How does God rescue us from all the pits we fall into through life? That’s what Psalm 40 is all about!
The Pathway out of the Pits
Christ is our refuge we can flee to Him at any time and in any condition—and He will never turn anyone away. So how did David get rescued from the pits? How did God lead him out? Here is the simple pathway recorded in this confession of God’s faithfulness he made from the pits.
Now, lets go back over this Psalm and learn from each step David took as the Lord led him out of the pits.
- DAVID REMEMBERED GOD’S WORK IN HIS LIFE. David first notes the five ways God had worked in his life. Here is God’s grace directed towards David—Psalm 40:1-3I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. 2 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. 3 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.
The first step out of the pits is to remember God’s work in our lives. David remembered God’s work in his life. Think back over your salvation experience. Repeat it to yourself, mull it over in your heart. Then think of the last time you cried to the Lord and He responded. Go over that in your mind—that is what David was doing!
Like David, we need to remember God’s work of grace in our lives.
- DAVID REAFFIRMED HIS TRUST IN GOD.Psalm 40:4-5 Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust, And does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. 5 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.
David verbally says that he trusts God.
Sometimes we need to break the spiritual silence in our heart by talking to God. Telling Him what we know is true. Preaching the Gospel we believe—to ourselves! David reaffirmed his trust in God. Are you?
Do you remember the words to last Sunday’s hymn? It is a great sermon to preach to your soul. Why not practice with me? Lets repeat these words to the Lord and remember God’s work in our lives?
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.
Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!
Like David, we need to reaffirm our trust in the Lord..
- DAVID RENEWED HIS SUBMISSION TO GOD.Psalm 40:6-8 Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require. 7 Then I said, “Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. 8 I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.”
Inviting God to open our ears is the key to submission with God. This is a dual analogy. Digging is a word for clearing away debris as well as deeply inscribing. These are the two steps to submission—clear out any hindrances that are in the way, and submit to the permanent marking of ownership.
First, the Hebrew word literally means “to dig out”. Notice the other times it is used:
- Genesis 50:5 ‘My father made me swear, saying, “Behold, I am dying; in my grave which I dug for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me.” Now therefore, please let me go up and bury my father, and I will come back.’ ”
Like the grave—you dug things out of my life so that there was room for you to fill my life. A grave was where they laid what was dearest to them on earth. God is through excruciating times making room in my life to deposit something special.
- Numbers 21:18 The well the leaders sank, Dug by the nation’s nobles, By the lawgiver, with their staves.” And from the wilderness they went to Mattanah,
Like the well–You took everything out of my life painful as it was, in these lonely times, so that I could hear your voice clearly and your water could flow into my life.
Both are pictures of clearing things out of the way–so that the water can flow into the well, and to make room for something in the grave. So David says you dug my ears.
What a beautiful way to look at hard times!
God is tunneling a well of water to refresh me; God is making room to bury into my life His greatest treasures. But that is not all that David shares with us from this time in the pits. There is another exciting picture for us of submission to God.
The second way that David uses this word is to look back at an ancient Mosaic ritual. When slaves had worked their term of service and it was time to be free they were released to start out on their own. But if the slaves loved their master and their work, they could request a lifetime servitude. This is covered in a fascinating ritual recorded in:
- Exodus 21:1-6 “Now these are the judgments which you shall set before them: 2 If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing. 3 If he comes in by himself, he shall go out by himself; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master has given him a wife, and she has borne him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. 5 But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ 6 then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever. (public, painful, and permanent)
For us on this side of the cross–here is such a moving picture of what God wants from us. He invites us to become His Bondslaves, servants for life. If we are willing and so desire we declare that publicly like Paul does so often. “I want to serve the Lord all my days.” Then we make some painful choices in life to limit our flesh, discipline our life, invest in the world to come instead of merely in this world. And when we make that offering of our lives that is reflected in Romans 12, it is a permanent service that goes through life and lasts forever.
- Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present (aorist infinitive—‘remain in the state of) your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed (present imperative ‘do not allow yourself to get squashed”) to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
- Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Thomas Chisholm (1866-1960) says it best (Hymn # 372), “Oh Jesus, Lord and Savior—I give myself to Thee…”!
Living for Jesus, a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.
O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me.
I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy throne.
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.
Living for Jesus Who died in my place,
Bearing on Calvary my sin and disgrace;
Such love constrains me to answer His call,
Follow His leading and give Him my all.
Living for Jesus, wherever I am,
Doing each duty in His holy Name;
Willing to suffer affliction and loss,
Deeming each trial a part of my cross.
Living for Jesus through earth’s little while,
My dearest treasure, the light of His smile;
Seeking the lost ones He died to redeem,
Bringing the weary to find rest in Him.
Like David, we need to renew our submission to the Lord.
- DAVID REPEATED TRUTHS ABOUT GOD—He is Righteous.Psalm 40:9-10 I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness In the great assembly; Indeed, I do not restrain my lips, O Lord, You Yourself know. 10 I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your loving kindness and Your truth From the great assembly.
