Read 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.
We know with our heads that God is able to redeem the messy things in us, but we also know the battle in our hearts to really live out that belief. We want to fix ourselves, to heal our own brokenness, to get ourselves out of the messes we find ourselves in. Wouldn’t it be so much faster that way? And wouldn’t that give us the satisfaction of knowing we are strong, independent, and capable all on our own?
Psalm 40 shows a much different approach. All throughout this chapter, David remembers his weakness and inability to save himself. While David is feeling overtaken by his sinfulness (v. 12), his response is to wait patiently for the Lord to save him. If you look at the actions of David compared to the actions of God described in this chapter, you will notice an important difference. God has lifted David from the pit, set his feet on firm ground, and protected and delivered him. David acknowledges his need, sees the work of God, then speaks of God’s faithfulness. God does the work and David responds with praise.
The healing of our hearts and our own sinfulness happens when we remember that we cannot do anything by our own power. We cannot heal or fix ourselves. We cannot earn our own forgiveness or salvation. On our own, we are powerless to overcome sin and brokenness. Those who long for God and for His saving help are the ones who will see His greatness (v. 16) because those are the people that are best positioned to see God move.
David knows this because he knows God’s heart – that we would acknowledge our complete dependence on God and that He would be glorified through our praise and faithfulness. He does not want our sacrifices. He wants our hearts and our praise. Isn’t that exactly what is at the heart of the gospel? While we were stuck in the mud and mire, God became flesh, took on our sin, died, and rose again to save and redeem us. When we acknowledge that we cannot do anything apart from God, only God can receive the glory. Then His name will be made great and His people will respond in praise. What a good God that His glory is also our greatest good.
- Where are you depending on your own strength or ability to bring healing, instead of moving toward God in prayer and relying on God’s power?
- Where can you offer praise to God today? What in your life, large or small, can you show gratitude for today?
- Who can you share with about God’s work in your life today?
By the Way
Psalm 40:6-8 is quoted in Hebrews 10:5-7 to remind us that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross has covered us once and for all. Jesus’ payment for our sins allows us to look to Christ instead of to ourselves for full forgiveness from our sins. We cannot earn what has been freely given to us, but we can respond by living faithfully and giving our praise to God.
3 thoughts on “Psalm 40”
Such a beautiful Psalm, filled with many good reminders for us to take throughout our days. Verses 9-10 highlighted that we are to proclaim His righteousness, His faithfulness, His salvation, His lovingkindess, and His truth. When I focus on who He is and all that He has done, I do not have to worry about what to say or share with others. Verse 5 summarizes it beautifully: “Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done, and Your thoughts towards us; there is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count.” He provides it all and in abundance! And, He allows me the chance to participate. I pray we will find ways to share wherever we find ourselves. All by Him, through Him, and to Him.
What captures my attention is v12 as David admits his sin. King David who was powerful valued his relationship with God and knew his sin was a barrier to enjoying the presence of God. Confession seems to be a lost art, as we’ll do anything but confess our sins; instead we rationalize and categorize away our sin never coming clean with the status of our hearts. 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We’ve been duped into thinking that confession equals weakness. I see it as a great strength to be able to humbly bring our brokenness to his feet and let him heal our fractured, messy lives. Looking out over the landscape of this wintry arctic blast, my heart knows, “Oh, precious is the flow, that makes us white as snow, no other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
I read somewhere that the self-help industry generates around $10 billion per year. This psalm is a great reminder that, try as we might, there is only One who can help rescue us from the pit.