David penned this psalm when he had been delivered from some great trouble by the grace and power of God. The same Spirit that composed his praises for that deliverance was at the same time, a Spirit of prophecy, testifying of the sufferings of Christ. This Psalm teaches us that if we embrace the prophecy of Christ with faith we join in sincerity with the praises and prayers offered up here. He is my Help and My Deliverer.
Psalm 40 – A Psalm of David
I waited patiently for the Lord and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with You! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told. In sacrifice and offering You have not delighted, but You have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. Then I said, “Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart.”
I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as You know, O Lord. I have not hidden Your deliverance within my heart. But I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness from the great congregation. As for You, O Lord, You will not restrain Your mercy from me; Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness will ever preserve me! For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me.
Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me! O Lord, make haste to help me! Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether who seek to snatch away my life. Those who delight in my hurt, let those be turned back and brought to dishonour! Let those be appalled because of their shame who say to me, “Aha, Aha!” But may all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; may those who love Your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!” As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!
Henry says – David had been thrown into great distress. He had been plunged into a horrible pit and into miry clay (Ps. 40:2), out of which he could not remove himself. He was in some perplexity of spirit with a sense of God’s withdrawals. Doubts and fears about our eternal state, are indeed a horrible pit and miry clay, and have been to so many a dear child of God.
He waited upon God and held believing expectations from Him in those depths: I waited patiently for the Lord, Ps. 40:1. Waiting, I waited. He expected relief from no one other than God. The same hand that tears must heal, (Hos. 6:1), or it will never be done. From God he expected relief, and did not doubt that would come in due time. There is enough power in God to help the weakest, and grace enough in God to help the unworthiest when His people trust in Him.
He did not doubt
He waited patiently, which intimates that the relief did not come quickly. Yet he did not doubt that it would come. He continued believing, hoping and praying till it did come. Those whose expectation is from God may wait with assurance, but must wait with patience. This is very applicable to Christ. His agony, both in the garden and on the cross was a horrible pit and miry clay. Then was His soul troubled and exceedingly sorrowful. But He prayed, Father, glorify Your name, Father, save me.
Then He kept hold of His relation to His Father, “My God, my God,” and waited patiently for Him. He records God’s goodness to him in his distress, which he records for God’s honour and his own and others’ encouragement. God answered his prayers: He inclined to me and heard my cry. Those who wait patiently for God, though they may wait awhile, do not wait in vain. Our Lord Jesus was heard in that He feared, Heb. 5:7. He was sure that the Father heard Him always.
God silenced David’s fears, and stilled the angst of his spirit, and gave him a settled peace (Ps. 40:2): “He brought me up out of that horrible pit of despondency and despair, scattered the clouds, and shone brightly upon my soul. He gave me the assurances of His favour and set my feet upon a rock and established my goings.” Those who have been under a sense of religious melancholy, and by the grace of God have been relieved, may be able to say – they are brought up out of a horrible pit.
Christ is the Rock
They find firm footing by the setting of their feet upon a rock. They are now as much elevated with the hopes of heaven as they were before cast down with the fears of hell. Christ is the Rock on which a poor soul may stand fast. His meditation between us and God allows us to build any solid hopes or satisfaction. Where God has given a steadfast hope, He expects there should be a steady, regular conversation. If this be the fruit of it we can acknowledge the riches and power of His grace.
He filled him with joy and peace in believing: “He has put a new song in my mouth. He has given me cause and heart to rejoice.” He was brought into a new world, and that filled his mouth with a new song, even praise to our God. For to His praise and glory must all our songs be sung. Fresh mercies call for new songs. This is applicable to our Lord Jesus in His reception to paradise, His resurrection from the grave, and His exaltation to the joy and glory set before Him. He was brought out of the horrible pit, set upon a rock, and had a new song put into His mouth.
David’s experience would be an encouragement to many to hope in God. Many shall see, and fear, and trust in the Lord. They shall fear the Lord and His justice, which brought David, and the Son of David, into that horrible pit, and shall say, If this be done to the green tree, what shall be done to the dry?
Fear Him and trust Him
There is a holy reverent fear of God, which is not only consistent with, but the foundation of, our hope in Him. They shall not fear Him and shun Him. But they shall fear Him and trust in Him in their direst straits, not doubting. There they shall find Him as able and ready to help as David did in his distress. God’s dealings with our Lord Jesus are our great encouragement to trust in Him.
