Out of your Impossible Situation
Out of Your Impossible Situation (Psalm 40)
You probably believe that God can bring you out of a difficult situation. Do you truly trust that God can bring you out of an impossible situation? The psalmist didn't. In fact, his own efforts only proved the final futility of the problem. But God intervened, and the psalmist responded to God's intervention with a fresh sense of praise and a new demonstration of obedience.
By asking God alone to act, you can find a way out of your impossibility.
God Delivers from an Impossible Situation
The words present a memorable picture of human helplessness: "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire" (v. 2). The words picture a deep pit where even deeper waters resound from a horrible cavern further below. Such pits were used as dungeons (Jer. 38:6), pitfalls for wild beasts (Ps. 7:15), or could even refer to a grave (28:1). The emphasis rests on the roaring, resounding noise of the place as well as its depth. What was worse, the bottom of the pit was like the muck of filthy mire. The more the psalmist struggled to get out, the deeper he sank into the bog at the bottom.
What kind of experience led the psalmist to express himself this way? It may have been a military defeat, the opposition of wicked people, sickness, or the impossible situation created by personal sin in his life. Perhaps it is best that we do not know. We can then identify with the psalmist in our own impossible situation.
There is an equally impressive statement of divine intervention. Suddenly, God moves into the difficulty and the entire situation changes. From the instability of the bog beneath he suddenly finds sure footing on stable ground. God not only gave him present safety but also future stability. A new life opened up before him immediately after a threat that would have ended life.
How do you find such an experience. The secret is in verse 1: "I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry" (v. 1, author's italics). There is an emphatic repetition in the original language: "I waited, yea, I waited." The resounding of the words indicates a total reliance on God alone to extricate him. This also suggests an exclusive waiting on God: "I simply waited; I did nothing but wait." God may place you in a situation where only a divine act can deliver you from the impossibility. The opposite of waiting on God is to fret, be angry, and to take things into your own hands (Ps. 37:7).
You Can Respond Appropriately to God's Delivery
You can respond first with fresh praise to God: "he put a new song in my mouth" (v. 3). How long has it been since you had something fresh about which to praise God? God had done such a dramatic new thing in his life that none of the old psalms would do. He wrote a new victory hymn celebrating God's recent deliverance in his life. The emphasis rests on the new quality of the song, not just its recent composition. Part of the reason for this new song was the impact of God's intervention on those who observed the psalmist's life: "Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord" (v. 3). God's act will compel the attention of the bystanders to the power of God. Does anything in your life do that?
You can respond with a new obedience. The psalmist struggled with how to express gratitude toward such a delivering God. He weighed all of the outward religious rituals of his day. Animal sacrifices, meal offerings of fine flour, burnt offerings indicating total dedication, and sin offerings propitiating God all presented themselves as possible ways to indicate gratitude toward God. But there must be more.
God does not want ritual, but reality. He desires harmony with Him rather than ceremony performed for Him. So the psalmist expresses that he has heard God: "my ears you have pierced" (v. 6). This unusual phrase meant that God had broken through at a new level of speaking to the inward person. The result of that is an immediate sense of obedience to the will of God: "Then I said, 'Here I am—I have come' " (v. 7). These are the characteristic words of a servant who comes immediately to do the will of the master.
When will we learn that God wants obedience and reality above all else? The only real response to God's intervention in your life is to hear and obey. All else is ritual. When you do so, you will have a fresh song.