Scripture

Psalm 40

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;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.

Blessed is the one
    who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
    to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, Lord my God,
    are the wonders you have done,
    the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
    were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
    they would be too many to declare.

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
    but my ears you have opened—
    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, my God;
    your law is within my heart.”

I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
    I do not seal my lips, Lord,
    as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
    I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
    from the great assembly.

11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
    may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
12 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.
13 Be pleased to save me, Lord;
    come quickly, Lord, to help me.

14 May all who want to take my life
    be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
    be turned back in disgrace.
15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
    be appalled at their own shame.
16 But may all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
    “The Lord is great!”

17 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
    may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
    you are my God, do not delay.

Reflection

This Psalm begins with a recall of past deliverance. The Psalmist gives credit to God for pulling him out of the “pit.” With words of thanksgiving and praise, it is almost like the Psalmist is reminding himself of the ability and faithfulness of God. The writer finds it necessary to recall the past great victories of God in his life, perhaps to provide faith and strength for the struggles to come. The Psalmist seems happy to give God all the credit and let others know of God’s great faithfulness. “Blessed is the man…” is a way of saying, “The key to happiness is…..” In this case, it is the person who puts trust in the Lord who finds happiness, who is blessed. And not just trust in the time of need, but complete trust at all times. The law (word of God) is written on the Psalmist’s heart. Living a life of faith in God is a way of life, every day. That is where blessedness comes, happiness. Notice the Psalmist still found himself in a pit. Though he trusted the Lord completely, there were still dark times.

 

In fact, in verse 11, the writer seems desperate for help again. Just as the Psalmist was singing the praises of God, here he is in another pit. Yet, his faith does not falter. He continues to proclaim trust in the Lord. This is what it is to live a life walking in faith. There are ups and downs, difficulties and celebrations. Happiness is not found in lack of difficulty, but in having a deliverer, a savior that is there in the pit with us, who gives us strength to endure and overcome. God can and will pull you out of any pit, and place your feet on steady ground. We can stand strong in this knowledge. We can cry out for help when we are in need, and proclaim the victory when it comes. The Psalmist reminds us we are called to do both.

 

Is your faith in God consistent, even in the midst of difficulty? It is OK to doubt. God can handle your doubts, but blessings come when we remain focused on the goodness and faithfulness of God, even through dark times. 

Prayer

Dear Lord, teach me to hear, lead me to see and guide me to heed your words. Let these words from the Psalms infuse my soul. I trust you, Oh Holy One. I submit fully to your will for my life. Lead me on the path of righteousness and forgive me for the ways I fail. May your grace be born anew in me each day. Amen.