When it pleased the Lord to bruise Him, and put Him to grief for our sins, He demanded our debt from Him. When He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand, He made it to appear that He had accepted the payment He made and was satisfied with it. What greater encouragement can we have to fear and worship God and to trust in Him? See Rom. 4:25; 5:1, 2.
The psalmist invites others to put their hope in God, as he did, by pronouncing those happy who do so (Ps. 40:4): “Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, and Him only (who have great and good thoughts of Him, and is entirely devoted to Him). He does not respect the proud. He does not do as those who trust in themselves. For those who turn aside from God, turn to lies. This is applicable to our faith in Christ. Blessed are those who trust in Him, and in His righteousness alone.
He works for us
The joyful sense he had of this mercy led him to observe, with thankfulness, the many other favours he had received from God, Ps. 40:5. When God puts new songs into our mouth, we must not forget our former songs, but repeat them: “Many, O Lord my God! are Your wonderful works which You have done, both for me and others.” Many are the benefits with which we are daily loaded both by the Providence and by the grace of God.
He works for us and He works in us, and favours us with matter, not only for thanks, but for praise. The design of His wonderful works are admirable. Eternity itself will be too short to be spent in the admiration of them. All His wonderful works are the product of His thoughts toward us. He does all according to the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11), the purposes of His grace which He purposed in Himself, Eph. 3:11. They are the projects of infinite wisdom, the designs of everlasting love (1 Cor. 2:7; Jer. 31:3), thoughts of good and not of evil, Jer. 29:11.
His gifts and callings are without repentance, because they are not sudden decisions, but the result of His many thoughts toward us. They are innumerable. There is an order in all God’s works. Yet there are so many who present themselves to our view at once that we do not know where to begin nor how the links of the golden chain are joined. They are a mystery to us, and we shall not be able to account for them till the veil be torn and the mystery of God finished.
They could not take away the guilt
David was struck with amazement at the wonderful works that God had done for His people. He foretells the redemption by our Lord Jesus Christ, that work of wonder which excels all the rest. It is the foundation and fountain of all. In this God’s thoughts toward us are the most lavish, the most gracious and therefore to be most admired. This paragraph is quoted by the apostle (Heb. 10:5-7) and applied to Christ and His undertaking for us.
There was an utter insufficiency of the legal sacrifices to atone for sin to enable our peace with God and our happiness in Him. Sacrifice and offering You did not desire. From the days of the Messiah burnt-offering and sin-offering were no longer required. All those ceremonial institutions have been abolished. Yet even when the law concerning them was in full force, God did not desire them, nor accept them, for their own sake. They could not take away the guilt of sin by satisfying God’s justice.
The life of a sheep, which is so much inferior in value to that of a man (Matt. 12:12), could not pretend to be an equivalent to repair the injury done to God’s honour by the sin of man. They could not take away the terror of sin by pacifying the conscience, nor the power of sin by sanctifying the nature. It was impossible, Heb. 9:9; 10:1-4.
He is able to save
What there was in them that offered any value resulted from their reference to Jesus Christ, of which they were types and shadows. Shadows of the good things to come in the obedience of God’s people to the law and their faith in the gospel. But the substance had to come, which is Christ, who brought that glory to God and grace to man.
God the Father subjected Him to the undertaking (Isa. 50:5, 6) and then obliged Him to go through with it. Our Lord Jesus was so in love with His undertaking that He would not free Himself from it. He engaged Himself to persevere in it and for this reason He is able to save us to the uttermost. He engaged Himself to serve His Father, who upholds Him in it, Isa. 42:1.
“Then I said, I come. When sacrifice and offering would not do, Jesus said, ‘I come’, to advance the interests of God’s glory and Kingdom.” Christ freely offered Himself to this service, to which He was under no obligation at all. Had He not been perfectly voluntary in it, He could not have been a sure sacrifice. For it is by this that we are sanctified, Heb. 10:10.
Christ firmly obliged Himself to it: “I come. I promise to come in the fullness of time.” Though the price was not paid, it was secured, so that He was the Lamb that had been slain from the foundation of the world. The Old Testament saints knew Him by the title of ho erchomenos—He who should come. This Word was the foundation on which they built their faith and hope, and which they looked and longed for the accomplishment of.
Your law is within my heart
He came because in the volume of the book it was written of Him. In the Divine decree it was written that His ear was opened, and he said, Lo, I come. There the covenant of redemption was recorded, the counsel of peace between the Father and the Son. Moses and all the prophets testified of Him. In all the volumes of that book something or other was written of Him, which He had an eye to, that all might be accomplished, John 19:28.
