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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Psalms 40

Verses 1-17

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. If I were to read this Psalm all through as referring to Christ, and to Christ only, I should be correct in so doing; but still, there is such a unity between Christ and those who compose his mystical body that, what is true of the Head, is true of the members. What is true of the Vine, is true of the branches. What is true of Christ, is true of those who are in him. Therefore, this Psalm relates to David as well as to “great David’s greater Son”, and it also concerns every one who is of the royal seed, every true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the Psalm begins :—

Psalms 40:1. I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.

“I waited.” Do not beggars wait long at a fellow-creature’s door for some pitiful alms, and should not I be content to linger at Mercy’s gate for such great boons as I am craving? “I waited patiently.” Well may we tarry in patience till Jehovah’s time to help, since we know that “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him; and if he be pitiful, we can well afford to be patient, “I waited patiently for Jehovah.” Those who have been most mighty in prayer have sometimes had to wait for the answers to their supplications. Do not expect the Lord to hear thee today or tomorrow. He may hear thee before thou speakest, according to his promise, “Before they call, I will answer;” but he may, for the trial of thy faith, make thee wait. Art thou able to wait? Then thou art certain to receive a great blessing. “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me,” bowed down out of heaven, inclined unto me, stooped to me, thought well of me, and of my prayer also, “and heard my cry.”

Psalms 40:2. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

This is a wonderful song, full of rapturous joy. You know how Orientals were accustomed to cast their prisoners into pits, and those pits were often horribly deep, and dark, and damp; and the mud at the bottom would be such that a man would sink in it. David sings of the Lord, “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay.” What a wonderful up-bringing was this; and, as God never does anything by halves, he did not let his servant slip back again, for David added, “and set my feet upon a rock.” “He set my feet.” When God sets a man’s feet, those feet are well set; there is no sliding, no slipping, then. The Lord set’ David’s feet upon a rock; and, more than that, established his goings, made them firm, so that when he stirred he did not stumble.

Psalms 40:3. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God:

Sing, then, believer! Thou didst groan often enough in the pit; sing now that thou art on the rock. Thou wast desolate enough in the dungeon; sound aloud thy grateful thanksgivings now that thy goings are established.

Psalms 40:3. Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.

There you have a picture of a sinner’s conversion and its effects. The man sees the Lord’s goodness to the child of God in distress. He fears; that is, he stands in awe of the great God; and then he also believes, he trusts in the Lord. One saint makes many; one child of God brought up out of the horrible pit leads to the bringing up of a great many others in the same way.

Psalms 40:4. Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.

If you trust in God, you will have no reverence for the proud, nor for those who turn aside from God’s Word, and teach falsehood. If you really fear God, you will have no fear of men.

Psalms 40:5. Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

The child of God, reviewing the Lord’s great goodness, feels that he can never count the mercies of God to him; and, as to telling them out, that can never be, It will be, perhaps, a part of our eternal employment to tell to angels, and principalities, and powers in the heavenly places the story of the lovingkindness of the Lord which we have experienced here below. If we had no troubles, we should have nothing to tell; but now that we are led in a strange way, and into very difficult places, we can write another page in our diary, which will be worth reading in those days when fictions shall all have been consumed in the fire, but the great facts in the lives of the Lord’s people shall make God to be admired in his saints for ever and ever.

Psalms 40:6-8. Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

Spoke I not truly when I said that the Christ of God is here? To whom is this passage one hundredth part so applicable as to the Lord Jesus himself? Does not Paul dwell upon this passage as teaching the putting aside of the old covenant law, and the bringing in of something better, even the obedience of Christ our Saviour? However, this evening, I wish to read the Scripture in reference to the saints, the Lord’s own people. I trust that many of us, seeing that God does not delight in ritualistic performances, and in the externals of religion, so much as he does in the obedience of the heart, can come to him, and declare with David, “I delight to do thy will, O my God.” Beloved friends, you are not what you ought to be; you are not what you want to be; you are not what you shall be; but, tell me, are you ever happier than when you are consciously doing the will of God? Do you not find misery in sin, and delight in holiness? If you can say that it is so with you, then you are bound for the kingdom; you are on the way to complete victory over sin. Be of good cheer; he who has wrought in you this selfsame thing, to delight to do the will of God, will grant you grace to do it. He will bruise Satan under your feet shortly; and your inbred corruptions shall yet be uprooted by the Spirit of his grace.

Psalms 40:9. I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest.

This is what Jesus can say. He was the Prince of open-air preachers, the Great Itinerant, the President of the College of all preachers of the gospel; and I trust that many of us here can also say that, according to our ability and opportunity, we have tried to tell of Christ to those round about us.

Psalms 40:10. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.

If any of you have done so, if there has been a sinful reticence about the things of God, if called to preach, you yet have not preached the full gospel of God’s grace, the Lord forgive you, and bring you out into a clear manifestation of what he has written within your hearts! We cannot tell what we do not know, and we ought not to try to do so; but what is graven in our hearts by the Holy Spirit we are bound to tell to others. This gas was lighted that it might shine; and you received the divine fire that you might shine to the glory of God. It may be that, in some dark hour, it shall afford you at least a little comfort to be able to say, “I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation.” You may be able to use it as an argument in prayer, as the psalmist does: “I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation, therefore,”—

Psalms 40:11. Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord; let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.

Depend upon it, God will take care of us, if we take care of his truth. If we, from cowardly reasons, keep back any part of the gospel, God may leave us to defend ourselves; but if we conceal nothing that he has revealed to us, if we are faithful to the truth committed to our charge, that truth will itself preserve us, and we shall know more and more of the loving-kindness of the Lord.

But what a sad verse is the next one, if it describes the experience of any one of you who have known the Lord!

Psalms 40:12. For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.

If that is the condition of any one whom I am addressing, be comforted by the remembrance that another has been along that dark road where you now are found, and follow his example in praying to the Lord to deliver you. —

Psalms 40:13. Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me: O Lord, make haste to help me.

Thus did David cry unto the Lord “out of the depths.” Imitate his example if you are in similar circumstances. Say, with good John Ryland,— “Out of the depths of doubt and fear,

Depths of despair and grief,

I cry; my voice, O Jesus, hear,

And come to my relief!”

1416. Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil. Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, Aha, Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee:

Here is comfort for all poor trembling seekers; they are only seekers, but let us thank God that they are seekers, and let us say with the psalmist, “Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee.” All true Christians, those who have found Christ, are still seekers; for, after finding Christ, they do their souls inflame to seek him more and more. So that our prayer also is, “Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee.”

Psalms 40:16-17. Let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified. But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.

The Lord bless to us the reading of this precious portion of his Word, for his name’s sake! Amen.

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Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Psalms 40". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.