Weds 14 September - Psalm 40
1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
4 Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.b]">[b]
5 Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.
6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire –
but my ears you have opened;c]">[c] –
burnt offerings and sin offeringsd]">[d] you did not require.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am, I have come –
it is written about me in the scroll.e]">[e]
8 I desire to do your will, my God;
your law is within my heart.’
9 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.
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.
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.
- - -
Meditation on Psalm 40
Camilla Dallerup, a ballroom dancer, was one of the contestants on the TV series ‘I’m a celebrity’.
It was she who coined the phrase “I’m a celebrity – get me out of here!”
The ballroom dancer was the first casualty of Series 9. Dallerup repeatedly broke down in tears in the camp as she struggled to cope with the jungle conditions, as it finally became too much for her and she screamed, 'I'm A Celebrity… Get me out of here! '
It seems that this psalm is written by David after he has been going through some very tough situations.
But he is not screaming, ‘Get me out of here’.
Rather, he is reminding us that his trust in the LORD, whilst tested, is not about to be destroyed.
There is so much for us to learn from this.
- THE LORD WON’T LET US DOWN Verses 1-3
David had already raised the matter of ‘waiting for the LORD.’ e.g. Psalm 27:14 and Psalm 37:7.
Spurgeon asks a question of us: ‘Think, ye brethren, might it not read – ‘I waited impatiently for the LORD’, in the case of most of us?’
It seems from reading Psalm 39:9 that David had learned to wait, sometimes without saying anything. There were other times when David couldn’t wait – e.g. Psalm 70:5 ‘As for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God.’
Notice how the LORD responds.
- ‘He turned to me.’ Some translations say, ‘He inclined to me.’ The idea that the LORD turned to me, (inclined to me) is such an encouragement.
Morgan says, ‘the patient waiting resulted in the singer’s feeling that Jehovah was bending over him and listening to his cry.’
- ‘He heard me.’ What an encouragement to know that He hears me when I wait, when I pray.
But it gets better. The LORD takes action.
- He lifts me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and the mire.’ Remember Jeremiah? He was put into a cistern – Jeremiah 38:6 – ‘they lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud.’ This was real and it maybe that sometimes we find ourselves in the ‘slimy pit … the mud and the mire.’ We have a great rescuer. He lifts me out.
- But He doesn’t just lift we me out.
- ‘He sets my feet on a rock.’
- ‘He gives me a firm place to stand.’
- ‘He puts a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.’ Remember Moses? He led the people of Israel out of Egypt to go to the Promised Land. It might have taken 40 years to get there but, at the very beginning, there was a ‘new song.’ which Moses and the Israelites sang.
‘I will sing to the LORD for He is highly exalted.’
And what a testimony this was. There was an impact on ‘many’ who…
- ‘feared the LORD’
- ‘put their trust in Him.’
We all have a story to tell about our journey with the Lord. We all have a song to sing.
- THE LORD CAN BE TRUSTED Verses 4-5
But we should go to Him and Him alone. It’s so easy to look around us and see who we can go to, or what we can rely on.
As we trust Him by looking up to Him, He gives us confidence based on His acts of grace and mercy towards us. We are blessed as we trust Him. To be blessed is to experience and enjoy the favour of God on us.
God blessed people from the beginning of creation. God has blessed people through all generations. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus we now receive the full blessings of God through faith in Him. Paul summarises this in Ephesians 1:3 when he says. ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.’
Then read on through verses 3-14 and see what these blessings are.
Why, many people will ask, should I/we trust in the Lord?
The psalmist gives us 2 reasons.
- the wonders He has done – think of the words of that great hymn, ‘How great Thou art’.
- the plans He has for each of us – there are too many to declare but they are all good.
- THE LORD LOOKS FOR OBEDIENCE Verses 6-8
We know that God ordered His people in the Old Testament to offer sacrifices but this was to keep them focused on who God is and all that He had done and was doing in their lives, both personally and collectively. But there’s more than just a sacrifice that God is looking for. Remember what Samuel said to King Saul when Saul had disobeyed the clear instructions about the battle with the Amalekites. “To obey is better than sacrifice…because you have rejected the Word of the LORD, He has rejected you as king.”
The phrase ‘but my ears you have opened’ (verse 6) refers to the psalmist being willing to listen to the LORD – Lord help me to be a good listener.
The writer to the Hebrews takes these verses and refers them to Jesus – see Hebrews 10:5-7.
In that context, the sacrifice of Christ is totally sufficient for our salvation. We know that Jesus came to do the will of God in offering Himself as the one perfect sacrifice for sins.
- THE LORD WANTS US TO SPEAK UP Verses 9-10
As we discovered in the opening verses of this psalm, we have a story to tell to others.
The psalmist encourages and challenges us to think about how we share our story. He gives us some ‘do’s and don’ts’.
- I proclaim your saving acts
- I speak of your faithfulness and saving help
- I don’t seal my lips
- I don’t hide your righteousness in my heart
- I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
As the old hymn says at the beginning of each verse:
‘we’ve a story to tell to the nations…
we’ve a song to be sung to the nations…
we’ve a message to give to the nations…
we’ve a Saviour to show to the nations.’
- THE LORD IS THERE IN THE TOUGH TIMES Verses 12-15
The psalmist calls on the LORD for mercy and the protection of His love and faithfulness.
- Earlier the psalmist is talking about the blessings of the LORD being ‘too many to declare’. Now he is talking about ‘troubles without number surround me’.
- ‘my sins’
- those who want me dead
- those who want me ruined
- those who mock me
David realised that inwardly his sins were a blockage and outwardly his enemies were against him.
That’s why his prayers are so real.
- ‘be pleased to help me’
- ‘come quickly’
- ‘LORD help me’
Psalm 38 is another heart cry of the psalmist in the midst of troubles around and within.
Jesus made it clear that we would have ‘troubles in this world’
John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
We borrow the words of another great hymn:
‘Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt;
fightings and fears within without,
Oh, Lamb of God, I come.’
We are not immune from the burdens that the psalmist is sharing with us – whether burdens within or without.
- THE LORD IS GREAT Verses 16-17
And this gives us the confidence to keep going.
We have many reasons to say ‘The LORD is great!’
We recognise our weaknesses and failings.
We long to know the presence of the Lord in our lives, in our homes, in our places of work, in our churches.
We long to seek Him; to rejoice in Him and to be glad in Him because He is great and we have a personal relationship with Him.
- He is MY help
- He is MY deliverer
- He is MY God.
- He lifted me out of the slimy pit
- He set my feet on a rock
- He gave me a firm place to stand
- He put a new song in my mouth
Praise the Lord!