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Psalm 40 and 70 - IWaited patiently

INTRODUCTION: Psalm 40 has some verses that relate to the coming Messiah, interspersed among the verses describing personal emotions of the human author. There are also some other scripture passages closely related to verses in this psalm, that demonstrate the unity of scripture given to us by our triune God. The LORD opens up His Word to our hearts and minds, as described in Job, "32:8 But there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding." In first Peter, we have a very direct statement of how the Spirit of Christ was active within Old Testament prophets as they wrote scripture. 1Peter chapter 1, "10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, and have prophesied of the grace that should come unto you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them had signified when He testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow." In 2Peter, we learn that the Holy Spirit was active in the prophets, thus linking the Christ (Messiah) and the Spirit of God in the inspiration of scripture. 2 Peter 1:21 "For the prophecy came not in olden times by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."

NOTE: All scripture passages used in this study are taken from the KJ21 version (King James 21st Century).

A - The opening of the Psalm

"1 To the chief musician: A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined unto me and heard my cry. 2 He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock and established my goings. 3 And He hath put a new song in my mouth; even praise unto our God; many shall see it and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. 4 Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. 5 Many, O LORD my God, are Thy wonderful works which Thou hast done; and Thy thoughts which are directed toward us, they cannot be reckoned up in order unto Thee. If I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered."

COMMENTS: The inscription for this psalm tells us this is a psalm of David, but the content does not reveal the time frame in David's life that gave rise to the psalm. We know from historical scripture passages, that before David became king, he endured incidents of threats and malignings that were not a result of his actions against God or man. Peter tells us that God-honoring patience is defined by such circumstances as David faced. 1 Peter 2:20 "For what glory is it if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if when ye do well and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God." Taking suffering patiently does not exclude crying out to God, for David cried out before the Lord acted in his behalf. David then experienced the dramatic change as pictured by being removed from a horrible pit of mire and set upon rock solid footing. David recognized that the Lord established the way he should go, and this caused his heart to be invigorated with a new song of praise to God. David did not see this turn of events solely for his own benefit. His desire was that many may see as a fearful thing, the awesome power of God that brought about such dramatic change, but that fear of such an awesome God is removed when the Lord becomes the central object of trust. Turning from the prideful lies of man to full trust in the Lord is a blessed thing. David declares that all the glorious works of creation, or the thoughts the Lord has toward man, would be impossible for us to number. Isn't that a great comparison to contemplate: as we see the huge multitude of the natural wonders created by the Lord, we then realize that his concern for us is also beyond adequate description. The next passage in this psalm can perhaps provide insight into not only Messianic prophecy, but how the heart of David was so perfectly embodied in the unique "Son of David" whose kingdom is without end.

B - A Messianic reference in the midst of this Psalm

"6 Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire; mine ears hast Thou opened; burnt offering and sin offering hast Thou not required. 7 Then said I, "Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me: 8 I delight to do Thy will, O my God; yea, Thy law is within my heart." 9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation; lo, I have not restrained my lips, O LORD, Thou knowest. 10 I have not hid Thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared Thy faithfulness and Thy salvation; I have not concealed Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth from the great congregation."

COMMENTS: Samuel knew King Saul quite well, and Samuel's lifelong devotion to the Lord gave him understanding of what truly pleases God. That is why he admonished Saul for first purposely disobeying, then offering sacrifice. 1 Samuel 15:22 "And Samuel said, "Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." Scripture is unchanging as we remember that early in the book of Genesis, Cain wanted to be accepted based upon his own sacrifice, rather than making an offering out of obedience that would demonstrate that he had placed the law of the LORD into his heart. But instead, he killed his brother Abel out of jealousy. Later, Abraham became a prime example of faith for all who will place full trust in the Lord rather than their own sacrifices or works. Genesis 15:6 "And he believed in the LORD; and He accounted it to him for righteousness." Paul speaks in Romans chapter 3 to the fact that the law reveals the nature of our sin, but it is an impossible task that sinful man could fulfill the law to obtain righteousness before a holy God. then he makes reference in chapter 4 to the faith of Abraham being acceptable to God for his righteousness. Romans 3:20 "Therefore by the deeds of the law, no flesh shall be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin." Romans "4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath reason to glory, but not before God. 3 For what saith the Scripture? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness."" The apostle James makes it clear that faith is proved to be alive by the works it produces, thus placing works in the proper perspective. James 2:26 "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." The letter to the Hebrews directs our attention to faith as the prime requisite to bring us to righteousness before a Holy God. Hebrews "4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left to us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them; but the Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it." The disobedience of Israel in the wilderness demonstrated their lack of faith, and anyone who purposely rebels against God's instructions today still demonstrates a lack of true faith.