Christ took deep pleasure in His undertaking. Having freely offered Himself to it, He did not fail, nor was He discouraged. (Ps. 40:8, 9): I delight to do Your will, O my God! It was to Christ His meat and drink to go on with the work appointed to Him (John 3:34). For, Your law is within my heart – it is written there, it rules there. It is meant of the law concerning the work and office of the Mediator, what He was to do and suffer. This law was dear to Him and had an influence upon Him in His whole undertaking. When the law of God is written in our hearts our duty will be our delight.
As a Priest He wrought redemption to us. As a prophet, by His own preaching first, then by His Apostles, the gospel was published to the children of men – in the great congregation, Ps. 40:9, 10. Still by His Word and Spirit, He makes it known to us. The great salvation began to be spoken by the Lord, Heb. 2:3. It is the gospel of Christ that is preached to all nations.
In the face of Christ
It is His righteousness that is preached (Ps. 40:9), God’s righteousness (Ps. 40:10) and the everlasting righteousness which Christ brought (Dan. 9:24). Compare this with Rom. 1:16, 17. It is God’s faithfulness to His promise, and the salvation which had long been looked for. It is God’s loving-kindness and His truth, His mercy according to His Word. In the work of our redemption we ought to take notice how brightly all the Divine attributions shine on us, and give God the praise for each of them.
It is preached—to the great congregation, Ps. 40:9 and again Ps. 40:10. When Christ was here on earth He preached to thousands at a time. The gospel was preached both to Jews and Gentiles. Solemn religious assemblies are a Divine institution, and in them the glory of God, in the face of Christ, ought to be praised to the glory of God and for the edification of men.
It is preached freely and openly: I have not refrained my lips. I have not hid the message nor concealed it. This intimates that whoever undertook to preach the gospel of Christ would be in great temptation to hide and conceal it. It must be preached with great contention and in the face of great opposition. But Christ Himself, and those whom He called to that work, set their faces as a flint (Isa. 50:7) and were wonderfully carried on in it.
It is good for us that they were so, for by this our eyes have come to see this joyful light and our ears to hear this joyful sound. Otherwise we might have perished in ignorance of it. Christ having done His Father’s will, finished His work and gave orders for the preaching of the gospel to every creature encouraging us to come boldly to the throne for mercy and grace.
Who can understand his errors?
This may encourage us to pray for the mercy of God, and to put ourselves under the protection of that mercy, Ps. 40:11. “Lord, You have not spared Your Son, nor withheld Him. Do not withhold Your tender mercies which You have laid up for us. For You will with Him also freely give us all things Rom. 8:32. Let Your lovingkindness and truth continually preserve me.” The best saints are in continual danger, and see themselves undone if they are not continually preserved by the grace of God. The everlasting lovingkindness and truth of God are what we have to depend upon for our preservation to the heavenly Kingdom, Ps. 61:7.
This may encourage us in reference to the guilt of sin. Jesus Christ has done what sacrifice and offering could not do. David had a frightful sight of sin, Ps. 40:12. This was what made him favour the welcome of a Redeemer. He saw his iniquities to be the worst of evils. He saw that they encompassed Him. In all the reflections of each step of his life, he discovered something amiss. The threatening consequences of his sin surrounded him.
Whichever way he looked he saw some or other trouble waiting for him. He was conscious his sins deserved it and saw them taking hold of him and arresting him, as the bailiff does the poor debtor. He saw them to be innumerable and more than the hairs of his head. Convinced, awakened, consciences are apprehensive of danger from their numerous sins. Though they may seem small as hairs, but being numerous, are very dangerous. Who can understand his errors?
Hope for Victory
God numbers our hairs (Matt. 10:30), which we cannot number. So He keeps an account of our sins, which we keep no account of. The sight of sin so oppressed him that he could not hold up his head—I am not able to look up. He could much less keep up his heart—therefore my heart fails me. The sight of our sins in their own colours would drive us to distraction, if we had not at the same time some sight of a Saviour.
David saw himself brought to the very brink of ruin, eternal ruin by his sins. He cries out with a holy passion, “Be pleased, O Lord! to deliver me (Ps. 40:13). O save me from the wrath to come, and the present terrors I am in through the apprehensions of that wrath! I am undone, I die, I perish, without speedy relief. In a case of this nature, where the bliss of an immortal soul is concerned, delays are dangerous, therefore, O Lord! make haste to help me.”
