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Psalm 40

Psalm 40

We are in the midst of a series of messages on some of the Bible’s Psalms.

So far, we have considered Psalm 62 and verses 41 through 48 of Psalm 119.

In Psalm 62, David claimed God as his rock, salvation, fortress, and refuge. The challenge is that we, too, have God - God only - as our solid base, source of freedom, stronghold of protection, and place of safety.

In Psalm 119 there is a proclamation of God’s steadfast love, salvation, and hope, all of which bring spiritual liberty - the freedom to avoid the penalty of sin and the freedom to live righteously. That was the joy of David. The challenge is that we, too, claim spiritual liberty and walk in it daily.

In this message, Psalm 40. Another Psalm of David. A Psalm written to the choirmaster, which I think means the music leader had permission to use what David wrote in services the music leader planned. I think that permission extends to us so we can also celebrate the blessings David mentioned in Psalm 40.

Verse 1 and 2. David, sometime before he wrote the Psalm, had been in “a desolate pit.” A pit with “miry clay.”

It is not shared in the Psalm what pit David had been in, nor what caused it to be so muddy he could not work himself out of it. Maybe the pit refers to so many enemies around him that he felt surrounded. We know he had foreign enemies. We know he had family enemies. We know he had troubles caused by his own human nature. Maybe having so many enemies caused such discouragement that he felt all he could do was slip and slide rather than get a foothold to climb out of his troubles.

The specifics are not given. David just stated he had been suffering under his troubles. That statement is in verse 2. But listen to verse 1. In the midst of all the problems and the discouragement they caused, he had “waited for the LORD.” He had waited “patiently.” While he had waited, he had cried out to God. He had prayed to God, doing so fervently. That is what we are to do as well, whenever we are troubled.

Even while in a pit of muddy clay, at least emotionally, David clung to hope. Hope in God. And this needs to be mentioned. It is at least suggested that David had hoped in no one and nothing else but God. Remember Psalm 62? David wrote that God alone was his help. He promised to rely on God only. 

Here is the same thought. The only one in whom he did hope and would hope was God.

The reward? God had heard. Back to verse 2. God - no other person, no other thing, not David himself - God had drawn him “up from the pit and had set his feet upon a rock, making [his] steps secure.” 

Let me mention this as well. It seems God’s help was not immediate. The sense I get is that David had had to keep hoping and keep crying out. Hence the wording that he “waited for the LORD.” I think that is an important point if or when any of our prayers are not answered immediately. The challenge is to not give up, but to keep hoping and keep praying. That is what David did. It worked out very well for him. May we do the same.

God heard David’s prayers. He answered David’s prayers. God rescued him from the pit he was in. God placed David’s feet on a rock. Not literally, but in the sense he was free from his discouragement, able to walk securely.

What relief David felt. A relief he promised to share with others. Verse 3. “God put a new song in his mouth, a song of praise to our [not just his] God.”

And listen. The song was not to be kept only to David. If a song is in our mouths, we are to sing it. That is what David intended to do. He looked forward to knowing many other people, when they heard his new song, would “see, fear, and also put their trust in the LORD.”

To David, that was a good thing for himself and for others. Verse 4. “Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust.” The LORD only. Blessed is the one who trusts in God “and does not turn to the proud or to those who go astray after false gods.” 

The proud refers to those who rely on themselves, which might work for a while, but will never work for all eternity because it is God who saves from sin. And again the point is that God alone is to be relied on. 

Concerning other gods, in the world there have always been gods others have believed in. Those other gods were at least familiar to David, but all other gods are false gods. They are not to be relied on. Only our one true God is worthy of trust. Blessed are all who trust only in our one true God.

Speaking of our one true God, verses 5. “O LORD my God, You have multiplied Your wondrous deeds and Your thoughts toward us.” 

God had done wonderful deeds, including creation and helping His people out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land and giving His people laws and direction for life and protecting David both before and while he was king of God’s people.

God continued to do wondrous deeds, including rescuing David from the muddy pit he had been in.

No one can compare with God. David wrote that. In fact, so great were God’s deeds and thoughts that they were too many to proclaim. They were and are “more than can be numbered.”

In verses 1 through 5, David proclaimed God had helped him. David wrote about that help, his purpose being to convince others to also trust in God because of the LORD’S deeds and thoughts. What is to happen then? Verses 6 through 8. We who trust in God are to delight to do God’s will.

So great is God’s desire for that to happen that He desires it more than sacrifices and offerings. Sacrifices were important in the Old Testament. They were instituted by God Himself. However, even more important is delighting to do God’s will. To do His work as He directs.

Of course, in order for any of us to do God’s will, we need to know His will. How can His will be learned? By studying and praying, which David promised to do in verse 8. “I delight to do Your will, O my God. Your law is within my heart.” David intended to keep studying, learning, and praying about God’s law. He intended to concentrate on God’s law. He intended to use God’s law as the basis of all he did as he walked on solid ground. That is how he wanted to be known.

And once again, David did not intend to keep his closeness to God to himself. He did not want his relationship with God to be a secret. Verses 9 and 10. 

“I have told the glad news of God’s deliverance in the great congregation.” David had told others about God’s help.

“I have not restrained my lips, as You know.” David joyfully shared God with others.

“I have not hid Your saving help within my heart, but I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation. Neither have I concealed Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness from the great congregation.”

David told of God’s help, His faithfulness, His salvation, and His love.

What did David count on receiving because of his trust in God, expressed so far is Psalm 40? Not that David deserved anything, but he knew he would be blessed for trusting in God. So, too, will we be blessed as we trust. 

