Promised Land, but only after the generation of men who’d doubted His plan had passed. So God made the Hebrews roam the wilderness for 40 years, due to their rebelliousness towards Him. Only when the last of the preceding generation was gone did God allow His people to proceed further, showing that sometimes patience is necessary to fully reveal God’s divine will.  Joshua 5:6.

Three kings reigned for 40 years each: Saul, David and Solomon

The three great Hebrew kings—Saul, David and Solomon—were each said to have ruled for 40 years. Forty years is considered a generation in the Bible. For the three kings of antiquity, this measurement of time also contains a warning—20 years of their rule was marked by prosperity and 20 years by ruin. It shows the Prophet Samuel’s dread over putting in motion the idea of the making of kings in the first place.  Eventually, they’ll take from the people more than they give.  Saul: 1 Samuel 11-15; Acts 13:21;  David: 2 Samuel 5:4-5;  Solomon: 1 Kings 11:42.

Goliath taunted Israel for 40 days before David defeated him

Before David and Goliath became the stuff of legends, Goliath was just a massive Philistine soldier who took pleasure in humiliating the Israelites.  The Philistine and Israelite armies stood on opposite sides for 40 days1 Samuel 17:16, “And the Philistine drew near and presented himself forty days, morning and evening.”  Every day, a new Hebrew champion would come out to meet Goliath face-to-face, only to be destroyed. After 40 days, David, a young shepherd from Bethlehem, was sent by God to defeat the Philistines.  1 Samuel 17:49-50, Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth.  So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David.”, making way for the Israelites­, to reinforce their position for the kingdom of Israel.

God destroyed every living thing on Earth by flooding it for 40 days

Seeing that the sins of man had become too great, God called on Noah, a true believer. He told him to build an ark that could hold two of every living creature on earth, as well as Noah’s family. Then God flooded His land for 40 days and nights. Once Noah and his family found the shore again, God made a covenant that He would never flood the earth so completely again, re-gaining a level of trust between Him and His people that had been lost since Adam and Eve.  Genesis 7:17-24.

Today, God is still testing His saints, however it may not be for 40 days or 40 nights or 40 years, but often this testing is seen as faith.  Faith that is not tested cannot be trusted so if you are presently experiencing a trial or a test, don’t grow weary or faint and don’t give up because God may not necessarily be disciplining you but may be testing you to see how strong your faith and trust in Him really is.  Isaiah 40:31, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  I pray we can all pass the test and remain obedient to God and have our trust in Him remain unshaken.

All the discipline, correction and suffering it takes to get to heaven is worth it.  Following God isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon – and yes, it might take 40 days and 40 nights or even 40 years.  Yet the joy is enduring our trip to heaven and eternity.  Our trials, and there will be many between now and before we leave his world, we as believers will endure through all the uncertainty – so we Trust in Him.  Hebrews 12:3, “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”

If you are under trial or testing and don’t know where to turn, turn to Jesus.  If you don’t know Him, this prayer will ask Him into your heart.  Allow Him to carry your burdens when you trust and have faith in Him.