March 16 2023
Today, Thursday March 16
Waiting Patiently for the LORD
Psalm 40:1-5 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth-- Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the LORD. Blessed is that man who makes the LORD his trust, And does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works Which You have done; And Your thoughts toward us Cannot be recounted to You in order; If I would declare and speak of them, They are more than can be numbered.”
There is no doubt that Psalm 40 was written by David, but when he wrote it is another matter. Some place its composition during his outlaw years when he was the special object of King Saul's hate. For a number of years David must have felt that he was in a horrible pit of disappointments and even despair. It was during this time that he told Jonathan, Saul’s son, that “there was but a step between me and death” (1 Samuel 20:3). In other words, David felt like he was only one step away from being killed by Saul.
No matter how hard he tried to get out of this “horrible pit” of his troubles and suffering, his loneliness and despair, he would slip and slide right back into it. David must have felt like a person who would not be able to make any progress out of a pit of wet and slippery miry clay. Do you feel like this is where you are today? Well, then this Psalm is for you!
But this Psalm could just as easily have been written during the time of the Absalom rebellion when David had to flee for his life. He had to wait patiently for the LORD to reach down and lift him up out of a terrible time in his life.
The words of Psalm 40 themselves, of course, are prophetic. They are picked up and quoted by the Holy Spirit in Hebrews 10:5, as speaking primarily of Christ. Along with Psalm 41, this is a Messianic Psalm predicting the crucifixion of Christ. These two Psalms conclude the first book of the Psalms. This is also a proper psalm to follow Psalm 39. All of these psalms go together; that is, you will note a continuity.
But this Psalm is quoted in the Epistle to the Hebrews in a most remarkable way. In this Psalm the One who celebrates in praise and thanksgiving the Resurrection, the triumph and Ascension, is the Lord Jesus Himself. This is truly a Messianic psalm. It reveals that the death of Christ was not a defeat at all. It was a great victory. When He says, "I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry," He is referring to His cry from the cross.
Hebrews 10:5-9 quotes 40:6-8 and applies the passage to Christ. Some see the birth of Christ in verse 7, His sinless life in verse 8, and His sacrificial death in verse 6. However, it was first of all a psalm about David and his needs and how the Lord met them. Verses 1-5 picture his deliverance during the dangerous exile years, and verses 6-10 describe his dedication as the new king. Verses 11-17 appear to be a record of his prayer for personal forgiveness (v. 12; see 38:3-5 and 39:8-9) and victory over his enemies following his coronation. It does seem that verse 16 is a royal prayer for God's blessing on the nation.
You find verses 13-17 repeated in modified form in Psalm 70. From whatever experiences led to the writing of this psalm, David learned some valuable lessons and he gives us three important instructions to follow in the difficult times of life. First, we should praise God for all He has done (vv. 1-5). We should give God all that He asks (vv. 6-10). And we should trust God for all that remains (vv. 11-17).
We live in a broken world and no doubt many of us today can relate to this Psalm. It is my prayer that truly we will “wait patiently for the LORD” to lift us up and set our feet on the Solid Rock of Ages, the Lord Jesus Christ!