In Hebrews chapter 10 we find a direct reference to verses in Psalm 40, but the specific wording quoted is from the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament), not from the Hebrew text. Therefore in verse five below "a body hast Thou prepared for Me" is used rather than "mine ears hast Thou opened." Hebrews "10:4 for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5 Therefore when He cometh into the world, He saith, "Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not have, but a body hast Thou prepared for Me. 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, `Lo, I come (in the volume of the Book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God.'" 8 Above when He said, "Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings, and offering for sin Thou wouldest not have, neither hadst pleasure therein" (which are offered in accordance with the law), 9 then said He, "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God," He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second. 10 By this will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." After his resurrection, Jesus verified that, as he had taught during his ministry, many references in the Old Testament scriptures foretold of him. Luke 24:44 "And He said unto them, "These are the words which I spoke unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and in the Psalms concerning Me."" There are a number of Old Testament passages that have direct reference to the Messiah, while others illustrate the pathway of obedience for those who have placed God's law into their heart, and seek to follow after his statutes with a pure devotion. Psalm 22 is rich with Messianic references, and it speaks of the great congregation, as mentioned in Psalm 40. Psalm 22:25 "My praise shall be of Thee in the great congregation; I will pay My vows before them that fear Him." And then Psalm 35 says, "18 I will give Thee thanks in the great congregation; I will praise Thee among many people." King David was very open about his praise to the Lord, and certainly the ministry of Jesus was very public, and often before great assemblies or congregations of the people.

C - The closing of the Psalm

"11 Withhold not Thou Thy tender mercies from me, O LORD; let Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth continually preserve me. 12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about; mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up. They are more than the hairs of mine head; therefore my heart faileth me. 13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me; O LORD, make haste to help me! 14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil. 15 Let them be desolate as a reward for their shame, that say unto me, "Aha, aha!" 16 Let all those that seek Thee rejoice and be glad in Thee; let those that love Thy salvation say continually, "The LORD be magnified!" 17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh of me. Thou art my help and my deliverer; do not tarry, O my God!"

COMMENTS: Verse 10, in the middle paragraph of this psalm, closes that section with "I have not concealed Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth from the great congregation." Then in verse 11 the psalmist asks that the same tender mercy, lovingkindness, and truth not be withheld from him, because it is preserving him. The new song he had in the earlier verses was not a sign of elimination of all succeeding trials of the earthly life. Upon placing trust in the Lord, the believer is not immediately removed from the many evils that encompass all around in a fallen world. The psalmist confesses that he recognizes his own iniquities to be so innumerable that he is unable to look up, and his heart fails within. This is a pattern not foreign to believers down through the ages, when some of the initial joy of salvation is weighed down by the cares and trials of life. There should also be the development of a greater sensitivity within us that brings conviction in our heart each time we succumb to personal sin. When others mock the believer's faith, knowing that the Lord will repay their rebellion, should keep believers from desiring to mete out the vengeance that rightfully belongs to God. the LORD be magnified! Admitting that we are poor and needy makes us far better willing to wait to receive our reward from the Lord's riches in glory, because the Lord does indeed think about us. As James says, "4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up." The LORD is our ultimate help and deliverer! Knowing all this does not prevent us from asking that the Lord not tarry, or it can be put another way as in the close of all scripture at the end of Revelation, "22:20 He that testifieth these things saith, "Surely I come quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."

D - Psalm 70 as a reprise

Psalm 70 "1 To the chief musician: A Psalm of David. To bring to remembrance. Make haste, O God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O LORD! 2 Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul; let them be turned backward and put to confusion that desire my hurt. 3 Let them be turned back as a reward for their shame that say, "Aha, aha!" 4 Let all those that seek Thee rejoice and be glad in Thee; and let such as love Thy salvation say continually, "Let God be magnified!" 5 But I am poor and needy; make haste unto me, O God. Thou art my help and my deliverer; O LORD, make no tarrying."

COMMENTS: The last five verses of Psalm 40 (13 through 17) very closely resemble the wording in book 2 of the Psalms, as Psalm 70, with the inscription crediting David as the author, and a note indicating "to bring to remembrance." Near the end of David's life, two sons, first Absalom and then Adonijah, along with others who defected from the king, tried to wrest the monarchy from David. These verses become in Psalm 70, a set aside portion of scripture that may have special meaning for trials in the latter years of the life of any believer.

--- Reflections in prayer ---

My Lord and Savior, I can say with the psalmist that as I began to see the work of your salvation in my life, there was a new song of praise in my soul that I had never before experienced. Through the years I have shared with others, both through speaking and through writing, the work you have done for me. As I continue to study your written Word, I am increasingly convinced of the majesty of your Creation and your boundless love for your children. I thank you Lord for the plan you had for my life even before my conception; and the intricacies of your plan from the beginning of Creation, for the Savior of all men to share in our human frailty before becoming the once-for-all sacrifice for sin. What the law could not do, you have done for us, that we might be justified by a faith that lives. Through your Spirit Lord, keep alive in my heart and mind the fact that I am poor and needy, subject to fail again in the flesh, but you are my help and my deliverer! Let such as love your salvation say continually, "Let God be magnified!" Amen and amen.

Published 28 September 2009