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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Psalms 40

Verses 1-5

Introduction

David asked the LORD if He would deliver him from the anger of God that he was suffering because of his iniquity (Psalms 39:8). In Psalm 40, the LORD answers David’s request. The answer comes through Christ, the Son of David, Who came to this world (Psalms 40:7) to do the will of God, namely, to save David and all of us.

This is a Messianic psalm. It is about the Lord Jesus. This is clear from Hebrews 10, where Psalms 40:6-Ruth : of this psalm are not listed as a quote from David, but are attributed to Christ. He speaks these words at His coming into the world (Hebrews 10:5-Judges :). The psalm represents the Lord Jesus Who becomes the obedient Servant on earth in the body God has prepared for Him. On earth He is afflicted and needy, while He waits patiently on God for help.

Chronologically, it seems that Psalms 40:1-Numbers : should be at the end of the psalm. This first section of the psalm deals with the resurrection of Christ and its consequences. From Psalms 40:6 to the end, it is about the coming of Christ and His sufferings. It is different in this psalm than in numerous other psalms where the depth of suffering is described first and ends with a song of redemption and victory.

We see that in this psalm Christ endures the sorrows of His people and is being tested in order to be an encouraging example for them. He waits for deliverance by His God as He submits to the will of God. In this psalm it is occasionally about the atoning suffering in place of His people. The main idea is the suffering of Christ as encouragement for the faithful remnant in the great tribulation to follow Him in it.

A New Song

For “for the choir director” (Psalms 40:1) see at Psalm 4:1.

For “a Psalm of David” see at Psalm 3:1.

There is no direct point of reference in David’s life that could be an occasion for writing this psalm. The Spirit of Christ inspired him to write this psalm with Christ in mind.

David or rather the Spirit of Christ begins the psalm by pointing out that he has “patiently”, in the sense of very strongly, “waited for the LORD” (Psalms 40:1). It has not been merely a weak expectation, but he has waited intensely. With him, perseverance has been a perfect work (James 1:4). He has continued to trust in God while he suffered deeply, and God did not intervene.

This was particularly true of Christ. His life on earth was suffering, especially during the last week of His life on earth. His example will be a special encouragement to the believing remnant when they suffer in the great tribulation.

Christ experienced how God bowed down to Him. God has, as it were, kept His ear to Christ’s mouth. In this way He listened attentively to His cries for help. We hear this cry for help from Him when He offers prayers and supplications in Gethsemane to Him Who is able to save Him from death. And He is heard because of His piety (Hebrews 5:7), after He has gone the whole way of obedience to God.

A first answer to His supplications happened at the moment He commits His spirit into the hands of the Father. Then the work is finished. After the three hours of darkness in which the Lord Jesus is forsaken by God, there is again fellowship with His God. He is then brought up “out of the pit of destruction” (Psalms 40:2; cf. Psalms 69:2; Psalms 69:14). By this is meant the water of God’s judgment that has come upon Him. He has been submerged in the miry clay of our sins.

The further fulfillment of the hearing occurs, when the glory of the Father raises the Lord Jesus from the dead (Romans 6:4), and sets His “feet upon a rock”. The resurrection is the solid, unshakable ground on which every believer stands who is connected to Christ through His work on the cross. On that way, the footsteps are made firm. There is no danger of falling into the pit again and sinking into the miry clay again.

This dealing of God in favor of Him in His deliverance is followed by the new song He puts into Christ’s mouth (Psalms 40:3). It is the song of complete deliverance from judgment because it was borne by Him. The new song is always connected to redemption (cf. Revelation 14:3).

The new song that is in His mouth becomes “a song of praise to our God”, which is a song of praise sung by all who call God “our God”. They belong to the Lord Jesus by faith in Him. Through His work, His God has also become their God (cf. John 20:17; Hebrews 2:12).

From what God has done in the resurrection of Christ, a testimony goes forth that is seen by many. As a result, they will fear God and trust in Him. This will also be true in the end times, when the believing remnant will sing the new song of salvation, having suffered with and for the sake of Christ, and have also been heard as He was heard. It is a testimony to all.

The same is true for us. Our lives are connected to the risen Lord. The new song we sing, the song of the Lamb, is also based on the sacrifice of Christ. It is a testimony to those around us, which will lead some to trust in God.

