John T. Willis

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Heart of True Religion--Psalm 40

Psalm 40:13-17 is almost identical with Psalm 70. The composer of Psalm 40 was poor and needy (40:17). He had been stricken with a serious disease from which he almost died (40:2). Evils and iniquities have overwhelmed him (40:12). His enemies have tried to destroy him (40:14-15). In spite of all this, he trusts in Yahweh, and not in false gods (40:4). He declares that if Yahweh will deliver him, he will tell the great congregation what Yahweh has done for him (40:5, 9-10). Psalm 4 falls into TWO PARAGRAPHS.

1. The Psalmist describes his earlier afflictions, and tells how Yahweh delivered him. 40:1-10.
    a. The psalmist's former experience is that he was very sick and almost died. He compares this with the desolate pit and the miry bog. But he prayed fervently to Yahweh, and Yahweh delivered him, drew him up from the desolate pit, and set him on a firm footing. 40:1-2.
    b. When Yahweh responded positively in this way, he put a new song, a song of praise to God causing many people to see and fear [honor] and put their trust in Yahweh. 40:3.
    c. The content of this new song is: (1) those who trust in the Lord and do not trust in false gods are blessed; (2) no one can compare the wonderful deeds which Yahweh has done. 40:4-5.
    d. The psalmist realizes and declares that offering burnt offerings and sin offerings to Yahweh is not sufficient. One must give oneself wholly to God. The psalmist says, Here I am, I delight to do your will. He gives himself totally to God. 40:6-8.  Hebrews 10:5-9 quotes Psalm 40:6-8, and puts these words into the mouths of Jesus Christ. This New Testament writer uses the Hebrew Bible typologically, not literally. This is a common way in which New Testament composers and speakers use the Hebrew Bible.
    e. The poet proclaims that he has openly told the great congregation what Yahweh has done for him and his comrades. It is unnatural and sinful to refrain from telling others what Yahweh has done for God's people.

2. The Psalmist beseeches Yahweh to deliver him from his present distress. 40:11-17.
     a. The composer confesses that he has committed evils and iniquities. He pleads for God's mercy, steadfast love, and faithfulness to keep him safe forever. 40:11-12.
     b. The poet implores Yahweh to deliver and help him from his distress, and to overthrow his enemies who are attempting to snatch away his life and desire his hurt. 40:13-15.
     c. The psalmist concludes by beseeching Yahweh not to delay to deliver him and help him so that all who seek Yahweh may rejoice and be glad in Yahweh, because "Great is the Lord." 40:16-17.

All of us face difficult circumstances in life. Turn to the Lord and trust in him, and he will deliver those in need.

Share YOUR reversals and problems and fears and resolutions and commitments to others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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