This may encourage us to hope for victory over our spiritual enemies that seek after our souls (Ps. 40:14). The roaring lion goes about continually seeking to devour. If Christ has triumphed over them, we through Him, shall be more than conquerors. In the belief of this we may pray, with humble boldness, Let them be ashamed and confounded together, and driven backward, Ps. 40:14. Let them be desolate, Ps. 40:15. Both the conversion of a sinner and the glorification of a saint are great disappointments to Satan, who does his utmost, with all his power and subtlety, to hinder both.
Good people seek God
We may in faith, through our Lord Jesus who has brought about our salvation pray that, in both these ways, that great adversary may be confounded. When a child of God is brought into that horrible pit, and the miry clay, Satan cries Aha! aha! thinking he has gained his point. But he shall rage when he sees the brand plucked out of the fire, and shall be desolate, for a reward of his shame. The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The accuser of the brethren is cast out.
This may encourage all who seek God, and love His salvation, to rejoice in Him and to praise Him, Ps. 40:16. Good people seek God, desire His favour, and in all their distress apply to Him. They love His salvation, that great salvation of which the prophets enquired and searched diligently for. This the Redeemer undertook when He said, Lo, I come. All who shall be saved love the salvation not only as a salvation from hell, but a salvation from sin.
Those who seek God shall rejoice and be glad in Him, and with good reason, for He will not only be found of them, but will be their bountiful Rewarder. Those who love His salvation shall be filled with the joy of His salvation, and shall say continually, The Lord be magnified. Thus they shall have a heaven upon earth.
Trust in God alone
This may encourage the saints, in distress and affliction, to trust in God and comfort themselves in Him, Ps. 40:17. David, himself was one of these: I am poor and needy (a king, perhaps now on the throne, and yet, being troubled in spirit, he calls himself poor and needy, in want and distress, lost and undone without a Saviour). Yet the Lord thinks upon me in and through the Mediator, by whom we are made acceptable.
Men may forget the poor and needy, and seldom think of them. But God’s thoughts, towards them (which He has spoken of Ps. 40:5) are their support and comfort. They may assure themselves that God is their help under their troubles, and will be in due time, their deliverer out of their troubles. For the vision is for an appointed time, and therefore, though it tarry, we may wait for it, for it shall come. It will come, it will not tarry.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Here I am It isn’t sacrifices and offerings That You really desire Burnt offerings and sin offerings You do not require. Then I said, “Here I am, I have come It is written about me in the scroll. I delight to do Your will, it is in my heart My God, I bow to Your control. In the assembly of all Your people, Lord I told the good news that You save You know that I will not stop telling it Until I succumb to the grave. I have not kept this good news to myself I have spoken of Your faithfulness and salvation And proclaimed Your loving kindness and truth To all the congregation. Those tender mercies You have shown to me I pray You will never withhold May I always be protected by Your love May it never in me grow cold. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer for the Day
Father, I come to You. I wait upon You and trust in You to deliver me from every miry pit. For I known there is enough power in You to help the weakest, and grace enough to help the unworthiest. May I always believe, hope and pray till You come through for me. Thank You that I may wait with assurance even when I have to wait with patience. Christ is the rock on which I may stand fast. His meditation between me and You allow me to build solid hopes and satisfaction. You have given me steadfast hope, and so I hope for steady, regular conversation between us. You have given me cause and heart to rejoice.
May I fear You and trust in You in my direst straits, never doubting. For I know I shall find You as able and ready to help. I choose to trust in You and You alone. May my thoughts always be great and good toward You and may my heart be entirely devoted to You. Cause me never to trust in myself. Thank You that by Your Word and Spirit, You have made known the gospel to me. May I never succumb to the temptation to hide and conceal it but may I be willing to preach it with great contention and in the face of great opposition. Cause me to set my face as a flint to follow after You.
I depend on You
May I boldly come to Your throne for mercy and grace. I depend upon Your everlasting loving-kindness and truth for my preservation to the heavenly Kingdom. Thank You for the cross. For the sight of my sins in their own colours would drive me to distraction, if I did not have the sight of my Saviour. I will ever hope for victory over my spiritual enemies that seek after my soul to destroy it. Christ has triumphed over them, and so through Him, I shall be more than a conqueror.
May I in faith, through my Lord Jesus who has brought about my salvation pray that the great adversary and his plans be confounded. I declare that I will seek You and desire Your favour, and in all my distresses I will apply to You. I love Your salvation, may I be filled always with the joy of Your salvation. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.