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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Psalms 40

Verses 1-3

The psalmist testified to his people that the Lord had answered his prayer for deliverance after a long wait; God had reestablished His servant. Consequently David had a new song of praise for the Lord. His praise would encourage others to renew their confidence in Yahweh.

Verses 1-10

1. Thanksgiving for salvation 40:1-10

Verses 1-17

Psalms 40

In this psalm, David offered himself as a sacrifice to God because the Lord had delivered him. He also lamented his distress and prayed for salvation. The psalm is a combination of thanksgiving (Psalms 40:1-10) and lament (Psalms 40:11-17), and it is messianic (Psalms 40:6-8; cf. Hebrews 10:5-9). [Note: Wiersbe, The . . . Wisdom . . ., p. 171.]

Verse 4

The person who does not rely on the self-sufficient or liars but puts his complete trust in the Lord experiences great blessing.

Verse 5

The Lord’s wonderful acts for the righteous are too numerous to recount fully, much less His beneficent thoughts. No one can compare with Yahweh regarding His gracious plans to bless.

Verse 6

Animal and meal offerings were not of primary importance to God under the Mosaic Law. More important than sacrifices for either worship or expiation was the believer’s true commitment of himself or herself to the Lord (cf. 1 Samuel 15:22-23).

The phrase, "my ears Thou hast opened (or pierced)," may mean David viewed God as having made him His willing slave by being so gracious to him (cf. Exodus 21:6). However, it seems more probable that David meant God had given him the ability to comprehend and obey His Word (cf. Psalms 40:8).

Verses 7-8

Because God had been so good to David, the psalmist yielded his life as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2). As the Lord’s anointed king, David was responsible to follow the directions handed on to him in the scroll of the Mosaic Law. Because God had captured his affections, David could say the Law was in his heart, not just in his hands. He delighted to do God’s will rather than just doing it out of obligation.

In Hebrews 10:5-7, the writer of that epistle quoted Psalms 40:6-8 concerning Jesus Christ’s attitude at His incarnation. The sacrifices of the Mosaic system could never satisfy God’s high demands. They only removed sin temporarily and expressed worship superficially. The offering that fully satisfied God was the willing self-sacrifice of the sinless Son of Man. Jesus Christ offered Himself to God as David did, as he expressed in this psalm.

Verses 9-10

Part of God’s will for David, as a person and as Israel’s king, was that he should praise the Lord. The psalmist said he carried out this duty joyfully. He spoke publicly of God’s righteousness, faithfulness, salvation, loyal love, and truth.

Verses 11-12

The upbeat spirit of this psalm changes dramatically at Psalms 40:11. David appealed to the Lord for continuing deliverance on the basis of God’s past salvation and the psalmist’s personal dedication to God. He referred to his troubles as arising out of his many sins (Psalms 40:12). He had praised God for His loyal love and truth in the past (Psalms 40:10). Now he counted on those qualities to sustain him in the future (Psalms 40:11).

"He was so deeply troubled that he lost perspective . . ." [Note: VanGemeren, p. 323.]

Verses 11-17

2. Petition for salvation 40:11-17

"It appears that the lament is composed with precise reference to the thanksgiving song so that the thanksgiving song adds weight to the complaint." [Note: Brueggemann, p 131.]

Verses 13-15

David cried out for quick deliverance (cf. Psalms 35:4). As the Lord’s anointed who was serving Him sacrificially with a pure heart, the psalmist could make such a request boldly.

"It must be remembered that the enemies were probably not known personally. They were Israel’s national enemies who hated Israel, David, and Yahweh, the God of Israel. The psalmist no doubt knew the admonition to love one’s enemies (cf. Proverbs 25:21; Matthew 5:44), but these enemies destabilized the rule of God on earth! As long as the kingdom of God suffers persecution and harassment, we pray for God’s kingdom to come, which includes the petition that the Lord will come to vindicate his own and avenge his enemies (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). The enemies liked taking potshots at God’s people, shouting contemptibly, ’Aha! Aha!’ (Psalms 40:15; Psalms 35:21; Psalms 35:25). The psalmist prays that the Lord will quickly and suddenly change their fortunes so that they will know who is God (Psalms 40:14; cf. Psalms 35:4; cf. Psalms 35:26 . . ." [Note: Ibid., p. 324.]

Verse 16

A speedy deliverance from King David’s enemies would move the people of Israel to rejoice, feel encouraged, and praise the Lord.

Verse 17

The Lord’s "living sacrifice," i.e., David, cried out again, in conclusion, that the One to whom he looked for help would save him soon (cf. Psalms 35:10; Psalms 37:14). Psalms 40:13-17 are very similar to Psalms 70.

We who are believers should present ourselves as living sacrifices to the Lord with a willing heart because of His grace to us. Having done so we can appeal to Him for help against our spiritual enemies and expect His aid. Nevertheless we should base our appeal on what will glorify God. [Note: See Allen, Lord of . . ., pp. 43-56.]

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 40". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/psalms-40.html. 2012.