Verse 11. David prayed. Isn’t that an interesting point. Yes, David counted on some blessings, but he did not demand them. He asked for them.

David prayed, “Do not, O LORD, withhold Your mercy from me. Let Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness ever preserve me.”

Mercy is receiving what is not deserved. That is what David requested from God. That is what he wanted around him to protect him. Mercy seen in God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. We, too, are to pray for God’s mercy to protect us.

That is so important because, verse 12, “For evils have encompassed me without number.” Remember David had been drawn out of a muddy pit, but that did not eliminate new problems. He had new attacks from evil.

In addition, his own iniquities had overtaken him. He recognized his own sins were more numerous “than the hairs of his head.” In the face of that, his “heart failed” him. That is how ashamed he was. 

Which led to him asking, in prayer, to again be delivered. Verse 13. “Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!”

David knew what would be the results of God’s help. Verses 14 and 15. His enemies would be put to “shame, confusion, and dishonor.” His enemies would “be appalled.” They might have thought they had destroyed David, but with God, he would be delivered and helped.

With that deliverance - not just his own, but all who are delivered - the promise in verse 16 is that “all who seek God will rejoice and be glad” in Him. They - we who are saved from our sins - will be able to proclaim continually, “Great is the LORD!”

Then verse 17. What a humble way to close Psalm 40. David wrote, “As for me, I am poor and needy.” What a recognition that he was still not perfect. Neither are we. “But the Lord takes thought for me.” David still was going to rely on God. So are we to rely on Him alone. David again proclaimed, as we are to do, “You, LORD, are my help and my deliverer.”  In all times of trouble comes the plea, “Do not tarry, O my God!”

*       *       *       *       *

A few closing comments. 

The first comes from the New Testament. It centers on someone else whose own nature had got him into spiritual trouble. 

That someone was Paul. We know him mostly as a great missionary, but before he became a Christian, he was a very dangerous man. Listen to how he described himself in chapter 1 of I Timothy. He was a “blasphemer.” As a Jew, He did not use God’s name in vain, but when he fought against followers of Jesus, that was blaspheming God. He persecuted and insulted Christians, meaning he persecuted and insulted Jesus. He was so violent in his opposition to followers of Christ, he was, he himself wrote, “the foremost of sinners.”

That was not a brag. It was a statement of fact. Paul had been the biggest, most effective enemy of Jesus and His followers.

Because of that, Paul deserved nothing from God. No blessings of any kind. But remember Jesus had plans for Paul. The plans were for Paul to use his energy and enthusiasm, not to fight against Christians, but to spread the Christian message through Asia and Europe among non-Jewish people.

You know what those plans represent. God’s mercy. God’s love and faithfulness. God gave Paul a chance. He gave Paul an opportunity to change his ways and do what was right to do.

How wonderful that when Paul was confronted by Jesus, he accepted the Lord’s mercy and did indeed become a very important missionary for the Lord.

And remember the part of Psalm 40 about being given a new song to sing? Listen to what Paul wrote. “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” What a wonderful song of praise those words are.

Here is another thought about the new songs mentioned in Psalm 40. 

When God does something great, we are to sing because singing is one of the best ways of expressing what is happening to us.

Here is the thought. Our new songs, whether sung or spoken or written, are to celebrate the new lives and new opportunities God gives us through Jesus. Let’s pray that our  songs will accomplish what is in Psalm 40. That those who hear or read our songs will also see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. That happened in the Roman world as the early Christian church grew so rapidly. May that happen in our time.

And this question I found. Have you every wondered why God does not take us to Heaven the moment we become a Christian? It would be a lot easier than staying in this world that is so full of envy, hatred, and strife.

If that has crossed your mind, remember we are saved for a purpose. It is God who has brought each of us up out of whatever horrible pits we have been in. It is God who has set our feet upon a rock and established our steps. Our response should be to praise God, singing to Him a new song that expresses our joy. A joy that produces peace that should become visible to all those around us.

When peace and joy in spite of circumstances are evident in our lives, others will see it and be drawn to also trust in the Lord. We may not be happy all the time, but with complete trust in God in all our experiences in life, we will be filled with a deep inner peace. Today, let’s pray that God will grant each of us complete confidence and trust in God that will be evident to all of those around us.

Today’s closing song is the hymn He Lifted Me Out. The song centers on the first part of Psalm 40 about being lifted to solid ground so we can proclaim the LORD’s goodness. We will sing verse 1, chorus, then verses 2 and 4 and the chorus.

I was out on the broadway of sin and despair,

Crushed ‘neath my burden of sorrow and care,

My constant companions were trouble and doubt,

Till Jesus reached down and lifted me out.


He lifted me out of the deep miry clay;

He settled my feet on the straight, narrow way;

He lifted me up to a Heavenly place,

And floodeth my soul each day with His grace.


I was wand’ring far from my Savior and home,

Fainting and weary in sis did I roam;

I needed a hand to turn me about,

Then Jesus reached down and lifted me out.


I have started for Heaven, my heart filled with song.

Wand’ring is over, my sins are all gone;

Through Jesus’ own blood cleansed within and without,

O praise His dear name! He lifted me out.


He lifted me out of the deep miry clay;

He settled my feet on the straight, narrow way;

He lifted me up to a Heavenly place,

And floodeth my soul each day with His grace.

Here are the words of the chorus of New Song. They are the benediction.

God, You put a new song in my mouth,

A hymn of praise to You.

All I wanna do when I wake up

Is spend my day with You.

You put a new song in my mouth,

A hymn of praise to You.

You put my feet on the Rock, Lord,

I put my trust in You.

Sing a new song.

Sing a new song.

Amen.


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