We are the first of the many who will sing the new song in heaven (Revelation 5:9; Revelation 14:3). We are already singing the new song on earth as a song of thanksgiving for the redemption given to us in Christ. Surely it is not possible to remain silent about His surrender to God, through which we have been saved from judgment and have received countless blessings, is it?

Those who, following Christ, put their trust in God are “blessed“ or happy in the fullest sense of the word (Psalms 40:4; cf. Psalms 1:1). The circumstances in which this occurs are mentioned in the second part of the verse. It is a time when many turn to people who are proud. Proud people trust in themselves and not in God. These are people who want to take the place of God; this is the very heart of the devil’s sin (1 Timothy 3:6), who wanted to be like God.

We see these proud people in the mass of apostate Jews. They reject the truth in Christ and resort to the lie (2 Thessalonians 2:11). Proudness and falsehood are the characteristics of the antichrist and his followers. Those who do not go along with this, but trust in God against the current, are blessed.

David, through the Spirit of Christ, expresses his marvel at the wonders the LORD his God has done to all who are of the remnant (Psalms 40:5). Every believer who is kept from being carried away in the apostasy is a wonder worked by God. This applies to the believers in the great tribulation. He has preserved them.

In fact, this is about the many wonders that the LORD has done for us in the past, especially in connection with Christ’s coming to earth. God’s wonders for His own are evident in every believer in all ages and in His people as a whole, both in the Old and New Testament.

Not only has God done many wonders, but He also has His thoughts about His own. These include His counsel, His intentions to bless all His own. His blessings include taking away our sins and allowing us to share in all the effects of Christ’s work. All of these thoughts have been accomplished by Christ. They are so numerous that they cannot be counted. They are also so great that they cannot be comprehended.

The significance is that it is not possible to place them in any particular order or also that nothing can be compared to Him. We simply do not have the words or the knowledge for it (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:9). We know in part or piece by piece (1 Corinthians 13:9). We cannot comprehend the entire picture and can only see blessing after blessing, marvel at it, and honor Him for it.

Verses 6-10

Behold, I Come

Psalms 40:6-Ruth : are not about David, but can only refer to Christ. This is clear from the quotation of these verses in the New Testament (Hebrews 10:7-1 Samuel :). By “sacrifice” (Psalms 40:6) is meant the peace offering. Of this offering the offeror may eat together with God and everyone who is pure. The “meal offering” is a non-bloody offering. In these sacrifices as such, God found no joy. They are only a shadow image. What God finds joy in is what these sacrifices refer to, which is Christ (Hebrews 9:11-2 Chronicles :; Hebrews 10:5-1 Samuel :).

God has found joy in Him of Whom He has “opened” the ears – literally “dug the ears” – that is the Lord Jesus. He is the true peace offering and the true meal offering. Through Him, fellowship between God and the repentant sinner has been restored. Of this the peace offering speaks. As the true meal offering, He lived completely to God’s glory. That is what the opened ears speak of.

In Hebrews 10, “ears pierced [better: dug]” is quoted from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. It says that God “prepared” Him “a body” (Hebrews 10:5). Ears indicate hearing and obedience. His body is, so to speak, all ears for the will of the Father. He became a Slave and became completely obedient in all things, to death, yes, to the death of the cross (Philippians 2:7-Ruth :).

We read three times about the ears of the Lord Jesus and each time it relates to His obedience:
1. “My ears You have opened” (Psalms 40:6) points to the Lord Jesus becoming Man in order to obey and die.
2 “Opened My ear” (Isaiah 50:4-Deuteronomy :), speaks of His life on earth being marked by obedience.
3. “Pierce his ear”, is about the ear of the Lord Jesus in the picture of the Hebrew slave (Exodus 21:5-Joshua :). This refers to the end of His service and life on earth, which are characterized by obedience. Also, this speaks of the fact that He will serve forever (Luke 12:37).

