Psalm 40: a new song
Psalm 40 For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. (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. (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- burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. (7) Then I said, "Here I am, I have come- it is written about me in the scroll. (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.
A psalm of David. This is conclusive as to the authorship: lifted by the Holy Spirit into the region of prophecy, David was honored to write concerning a far greater one than himself.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
Psalm 40 My Help and My Deliverer To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. ESV
Written to the choir director, Chief Musician, or the director of music, depending upon translations. This is a song, not only a personal hymn from the heart- intended to be sung in worship together.
And we will see that Jesus is found here.
I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1 NLT I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1 ESV
In his psalms, David often speaks of “waiting for the Lord.” Do you know that feeling of sharing what you need, feeling alone, down and out, and just waiting for the Lord to move? David does too, and he speaks of it often in the psalms.
And then the beautiful picture of God turning toward him, inclining to him. This is God closing the distance between Him and His child as He leans down to be closer, to share the safety of His presence.
What a beautiful picture.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. Psalm 40:2-3 ESV
God turned His face to David. He leaned down and pulled him up from a terrible pit and set his feet on the Rock. And not only that, but David was then filled with joy. The weight of worry and fear was lifted as God took a hold of him, and he could do nothing but sing praises.
Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told. Psalm 40:4-5 ESV
“Your thoughts toward us!” The NIV says, “the things you have planned for us.” But whatever the translation, God thinks about His children! Have you seen the world lately? How can the God of the universe have time or energy to think about us? But He does.
Oh LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I am far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. Psalm 139:1-4 NLT
God’s thoughts of love are very many, very wonderful, very practical! Muse on them, dear reader; no sweeter subject ever occupied your mind. God’s thoughts of you are many, let not yours be few in return.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
My friends, never doubt who care about you; who watches over you; who protects you even when you do not know you need protection. Don’t put Him in a human box and try to understand how this is possible, just know. The Bible speaks Truth.
Jesus taught us this in Matthew’s gospel:
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26 ESV Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:30-31 ESV
The God of the universe thinks of you and watches over you. His eye is on you.
Here we enter upon one of the most wonderful passages of the whole of the Old Testament, a passage in which the incarnate Son of God is seen not through a glass darkly; but as it were face to face.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
My friends, this psalm is a prophecy of Jesus, and some commentators address verse 7 as the most powerful of all:
Then I said, "Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me Psalm 40:7 ESV Then I said, "Look, I have come. As is written about me in the Scriptures Psalm 40:7 NLT
Think about it. The God of the universe didn’t send someone else to help His children. He, Himself, came to help us. In a “prepared body,” Jesus, the human form of God, came to earth to walk amongst us; to teach us, to show us, to lead us, to His spread love and truth.
The write of Hebrews says this:
Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were pleased. Then I said, 'Here I am- it is written about me in the scroll- I have come to do your will, my God.'" Hebrews 10:5-7
The writer of Hebrews is unknown. Many believe, and church history up to the 1800’s supported, Paul is the author. But since then, scholars have said there is not enough evidence to know who wrote the book. Some suggest Luke wrote the letter after Paul gave a sermon on the subject, other say Barnabas or Priscilla. Martin Luther even suggested Apollos.
With works like this, we have faith in the Divine Authorship of Hebrews, as everything else in the Bible. The human hand is unimportant, the Holy Spirit is the author of this book.
In the above verses, Jesus quoted from Psalm 40. David spoke of the coming Messiah.
Jesus knew David’s words, and He knew that someday we would read these words and take comfort in God’s Plan through time. The intricately woven story of God’s people.
Take comfort in that today.
God sees our hearts. He does not require sacrifice and offering in the Old Testament sense. But He does require something else.
Our hearts. An obedient heart.
I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart. Psalm 40:8 NLT
We learn from this verse that Jehovah values far more the obedience of the heart than all the imposing performances of ritualistic worship; and that our expiation from sin comes not to us as the result of an elaborate ceremonial, but as the effect of our great Substitute’s obedience to the will of Jehovah.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
I have told all your people about your justice. I have not been afraid to speak out, as you, O LORD, well know. I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart; I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power. I have told everyone in the great assembly of your unfailing love and faithfulness. LORD, don't hold back your tender mercies from me. Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me. For troubles surround me- too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can't see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage. Psalm 40:9-12 NLT
Part of the “new song” in David’s heart was to tell all the people about what God had done for him. Here David tells God, and probably reminds and reassures himself, that he shared the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness and faithfulness.
But just like other psalms written by David, he doesn’t get too full of himself with all that he did do for God. He swings back around to plead with God for more help, that trouble feels like it’s caving in on him, and that he is a sinner.
In fact, his sin threatens to overwhelm him. He cannot see over the pile of it; he cannot get out by himself. David once again calls on his Father to save him.
But that truly is the Good News. That we can share the love of Jesus with our neighbor, only to come home and fall on our faces in confession, only for God to reach down and lift us up again. Again and again.
Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me! Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether who seek to snatch away my life; let those be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt! Let those be appalled because of their shame who say to me, "Aha, Aha!" Psalm 40:13-15 ESV
In these verses, we are reminded that David was in trouble. He was a sinner, yes. God was faithful, always. But he was also living in fear. He doesn’t say why, but we know David had periods of peace and of struggle in his life. David knew he needed God . . . always. In good times and bad.
This is David speaking, but is it also not prophetic of Jesus and how He was treated when He walked this earth and especially as He approached death?
David went from pleading for God’s help and strength, to joy at his salvation, back to pleading for help again. And it happens again in the final two verses:
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, "Great is the LORD!" As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God! Psalm 40:16-17 ESV
David reminds us all here: when we are in need, when we are crying out to God, not to forget to rejoice and be glad! Do not forget to love your salvation. Do not forget to say continually, “Great is the LORD!” In the midst of worry and trail and fear and suffering, rejoice.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4
This is a promise throughout the Bible. Also, a command. During hard times, we are to rejoice in the Lord.
David stops again: “But as for me, I am poor in spirit and oh so needy, but God still finds time to be there for me.”
In the midst of our prayers to God- prayers that can often be messy- remember to rejoice in who God is, His faithfulness, His love, and His grace. Doesn’t that just help clear up our minds and our prayers?
But, like David, don’t fret when your prayers go back to the worries of “the pit” because God knows and understands and will meet you wherever you are.
Father in heaven, you are good and faithful. Thank you for your word and for this psalm. Thank you that you care so much about each of us that you think about us, that your eye is on us. We want to rejoice in you. Teach us to do so. Put a new song in our hearts and give us hope. We love you. Amen.