Psalms 1 - 50by Mike Raiter
If we are honest, some of the troubles we face are of our own making. As David sings: ″For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me″ (Psalm 40:12). Sometimes other people caused David sorrow, and sometimes he suffered because of his own sinfulness. In Psalm 40, David rejoices that the Lord has ″lifted me . . . out of the mud and mire″ (v. 2).
Psalm 40 is a wonderful song of rejoicing in salvation. David sings because the Lord has rescued him from his enemies. But our enemies are both outside of us and within.
David rejoices that he has been delivered from all ″who want to take my life″ (vv. 14-15), but his greater cause for thanksgiving is God delivering him from an even bigger enemy: the sin in his own heart (vv. 12-13).
Since God has rescued David, he can now sing again, and he delights to tell others of the wonderful works of God (vv. 4-5, 9-10). Once we have experienced the amazing grace of God in salvation, it is hard to keep it to ourselves. David cannot conceal God's love and faithfulness from the assembly of God's people (v. 10).
At the heart of this psalm is one of the great spiritual truths of the Bible. God gave His people the sacrificial system. According to the writer of the book of Hebrews, one purpose of these sacrifices was to serve as ″an annual reminder of sins″ (Hebrews 10:3). The forgiveness a godly Jew experienced from these sacrifices was real, but at the same time he recognised the system's inadequacy. The writer understood that ″it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins″ (vv. 4, 11), and found support for his argument in Psalm 40:6-8 (see Hebrews 10:5-10). This did not mean that Jews were free from the obligation to fulfil all the laws of sacrifice; rather, godly Jews knew that, more than sacrifice, God demanded obedience.
It is interesting that the writer of Hebrews puts David's words in Psalm 40:6-8 into the mouth of Jesus (Hebrews 10:5-10). When Jesus entered the world, He announced that He had come to do God's will, which was ultimately to bring the complete cleansing from sin that could only be accomplished by His being the one, true sacrifice for sin.
Have you experienced this wonderful deliverance? David prays: ″May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you″ (v. 16). You can be sure that if you long for His saving help, you will find that ″the Lord is great!″ (v. 16).
Psalm 40 begins with an encouragement to wait patiently for the Lord (v. 1). What does this mean practically? How did David express his patience for God to deliver him?
God's law required His people to offer sacrifices (e.g. Leviticus 1-7). So how can David say: ″Sacrifice and offering you did not desire″ (Psalm 40:6)? What principles can we find here for how we live the Christian life?