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Psalm 40:1-40:17
Key Verse: 4:3

Happy Thanksgiving! We are living in a rapidly changing world. So it is easy for people to be irritable and anxious and even become bitter to God and others. It is hard to give thanks and praise to God. But we know that our God is absolutely good. He does not change, so not his words. Through the study of his words in this Psalm of David, may we newly learn why we should thank God and praise him.

First, he put a new song in my mouth (1-10). Look at verses 1 and 2a. “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire.” Here we can see the Psalmist’s situation. He was in the slimy pit, pit of mud and mire. No one can get out of the slimy pit. The more he tries to get out of it, the more he sinks into the pit. In other translations, it is “the pit of destruction” (NASB, ESV), “the pit of despair” (NLT), “the desolate pit” (NRSV), or “a horrible pit” (KJV). David was in the pit of the danger of losing his life pursued by King Saul for nearly 13 years. David was close to death many times, because out of jealousy Saul attempted to kill him again and again. But God protected him at each time. There were also several opportunities for him to kill Saul as a reasonable react, since the king sought to take his life. Yet, he did not resolve the matter according to his way, for he knew that God would not be pleased with killing the anointed king. He waited patiently for the LORD, crying out to him. Then God lifted him out of this pit of destruction at his time. On another occasion he was in the pit of sin. When he was the king of Israel, he committed the sin of adultery. He tried to solve it in his own way by covering the sin. Then he committed the heavier sin of murdering and fell into the deeper pit of sin. He did not know how to get out of this slimy pit. His soul was groaning day and night. Then when he was rebuked by a prophet, he recognized his sin. Being contrite in heart and broken in spirit, he cried out to God. Indeed God heard his cry and lifted him up from the pit, and his soul could be revived. As for Joseph in the Old Testament, his brothers put him in a cistern out of their hatred toward him. Then they sold him to Egypt, and so he was placed in the slave market. At the age of 17 his destiny was suddenly changed from a prince-like son to a slave in an unknown country. In that situation he did not know God’s purpose for him. However, he trusted in the Lord. Probably he was in that situation for several years. Then he could be recognized as a sincere and responsible young man and bought by Potiphar the captain of the guard of king Pharaoh. He became a good steward in Potiphar’s house. Then at the time of success he was falsely accused of attempting a rape and was put in a prison. It was likely that his situation was worse than before. He could have been so bitter toward the woman who deceptively accused him. But again amazingly he trusted in the Lord believing his absolute goodness. In the prison he lived a shepherd life for other prisoners. Especially he took well of care two Bible students there and seemed to have an opportunity to get out of the prison. Yet, God’s timing was different. He had to wait patiently for two more years. Afterward God miraculously lifted up out of the lowest pit to the highest position of being the Prime Minster of Egypt. As for him, it was about 13 years until God’s clear purpose was unfolded in his life.

As for our Lord Jesus, the cross he had to take was the most horrible and worst pit any human being could be put in. While he was hanging on a cross, people there sneered at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God” (Lk 23:35). Certainly he could save himself destroying all the enemies. But he entrusted all the matters to God. 1 Peter 2:23 says, “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” And according to Hebrews 12:2-3, he endured the cross and opposition from sinful men, scorning its shame for the joy set before him. Then God lifted him up by raising him from the dead.

A man was in the pit of wandering in the pursuit of worldly pleasures and success for nearly 40 years. Then God in his mercy led him to Bible study. God lifted him out of the pit through his living words and has been reviving his soul with a clear identity as a disciple of Jesus and the hope of establishing his family for God’s mission. A woman was in the pit of sophisticated and philosophical ideas of the world and indecisiveness. She did not have a clear life purpose and also did not know the reason and meaning of marriage. Then when she received one word of God after about 10 years of Bible study, she could come out of the pity and came to have a life purpose and direction as the Lord’s servant and clear reason to marry, that is, to be a suitable helper in God’s family to carry out God’s mission together. A young man was in the pit of fatalism with introverted character. He could not speak with confidence and he was shaky and trembling whenever he stood before the public. He was legalistic and did not have a clear life philosophy. He really did not know how to get out of the pit of himself. Then in his mercy God strongly pulled him out of the pit through his word and discipline and placed him on the ground of faith. He has been living by faith in Jesus coming out of himself. Praise God.

In our Christian life also we are often put in the slimy pit, the pit of mud and mire with complicated problems in relationship, or unexpected and unbearable life situations. We become helpless and pitiful. However, our assurance is that when we cry out to God and wait patiently for the Lord, he will lift us out of the various kinds of slimy pit.

Look at verse 2b. “he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” God raised David as the king of Israel. However, the position and wealth and honour as a king was not his rock. The confession, “God is my rock” is written more than 20 times in the book of Psalm. God himself was the rock for him. When David depended on God his rock, he could defeat his enemies, who were stronger than he. Furthermore the rock, God was his shepherd. In that shepherd and sheep relationship his feet was set on a rock. He confessed in Psalm 23, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” And his firm place to stand was not in this world. He confessed in the Psalm, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Our firm place to stand is God’s kingdom that has been restored to us through Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection of Christ Jesus and so cannot be shaken (Heb 12:28). Christ Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of lords. He reigns forever in his unshaken kingdom and his kingdom will cover the whole world. Although we are in this secure and shaky world, we can live in his kingdom, secure and firm, in his rule with the hope of life beyond this visible world and our physical life.

