I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord;And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of a horrible pit [of tumult and of destruction], out of the miry clay,And He set my feet upon a rock, steadying my footsteps and establishing my path. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;Many will see and fear [with great reverence]And will trust confidently in the Lord. Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who makes the Lord his trust,And does not regard the proud nor those who lapse into lies. Many, O Lord my God, are the wonderful works which You have done,And Your thoughts toward us;There is none to compare with You.If I would declare and speak of your wonders,They would be too many to count. Sacrifice and meal offering You do not desire, nor do You delight in them;You have opened my ears and given me the capacity to hear [and obey Your word];Burnt offerings and sin offerings You do not require. Then I said, “Behold, I come [to the throne];In the scroll of the book it is written of me. “I delight to do Your will, O my God;Your law is within my heart.” I have proclaimed good news of righteousness [and the joy that comes from obedience to You] in the great assembly;Behold, I will not restrain my lips [from proclaiming Your righteousness],As You know, O Lord. I have not concealed Your righteousness within my heart;I have proclaimed Your faithfulness and Your salvation.I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great assembly. Do not withhold Your compassion and tender mercy from me, O Lord;Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have encompassed me;My sins have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see.They are more numerous than the hairs of my head,And my heart has failed me. Be pleased, O Lord, to save me;O Lord, make haste to help me. Let those be ashamed and humiliated togetherWho seek my life to destroy it;Let those be turned back [in defeat] and dishonoredWho delight in my hurt. Let those be appalled and desolate because of their shameWho say to me, “Aha, aha [rejoicing in my misfortune]!” Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;Let those who love Your salvation say continually,“The Lord be magnified!” Even though I am afflicted and needy,Still the Lord takes thought and is mindful of me.You are my help and my rescuer.O my God, do not delay.
Author Bruce Larson tells about the time he got separated from his boat in the Gulf of Mexico. A gale storm blew in and he struggled without success to reach safety. He felt the Lord say to him, “You’re not coming home as soon as you think. Can you tread water?”
That advice saved his life. He later realized that he would have exhausted himself and gone down by struggling frantically.
In this psalm David treads water with the dual mood of calm and anxiety while in between the last threatening wave and the next one coming in- difficulty nipping on the heels of deliverance.
In Psalm 40, David tells us of having a new song. Such songs come when we have learned something new of God’s character and faithfulness in times of adversity. Although the song is not new to God, it is to us for no one else knows the depth of our deliverance.
Psalm 40 begins with “I waited patiently for the Lord.” The word “patient” hardly describes the force of the words David wrote. Better would be, “Waiting, I did wait for the Lord,” or “I waited and waited.”
It is difficult but necessary to wait. There are usually no quick fixes in life. We can usually do absolutely nothing about life’s situations except either wait for the Lord or become bitter.
God does respond. He hears our cry and turns toward us. He lifts us out of the pit of mud and mire. We know nothing more about David’s “slimy pit” than we do of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” But we do know our own troubles. He-God lifts us up and sets us on the solid rock, puts a new song in our hearts-a hymn of praise to the Lord. In the forge of our trials, God intends to use our songs to help others learn to trust God. David tells us that God rescues.
Often in the time of trouble we minimize what the Lord has already done in our lives and maximize the things that appear to be going wrong. This attitude will on,y lead to more discouragement and pessimism.
We find the joy of the Lord’s blessing when we choose to trust Him in the trial rather than looking at false solutions to our problems. We discover that our past is filled with the mercies of God and our future is filled with His plans for us. David reminds us to pause and reflect on how God has helped us in the past.
Sometimes when God delivers us, we thank Him and then move on with life. But far above any sacrifice, God wants the dedication of our hearts and lives. Two questions we ought to ask: Do I truly desire to do His will? Is this my sole desire? Otherwise if we remain driven and moved by lesser desires, our hearts will remain confused. David says the time of trial is a time of renewed dedication.
Someone rightly said that there is no testimony without a test. When God intervenes we tell others what He has done. We don’t proclaim ourselves, nor our broken humanity- we exalt the character, righteousness, faithfulness, salvation, love, and truth of Jesus.
Everybody likes happy endings but Psalm 40 doesn’t have one. From the mountaintop of praise, David descends into the valley of need. Psalm 40 reveals that tests follow testimony just as testimony follows tests.
Psalm 40 offers three aspects of David’s trouble:
“My iniquities.” Although God always forgives us of our sins, sometimes we still reap the consequences of them. David had made sinful choices and God had rescued him but the cones of those choices still surrounded him. George Wood says, “The innumerability of Gods good plans toward him directly contrasts to his troubles without number. Your well-being depends upon which big number you focus most upon: God’s plans or your plans.”
“My enemies.” While sin disheartens David, his enemies arouse him. His reaction of anger demonstrates a desire to go on living. David teaches us that we must not personally take the blame for everything. Sometimes it’s the fault of others.
“My help.” David longs to hear something other than the voices of those who speak derisively to him, so he chooses to gather for worship with other worshippers.
George Wood says, “What a lesson for us- to come out of our loneliness, despair, and the hurtful treatment of others into the company of those who say, “The Lord be exalted.” We need the communion of the saints, the fellowship of believers.”
Psalm 40 ends with David saying that he has waited patiently for the Lord before and now he is waiting again. “O my God, do not delay.” Sometimes it may be that all we can do is to wait on the Lord. But that’s much better than becoming impatient, pacing the floor, or trying to solve our problems and needs by our own efforts, outside the will of God.
Here is a prayer thought:
Lord, my need is so great, far beyond any resources I have. Don’t wait too long to help me. I don’t know how much longer I can last. But I promise to wait, relying upon Your promise to renew my strength.
Dr. John Thompson