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Psalm 40

Started by Al Moak, April 26, 2003, 10:17:28 am

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Al Moak

April 26, 2003, 10:17:28 am Last Edit: December 19, 2009, 02:32:00 pm by Al Moak
Psalm 40

Although this is a psalm of David, it's also a messianic psalm, meaning that it looks forward to the great Descendant of King David, our Lord Jesus Christ.  David sang it, and the congregation repeated it in their morning worship,  But as appropriate as these words were for Israel, though, they're  equally appropriate for our Lord and for His Church.  In fact it's quoted in Hebrews 10:5-7, and there attributed to our Lord.

The scenario  is that Israel was in peril each and every time it had to fight battles against deadly enemies.  And, since David's leadership and fighting ability often stood between the nation and defeat, David would have to be considered the nation's savior, the commander who would be counted on to deliver them from defeat. 

The psalm before us was probably sung in memory of victory in a particular battle.  But since all battles are perilous, it appropriately became a song to be sung in anticipation of any battles David and Israel might fight. So it's a song of thanksgiving to the God Who alone could give them victories.

The first absolute necessity was an honest confession to God that battles of any kind could never be won merely by means of superior weapons or greater strength, but, ultimately, they could be won only by the intervention of God.  David sings, "I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined to me, and heard my cry!" He's just confessing that rushing right in, depending on his own strength and upon the fierceness of his charge - wasn't ever going to result in victory, but that waiting patiently for the Lord to act on Israel's behalf was the sure and only key to success.

Of course in all such military engagements, it was always necessary to face the possibility of David's death and the defeat of God's people.  David knew that possibility very well, and he saw it as it really was.  He calls it "an horrible pit," a pit filled with "miry clay," a pit out of which the Lord must save him or he and his people would indeed be forever lost. 

So the words David uses in this psalm are descriptive of death, and In the Hebrew mind physical death was often likened to a "pit" (sheol) filled with miry clay, a pit from which there could be no escape.  In any given battle, only God could save them from that awful end.  It always needed to be remembered that God alone was to be praised in victory, and that His alone would be the glory in victory.

Of course the most prominent positive for David and the people was the fzct of a God Who NEVER forgot tlhem, was ALWAYS thinking about them, and was ALWAYS caring for them - Whose thoughts toward them were so many they couldn't ever be numbered.

Along with knowing that great armor and weaponry couldn't save them, David also knew that "religious goodness" wouldn't save Israel either.  In other words, their "sacrifices and offerings" wouldn't be any more effective than more horses and better swords.  Instead, as David himself very well knew, God had another plan.  He would use David himself to bring the victory.  So David sings, "Sacrifices and offering (religious rituals) You did not desire; my ears You have opened (to hear God's call to lead the people).  Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.  Then I said, 'Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me.  I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart (not just in outward religious observance).'"

So Israel needed to to trust in God alone, and the means God would use for Israel's salvation would be the heroic acts of David their king!  But even though he was to be such a savior, yet David himself had to depend entirely upon a much greater Savior.  So he promised the Lord that he would tell "the great assembly" (all Israel) about that dependence, and he prays a simple prayer of that dependency when he says, "Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord!" 

He candidly confesses to the Lord that it isn't his own greatness that makes him a fit leader.  Indeed he has to say, "My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head; therefore my heart fails me."

So it's abundantly clear that all help will have to be from a merciful and gracious Lord.  David therefore sings, "Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me; O Lord, make haste to help me!" And in the same vein he prays "Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; let such as love Your salvation say continually, 'The Lord be magnified!'"  Having confessed that it all depends on God, He closes with another simple prayer.  He says, "You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!"

Our Lord Jesus Christ, like David, was given the task of being His people's Savior - their Deliverer in the greatest battle, the battle over sin and death.  We, like David, need to see that it's ultimately our Lord's battle, not ours.  Like Israel, we too need to be aware that religious ritual can't save us any more now than it did them.  Only Jesus Christ, the Warrior-King of kings, can ultimately save us.

And we're in that battle right now.  From the time we get up each morning until we lie down again at night we're in it - and it's a very serious battle against all the forces of darkness!  Oh tell Him, then, that He is your David, your Savior!  Tell Him at the very beginning of the day that He's all the help you have - or need.

Then, having spoken with your Lord, fight hard, knowing that He has accepted the challenge and that He voluntarily came to be your Savior and Lord - to lead you and show you the way in every battle against the world, the flesh and the Devil.  After all, It is to Him alone that we can appeal, so we tell our Father that we desire Him to uphold us, "...through Jesus Christ our Lord."


Al - once again I have been blessed through your exposition. Have you thought about writing a book containing these devotions?

Al Moak

I actually have thought about that Iain.  When I get them all edited up through Ps. 150, then I'll possibly think about it again.  Thanks so much for your comments.  It's encouraging.

Judy McKenna

I just love the Psalms, Al.... Proverbs too.  Have you thought about putting your thoughts into Proverbs?  So many lessons to learn here....so little time, before our Lord returns to Rapture us, to live with Him forever.

Don't you all get so excited just thinking about it?  I sure do! :D
"I am too blessed to be stressed".