As David looked back over his life of loneliness, desperation, sorrow and fear—he saw one truth most clearly, God is Righteous. The key New Testament book on righteousness is Romans—mentioned 66 times we see God’s righteousness and our need of it. In Romans Paul declares that God is righteous in the four key areas that matter for eternity:
- God is righteous in declaring us as hopeless in our sin (1-2);
- God is righteous in providing for our salvation (3-5, 9-11);
- God is righteous in demanding our sanctification (6-8);
- God is righteous in bestowing gifts for our service (12-16).
So David’s life testifies to God’s righteousness. God is always faithful and what He does is right! So David says God is righteous.
- God is righteous in my: Perilous years when I was a fugitive;
- God is righteous in my: Prosperous years when I was victorious in every battle and sat upon the Throne;
- God is righteous in my: Punitive years when I sinned and God had to chasten me;
- God is righteous in my: Peaceful years when I gathered treasures to build the Temple.
Like David, we need to repeat truths about the Lord.
- DAVID REJOICES IN GOD.Psalm 40: 11-17. The bottom line of life is—who do you want to please? There are only two possible choices at the deepest level. Either we please God or we in one way or another are seeking to please ourselves. David wanted God to be pleased. It started way back in his youth as we saw in Psalm 19.
- Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.
David broke with the crowd, stopped getting and seeking approval from his peers and went straight to the top. He wanted God and God alone to be his goal. And that was still his desire.
One way or another we all get what we want in life. David wanted God. Do we? Really, down deep in your heart of hearts are you planning, figuring, calculating, scheming—how do give God more of your life? David was and did and look at him now—forever settled in Heaven as a man after God’s own heart.
Like David, we need to rejoice in the Lord.
- DAVID INTERCEDES FOR OTHERS. Psalm 40: 16-17Though we at times are desperate—God is not. He knows what is coming before it ever starts. God is managing every detail. What does David do in verse 4? He prays for others who sought God. What does that say to us? When we are alone and struggling it is the perfect time to pray for others who may be going through what we are facing. Here is a simple plan we can remember:
- Are you sick? Then pray for others who are sick—you know what they are going through!
- Are you abused by co-workers, family members, or classmates? Then pray for others going through the same pains and hurts.
- Are you in a dead end job? Then pray for hope for others that also face the daily struggle of what to do to survive in the days ahead.
- Are you successful and tempted to be selfish? Then pray for others you know who are also experiencing prosperity and ask God to keep them from selfishness and pride.
Like David, we need to intercede for others.
All of this was intended by God to prepare David for the throne—and how it did. What a great king he was. Like we saw this morning, from God’s creation we can learn a profound lesson. The mother eagle shows its love for its young by destroying their nest. Without this rude and painful start in their lives they would be too comfortable to ever learn to soar. Though they protest loudly the destruction continues until it is too painful to sit on all those sharp sticks—and they take flight. So God allows irritants
David could have been overcome with fear and grief and despair—but God held him up. In latter life David looked back on these times and wrote another Psalm, let’s turn there next.
David had found a place he could always reach for safety and security—in any situation. The Lord was his refuge; the Lord is our refuge also. Christ our refuge is the safest spot in the Universe. He is the place we go when life gets tough.
Psalm 70 is the final Psalm from this time in David’s life. It is reflective as he looks back on this time and shares the Lord!
- Psalm 70:1-5 Make haste, O God, to deliver me! Make haste to help me, O Lord! 2 Let them be ashamed and confounded Who seek my life; Let them be turned back and confused Who desire my hurt. 3 Let them be turned back because of their shame, Who say, “Aha, aha!” 4 Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; And let those who love Your salvation say continually, “Let God be magnified!” 5 But I am poor and needy; Make haste to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay.
Cry to God when life is hollow. Life was so bad at this time that David says four times in verses 1, 5—make haste, come now, don’t wait, hasten. He says Lord I am not going to make it in this job, this marriage, this family, this sickness, this disaster. Quickly come, I am sinking and am going to perish.
Don’t be surprised by troubles. For a moment think who this is—David the man after God’s heart. David the one Jesus is named after “Son of David” – and he had such a difficult life. Come to think of it, so did Moses, and Elijah, and Paul, and Peter—in fact, they all seem to have a hard life. If we look to the end of this Psalm we find in the conclusion the real goal God has for us. Real victory in life is not evading and escaping the majority of troubles that head our way. No, it is to seek that God be exalted through my life what ever He chooses to do with me and all my hard times.
Live with mysteries. We can’t always know why God is allowing circumstances—but we do know we can trust Him to do all things well. Jesus said to His disciples in John 13:7, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”
Accept your situation. What is unchangeable must be accepted and lived through by God’s grace. As Paul said, we must echo, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13)
One final lesson–the message of Psalm 56, 34 and 70 is summarized in one of Paul’s most repeated exhortations, Philippians 4:6-7. If we could summarize these two verses they would say in the form of two imperatives: “Worry about nothing; pray about everything!”
David rejoiced in God. Are you? Troubles—yes; pessimism—no! Poor and needy—always!