Meditation on Psalm 40
A Meditation on Psalm 40:1-11
A careful reading of this Psalm would show that the subject dealt with is Sanctification. There is no doubt that David is going through deep trouble (vv 12-17), and he has not yet come out of the crisis. Yet he praises the Lord. By faith he sees God delivering him out of this dreadful trial.
So he begins with praise. And in those first three verses we see God as
i. The One who hears prayer.
ii. The One who delivers from destruction.
iii. The One who establishes our walk.
iv. The One who puts a new song of praise in our mouth.
David has proved these four facts about God through his repeated experiences of deliverance from trials over the years. Those 13 years of persecution by Saul have not gone in vain.
We have stated that the subject is Sanctification. The Psalm is not the psalm of a person who has recently come to the Lord, who has just been saved from sin, redeemed by the Blood of Jesus. No, this is the Psalm of a mature son of God who is being purified by a fiery trial so that a deep work may be done in his heart and soul, manifested by
i. The opening of his ears.
ii. His coming to delight in God's will.
The experience of salvation is static for many believers, because they reject the process of sanctification or the saving of the soul. When we are born again, salvation applies to our spirit; but when we grow in the Lord (and for every believer, there must be spiritual growth), salvation applies to our soul. We must have an ear for the voice of the Lord. Isa 30.21. We must be able to hear His voice daily, Isa 50:4. Too often, our ears are open to the voices of the world, or the voices and suggestions of our unbeliever friends.
But a greater blessing is to have God's law planted in our heart. In the beginning we are accustomed to the law being outside us. As children we are told to 'do this, do that' or 'don't do this, don't do that'. But now, with the Holy Spirit taking charge of us within, we are subject to God's will (and it is as if God's law is planted within us). God's will is no longer a duty to be done reluctantly, but His will becomes our delight. We rejoice in it. This is something we learn after many trials, many experiences of 'fire and water' (Ps 66:12), before our souls are truly sanctified and we willingly serve the Lord. We even delight in the fear of the Lord, Isa 11:3. Because the fear of the Lord (lacking in most Christians) is a wonderful 'regulator' of the Christian life. The lack of holy reverence for God is what makes many dabble so deeply with the world and continue to indulge in cheap lusts of the flesh.
The Psalmist makes it clear that he has made the Lord his trust. He no longer believes in men, who make bold promises in pride and self-sufficiency, but cannot keep them. As David said elsewhere, 'all men are liars'. The man of flesh is a 'broken reed'. We can only trust in the Lord, for He is our Rock.
David makes it clear that our worship & service should not be formal, ritualistic or hypocritical (1 Sam 15:22), but should be backed by a heart of obedience to the Lord. True worship arises out of a trusting and thankful, willing and obedient heart. But such a heart is itself the product of a deep experience of the cross; it is a sanctified heart, where the subtle sins of the spirit (selfishness, slander, pride, compromise, petty falsehoods, cheating on God) have no place any more; it is a purified heart, and its worship is pure and fragrant before God.
There is one more thought, with reference to verses 5 and 12. The wonders that God has done in our life are too numerous to count; His precious thoughts towards us cannot be numbered. At the same time the iniquities that David finds in his heart are too numerous to count; and he feels that the evils that surround him are too many to be numbered. And so 'where sin increased, grace abounded all the more' (Rom 5:20). No wonder David rejoices in the loving-kindness and compassion of the Lord; at the same time, knowing that the Lord chastens those whom He loves, David rejoices in His righteousness and truth. It was right for the Lord to deal with me thus, he says; for 'before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep Thy word', Psalm 119:67.
Are we willing to accept the painful process of sanctification or are we going to fool ourselves with a false justification?
© Roland N Oliver/Pratonix
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