Look at verse 3. “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” Surely it was a song of thanks and joy and victory. Thanks and praise go together. Nothing could make him sing in this world. But God made him sing. In NET translation “He gave me a reason to sing a new song, praising God….” When God lifted him out of the slimy pit, the Psalmist could not help singing out of thanks to him. When God set his feet on a rock, he gave a hymn of praise to God. Of course people can sing in this world for various reasons. However, the songs we sing in God is different. It is a new song, a hymn of praise to God for his wonderful grace. In Revelation 5 the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb and sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood your purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (5:8-10) Then many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand sang in a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!” (5:11-12) Apostle Peter said to the suffering Christians in the early churches, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” And whenever we are renewed in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we can sing a song with a new heart and mind. The word of God can renew our hearts and minds and we can sing a new song, a hymn of praise to God at each time.

Our Lord Jesus and his disciples sang a hymn after the Last Supper. It was the night right before the Passover, when he would be crucified. He had said at the Last Supper, “I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Mt 26:29-30; Mk 14:25-26). We can image to sing new wonderful songs in the kingdom of God.

Look at verse 3b, “Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.” This can be the power of singing, a hymn of praise to God offered because of the marvelous grace of our God. Evil power of Satan goes away and people have the holy fear of God and put their trust in God. They become truly blessed. So verse 4 says “Bless is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods (or falsehood).” In our time we see that Satan uses music so powerfully to turn people away from God. Then how much more God’s people should sing a new song, a hymn of praise to God! Of course it is to be out of thanks and joy with a renewed heart. Our testimony sharing is an excellent way of singing a new song, a hymn of praise to God. May we be more devoted and powerful in our singing and praise to God going deeper into his grace.

In the following verses, 5-10, we can go deeper into the thought of the Psalmist. Look at verse 5. “Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.” God’s created world is full of wonders of God (Ps 104:24). One example a heart throbs about 2.6 billion times if one lives 70 years. That is around 100,000 times of pumping a day without gas supply. There are also wonders in our lives. M. Timothy Park had a successful bone-marrow implementation surgery. It was mainly because his youngest brother’s bone-marrow exactly matched M. Tim’s. In his testimony M. Tim confessed that his parents made every effort to prevent their youngest son’s birth when the baby was conceived. But anyway M. Tim’s youngest brother was born and his bone-marrow was so preciously used for M. Tim’s new life. What a wonder of God! As for Paulina, when she was rejected by the law schools in U of T, York and Ottawa, despite two times of taking LSAT, it was not easy for her to bear such discouragement. Yet, she trusted in God and began her law study at University of Western Ontario. After several weeks of study, she applied for a mentee position for Legal Community Service and she got it. Later she found that only twelve were chosen for the mentees among 178, and it will be an opportunity to learn more through this visiting law firms than in the class. And she is more and more interested in the law study. She thanked God for his encouragement and his way of leading. There are many wonders of God in our lives.

Among many wonders and thoughts and plans of God one thing we must know is how God saves a sinner and makes the person a holy child of God. Look at verses 6-8. “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, ‘Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” As for the Psalmist, it could mean that he wanted to serve God out of his willing and obedient heart and do the will of God in his life because of God’s wonderful grace upon him. So he continued to say in verse 9-10, “I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, as you know, O LORD. I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.” He had such a clear life direction.

However, amazingly what the Psalmist said in verses 6-8 is the very word that Christ said according to Hebrews 10:5-7, “Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, O God.’” And 10:10 says, “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Here we see that God’s will was for Christ Jesus to be a sin offering through the sacrifice of his own body so that a sinner would be made holy. It is truly the wonder of God when we think of how God’s redemptive work has been done in history from Abraham, to David and Christ Jesus for the fulfillment of the gospel and how it came to me. Such a work included many thoughts and plans of God. And now he wants to reach another sinner through my proclamation of his righteousness. He wants to use you and me in his redemptive work and history. Praise God for the wonders of his work! We can sing a new song, a hymn of praise to God for the wonders of his grace.

Second, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me (11-17). Verses 11-17 are the Psalmist’s prayer. Look at verses 11-13. “Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD; may your love and your truth always protect me. 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. Be pleased, O LORD, to save me; O LORD, come quickly to help me.” The Psalmist was living in the real world. We see his sincere struggle before God and his earnest and personal prayer. Look at verses 14-16, “May all who seek to take my life be put to shame and confusion; may all those who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace. May those who say to me, ‘Aha! Aha!’ be appalled at their own shame.” In this clear prayer of the Psalmist we believe that all who reject God and his righteousness and his way of work will be shamed and disgraced. The Psalmist also prays in verses 16, “But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, ‘The LORD be exalted!’” What a beautiful prayer! We also need this prayer.

Look at verse 17. “Yet I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay.” The Psalmist did not say, “I was poor and needy.” He said, “I am poor and needy.” Those who say to the Lord, “I am poor and needy” are truly humble people. They know that they need God desperately. But the proud do not think that they need God. There are two ways of living. One is the life of turning to God; the other, to false gods. When a man does not turn to God, he turns aside to false gods by default. There are many false gods in the world, such as pleasures, wealth and fame, etc. Those who can confess to the Lord, “I am poor and needy” are truly blessed. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Mt 5:3-4).

The Psalmist prayed, “May the Lord think of me.” What an excellent prayer! The Nobel Prize in Physics 2015 was award to Takaaki Kajita (1959 - ), professor of University of Tokyo and Arthur B. McDonald (1943 - ), professor in Queen’s University. The world thinks of them. But if God does not think of them, they are pitiful and nothing. Though my friends and the people of the world do not think of me, yet if God thinks of me, that’s everything. God said in Isaiah 49:15, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” “May the Lord think of me” be our earnest prayer. The Psalmist continued to pray, “You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay.” Although he said in verse 1, “I waited patiently for the Lord”, “O my God, do not delay” is his honest prayer. We can pray like him.

We thank and praise God that he lifts us out of the slimy pit. Thank him for many wonders and thoughts and plans for us, especially through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. May we keep a new song in our mouth for his wonderful grace and keep the prayer, “I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me” in our hearts.

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