Psalm 40 exposition
Several hundred years ago an artist was creating a painting on the roof of a huge cathedral. He was perched on a little platform atop a scaffold.He was painting away whenthe brush slowly dropped as he got caught up in the beauty of the picture. He took a step back to get a better look, another step and another. One more step and he would fall to his death on the stone floor. Just then his assistant who had gone down to get some water popped hid head over the edge of the platform. Sizing up what was about to happen he quickly threw the water over the painting. The painter jumped forward and shouted “Look what you have done, you have ruined my picture”. The assistant quietly replied 'I might have ruined your picture but I’ve saved your life.’
The picture of our life changes when we become a follower of God. For us to come to a saving knowledge and relationship our focus has to change to God things from earthly things. Putting of the old and putting on the new as the apostle Paul describes it is a lifelong change process,usually a slow one with many ups and downs. Through the work of God’s grace the picture of our lives changes. We learn not to conform to the pattern of the world be to the transformed by a renewing our mind. (Rom 12)
It’s a slow process but thank God He is so loving, so patient and so gentle in dealing with us and he is faithful. He is faithful, he can be trusted.
Paul writing to the Phillpians (1:6) states his confidence that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Be sure, that for His part what God has started he will bring to completion
There are times when the picture of our lives is not what we would choose it to be. Ill or failing health, ill fortune, troubled relationships, events which are beyond our control. These may be minor or have catastrophic life changing consequence which challenges our faith in God but God is faithful . Due to His nature, He cannot be anything but faithful.
The psalmist David had been going through a hard time when he wrote psalm 40. Here he doesn’t say anything about sickness of the body or of the insults of his enemies, as he did in other psalms. It points to him going through some inward disquiet, anxiety or a troubled mind and spirit. Look how he describes it. V2 he talks about being in a dangerous pit, deadly quicksand ,in KJV the miry clay, NIV out of the slimy pit,the mud and the mire.
He was down and bogged …with the feel that the more he tried to get out the more bogged he became. He says I waited patiently….so it had gone on for some considerable time…months or perhaps years of despair; the feeling of God being far off, of having deep fears about the future. Most, if not all, of God’s people at some time experience the horrible miry pit of having doubts about God and eternal things.
Sometimes we get sucked in that tantalizing but usually unanswerable question Why is is happening? Why me? It is so easy to get bogged in that one. More useful are questions like Where is God in this,What is God saying. Often it is a matter of holding on turning to and drawing on the promises of God. Matt11:28Come unto me you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Is 40:31Those who hopein the Lord will renew their strength, they soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not be weary,walk and not faint.
There is rest in God.
Note what he says’I waited patiently for the Lord. .. David waited, so relief did not come quickly. He knew that ultimate lasting relief must come from God But he expected it to come, not doubting that it would come in due time.
We all know about waiting .Probably more about waiting than being patient. A wonderful part of God’s faithfullness is his bounless patience with us.paticularly in the light of our impatience.
What happened? V1-2 ‘He listened to me and heard my cry. He pulled me out of a dangerous pit” He was pulled out. It was God who did for David what he could not do for himself. David was rescued from the pit of despondency and despair.God answered his prayers and not only so V2 He set me safely on a rock. and made me secure. From being bogged in the muddy mire to standing tall on a rock. . What a wonderful transformation. What joy. Praise the name of Jesus , He’s my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.
We know is that for many of the trials of life there is very seldom a simple , straight forward or easy answer. It is more a matter of having to learn to live with the situation. (friends) A potent piece of advise much used in counselling is that “you cannot change what has happened but you can change how you think about it”. We can change how we respond to any issue. God is not only good at helping us do that, but goes one better. Instead of just changing our thinking, He renews our thinking renews our mind. And through the Holy Spirit He gives more. Paul had his thorn in the flesh, prayed three times for it to be removed and he was told my grace is sufficient. My strength is made perfect in your weakness. Grace…….
God is so faithful
It was grace that brought Jesus to this world, that held Him through the agony of Gesthemane and Calvary. His grace is able to help the weakest, the most helpless and overwhelmed of those who trust in Him.
We don’t have enough detail to know, but I can’t help wondering whether the transformation was in the actual situation or in David’s attitude to it.
V3 He taught me to sing a new song, a voice of praise to our God. Isn’t it easy to get bogged down in the things of the world, the cares, woes and sheer grind of everyday life. Then our horizon shrinks. But then the Holy Spirit touches us to draw us back to God. It might be through something beautiful a flower a mountain,a smile, perhaps a song, a kindness from someone, reading the bible , and the dark clouds dissipate and the way forward becomes much less daunting and it is so so good to have God with us . we realise that God has been there all the time, our eyes are opened to the innumerable blessings he gives, we can look back and see His faithfulness to us in the past.
V5You have made many wonderful plans for us - I could never speak of them all- their number is too great!
Tht is what happens when we are transformed by a renewing of the mind. What a difference, what delight, what peace and purpose comes when He helps us we see things from His perspective and not our limited human one. When we count our blessings we see God’s faithfulness and experience the liberating power of praise.
The psalm now changes theme from amazement at the wonderful works that God had done for His people to foretelling the greatest work, the greatest wonder, the one that surpasses all the rest, the act that is the foundation of our hope..the sacrificial gift of the Lord Jesus so that we may be reconciled to God.
Vs 6-8 of the psalm is quoted in the book of Hebrews 10. . In Hebrews the apostle Paul shows the absolute supremacy and sufficiency of the crucified and risen Jesus. All things have been put under his feet and at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
These verses can be seen as the thoughts of the Lord Jesus. Vs 6 “you do not want sacrifices and offerings” points to the limitations of sacrifices made in old testament days. These offerings only applied to the Israelites so they were no good for us. The life of a sheep much inferior to the life of a person could hardly do justice in honouring god’s righteousness and paying the price for our sin. Even more important the sacrifice of an animal could not repair the damage of sin by pacifying the conscience or deal with the power of sin and grip and change one’s nature to become an make one an overcomer. Following Christ is about inward change and outward obedience and service. Justice,Peace, Compassion.
Jesus is the lamb of God is our example. Faced with the cross he says vs7 onwards Here I am How I love to do your will, I keep your teaching in my heart. I’ll never stop telling of the good news that you save, about your loyalty and constant love.
From experience David says resoundingly. Vs11 I know you will never stop being merciful to me. God is faithful… loyalty
God is not only faithful to forgive and give a new start but to give what is needed to go on.
Paul 1 in Cor1:4 thanks God for the grace given through the Lord Jesus Christ.for what it means and that through the gift and experience of God’s grace . VS 5 You have become rich in all things as the message of christ has become firmly established Vs 8 He will keep you firm to the end. Vs 9.
Jesus said I have come That you might have life and life to the full (John 10:10)
God is faithful, that is his nature. He cannot be anything else. He can lift from the miry clay. He gives grace and blessings to cope. He wants to bless his people so they will be a blessing to the hurting He will see you through to the end.
And what wonder awaits beyond this world in heaven.