Of burnt offering and sin offering, Christ says that God has not required them. Did God not then prescribe or require the sin offering? After all, it says so time and again in Leviticus 4 (Leviticus 4:2-:; Leviticus 4:13-2 Chronicles :Leviticus 4:22-Isaiah :; Leviticus 4:27-Hosea :). Certainly they were sacrificed because He commanded it. But it does not mean that He found any joy in doing so or that in bringing them the requirement of His righteousness was fulfilled. The LORD could only find joy in those sacrifices because they are shadow of the sacrifice of Christ. Therefore, He could pass over the sins of the offerors (Romans 3:25).

Those sacrifices could not take away sins and could be brought with insincere hearts. God has never required them as sacrifices by which anyone can be brought into His presence, for that is impossible. An animal burnt offering cannot make a man acceptable to God, and an animal sin offering cannot take away any sin from a sinful man.

The word “then” with which Psalms 40:7 begins has the meaning “because this is so”, referring to the observation of the previous verse. Then the Lord Jesus speaks the impressive words “behold, I come”. He offers Himself to fulfill what no animal sacrifice has been able to do and to fulfill what all sacrifices have been pointing to: to Himself as the true Sacrifice.

He does so in accordance with what is written “in the scroll of the book” about Him (cf. Luke 4:17-Ecclesiastes :). It is impossible to apply this to David. No one but the Lord Jesus can say this. Of no one but the Lord Jesus can it be written that He said anything “when He comes into the world” (Hebrews 10:5). God established in His counsel that Christ would come. He is the Lamb foreknown before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20). David says this prophetically of the Lord Jesus.

He offers Himself not only willingly but joyfully to do God’s will, which for Him means to “delight to do Your will” (Psalms 40:8). He knows that in doing God’s will He is carrying out His good pleasure. He is also fully capable of doing so, for God’s law is within His heart. His obedience is not only an outward, but also an inward matter. He carries out the whole law of God from His innermost being. We may well ask ourselves whether we are not merely doing the right things outwardly, and also whether God’s Word is within our heart so that from there we can govern all our thoughts, words and actions.

In the Lord Jesus, God’s law worked in His heart to proclaim “glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation” (Psalms 40:9). He does this while He goes His way on earth in “the great congregation” of Israel. We can think, for example, of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 which He spoke before a large crowd (Matthew 5:1).

He testified in great faithfulness of God’s righteousness as “glad tidings”. God’s righteousness is a glad tiding to the repentant sinner. He has not restrained His lips from speaking of it. He cannot and will not do otherwise and can therefore say that the LORD knows (cf. John 17:4; John 17:6John 17:8; John 17:14John 17:26)!

What He utters, what He testifies to, is nothing but what is peculiar to God: His righteousness, His truth, His salvation, His lovingkindness and His faithfulness (Psalms 40:10). God’s law is in His heart, but God’s “righteousness” He has not hidden in His heart. He has proclaimed God’s “faithfulness” and God’s “salvation”. God’s truth about man and the holiness of God have been preached by Him. He also pointed out the love of God by presenting God’s salvation, which is the way to be saved.

God’s “lovingkindness” connects to God’s salvation. lovingkindness is the Hebrew chesed. It means covenant faithfulness. These are the blessings, the good things, that the LORD wants to give, either on the basis of the faithfulness of the people – which is not the case – or on the basis of the work of a Mediator Who fulfilled the requirements of the covenant, the requirements of the law, by dying on the cross.

In Christ, “the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared” (Titus 3:4). The entire life up to and including Christ’s death is the proclamation of God’s lovingkindness. To this connects to God’s faithfulness. The Lord Jesus showed that God is completely faithful and worthy of trust.

Christ has revealed all these qualities of God in righteousness, that is, what He does is in accordance with Who God is. He did not hide God’s righteousness in the great congregation of Israel. Always and everywhere He spoke of Who God is, for the purpose that God’s people would return to God.

Verses 11-16

Cry for Help

David, and also those imitating him, that is the faithful remnant, takes refuge in the God of the past (Deuteronomy 33:26; Deuteronomy 33:27). Some translate “LORD” as “eternal God”, literally “the God of yesterday”, that is, the God Who has shown in the past who He is and what He does. Now that the remnant has seen what God does (Psalms 40:1-2 Samuel :), they go and ask the LORD for salvation (Psalms 40:11-Esther :). We too ask God for help based on what He has done in the past through the Lord Jesus.

The Lord Jesus, in Psalms 40:9-2 Samuel :, testified in great faithfulness to some of the features of God in the great congregation of Israel. Now He makes an appeal to some of the features of God for Himself (Psalms 40:11). He asks that He not withhold His mercy from Him because of His misery (Psalms 40:12).

The psalmist, and that also applies to the believing remnant, also asks if He will protect him with His lovingkindness and truth. He has made these known and now asks if God will also fulfill them to him. He also asks that God do so “continually”. David is here a type or shadow of Christ as the true Man Who asks for preservation during the enormous work He has to do.

The occasion of the psalmist’s question, and that of the remnant, are the evils beyond number which surround him, that is, which surround him from all sides (Psalms 40:12). He is surrounded by them, completely enclosed by them. These evils are the result of his faithfulness to God. The same is true of the “iniquities” that have hit him.

It is about the iniquities of Israel, the two sins of the people: the rejection of Christ and the receiving of the antichrist. When we think of Christ, it is exclusively about the iniquities He took upon Himself for those who believe in Him, to suffer God’s judgment therefore (Hebrews 2:17; 2 Corinthians 5:21). They are the iniquities of all the redeemed. By taking these upon Himself, He has executed the will of God to the fullest.

The evils and iniquities that will come upon the remnant in the great tribulation constitute an uncountable number. The hairs of the head indicate a quantity that cannot be counted by us (cf. Psalms 69:4). God is able to do so (Matthew 10:30). What comes upon the psalmist, and upon the remnant, has so affected him that his heart has failed him.

As for the application to Christ, God knows perfectly what sins Christ had to bear. For Christ, all that He has had to bear is immeasurable more than any man can possibly conceive.

In his great distress, the psalmist cries out that it may please God to deliver him and come to his aid soon (Psalms 40:13). In view of this unfathomable suffering, of a gravity beyond human imagination, the Lord Jesus in Gethsemane “offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety” (Hebrews 5:7). At the same time, His perfect obedience in surrendering to the Father’s will is also evident (John 18:11).

Psalms 40:14-Nehemiah : distinguish between the faithful and the apostate masses of the Jewish people. The touchstone will be the attitude taken toward the suffering Christ. The masses have sought Christ’s life and killed Him and delighted in His hurt (Psalms 40:14).

Christ’s rightful question to God is to make them ashamed and humiliate them together. They must be turned back and be dishonored, for they have sought to prevent Him from doing God’s work and testifying of God. Such adversaries, as a reward for the reproach they have poured out on Him, must become appalled, or desolated, that is, become like a field where nothing grows (Psalms 40:15).

They have laughed mockingly at Him Who came to them from God to save them. Christ has become an object of mockery, especially at the end of His way of obedience. When He hangs on the cross, His adversaries amuse themselves with gloating over Him. Those who mock the lovingkindness of God in this way deserve judgment.

For those who seek God, Christ asks the opposite (Psalms 40:16). He never seeks His own glory, but always that of His God. He wants those who seek God to rejoice and be glad in God Himself. All who love the salvation of God are those who rejoice in the way of salvation that God has given in Christ. They have accepted that salvation and rejoice in being saved from the bondage of sin. They cannot help but “continually say, The LORD be magnified!”

Verse 17

The Lord Is Mindful of Me

This verse brings us back to all the sufferings the Lord endured. When He asks for us that we will rejoice in God’s salvation and the glorious results of His work, we must never forget the circumstances in which He has been. He Himself never forgets that He has been “afflicted and needy”. We know that He has been so for our sake, that through His poverty we might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). The same is true of the “afflicted and needy” believing remnant (Matthew 5:3).

In all circumstances, He knows that God is mindful of Him. He may be forsaken and forgotten by everyone, but not by God. He clings to that. He knows that God is his Helper and Deliverer. He turns to Him and asks Him not to wait any longer for His salvation. This does not speak of despair, but of a perfect trust. Always He continued to trust in His God.

He is the example for the believing remnant in the time of the great tribulation. He is also the great example for us in the trials and sufferings we experience for His Name’s sake. We can endure all tribulations if we trust that God has not forgotten us, but is mindful of us, even if everyone forsakes us. God never stops being mindful of us.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 40". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/psalms-40.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.