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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Psalms 40

 

 

Verses 1-17

Psalm 40

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David

1 I waited patiently for the Lord;

And he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.

2 He brought me up also out of a horrible pit,

Out of the miry clay,

And set my feet upon a rock,

And established my goings.

3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth,

Even praise unto our God:

Many shall see it, and fear,

And shall trust in the Lord.

4 Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust,

And respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.

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.

6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire;

Mine ears hast thou opened:

Burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.

7 Then said I, Lo, I come:

In the volume of the book it is written of me,

8 I delight to do thy will, O my God:

Yea, thy law is within my heart.

9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation:

Lo, I have not refrained my lips,

O Lord, thou knowest.

10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart;

I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation;

I have not concealed thy loving kindness and thy truth from the great congregation.

11 Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord:

Let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.

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 mine heart faileth me.

13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me:

O Lord, make haste to help me.

14 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.

15 Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame

That say unto me, Aha, aha.

16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee:

Let such as love thy salvation

Say continually, The Lord be magnified.

17 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.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Its Contents and Composition. The Psalmist narrates ( Psalm 40:1), how God has graciously accepted his trust and cry for help ( Psalm 40:2), delivered him from a great danger and given him a new song ( Psalm 40:3), all for the strengthening of the faith of many. He pronounces those blessed who trust in God ( Psalm 40:4), and this forms the transition to the mention ( Psalm 40:5) of the innumerable and unspeakable exhibitions of grace which have been made to the believing, for which God would be thanked, not by external ritual offerings ( Psalm 40:6), but by willing obedience to the Divine will expressed in the written law ( Psalm 40:7-8). This the Psalmist, as God knows, has declared as a glad tidings, in the great congregation ( Psalm 40:9-10). In accordance with this he now prays ( Psalm 40:11) for the continuance of the Divine protection; for innumerable evils, the consequences of his transgressions, have surrounded him ( Psalm 40:12); and therefore he prays importunately ( Psalm 40:13), that God will hasten to his help, and bring his enemies to shame ( Psalm 40:14), as a punishment for their scorn which they have delighted to heap upon him ( Psalm 40:15). Those who seek God and love Him, are to rejoice and praise God ( Psalm 40:16), for though the Psalmist is at present poor and miserable, yet he trusts in God’s assistance firmly and prays to Him urgently ( Psalm 40:17). It follows from this analysis, that the assertion, that the Psalm is divided into two parts differing from one another in contents and tone, and in part inconsistent with one another, the one part thanksgiving the other prayer, does not accord with the circumstances of the case. It is true the Song of Solomon -called second part ( Psalm 40:12-17) is found with few alterations in an independent form, as Psalm 70 But this does not prove that two songs originally different have here been subsequently united (Pareau instit, interpr. 330), or that the unity can be maintained only by the supposition that the poet speaks in the name of the people of Israel (Isaki, Rosenm. II.), or the pious members of the people (De Wette). Still less can it be shown, that Psalm 70. was the original, and that it is here imitated and attached as a prayer to a Psalm of thanksgiving (Hupfeld). There are rather in Psalm 70 many signs of its being a fragment. This portion of Psalm 40. moreover, might very easily and properly, owing to its character, have been separated for the special use of the congregation, although hardly by the author himself. The difference of tone in the various groups of this Psalm is sufficiently explained from the difference between narrative, thanksgiving and prayer. Hence arise the unevenness of the strophes and the verses, and dissimilarity in the length of the lines. These characteristics are not disclosed in any particular part, but pervade the whole Psalm. It is difficult to decide respecting the author. It is not necessary that we should be referred to the time of the recovery of the book of the law (Ewald); for it is particularly in the Psalm of David in the time of the persecution by Saul, that many references to the law are found; besides, there are resemblances with Psalm 22:25; Psalm 25:21; Psalm 35:18; Psalm 35:21; Psalm 35:25. But the most striking similarities are with Psalm 69, and in that Psalm there is so much in favor of its composition by Jeremiah (Hitzig), that even Delitzsch wavers in his judgment. Since both Psalm at any rate, have the same author, and Ps. lxix. contains many important evidences, the decision is to be drawn from a consideration of that Psalm. Here however, we may anticipate the result with the statement that there are weighty reasons in favor of David as the author, only not in the time of his flight before Absalom (Rudinger, Venema, Muntinghe). Hence we hold fast to it, since no decisive reasons have thus far been adduced against it.—The words of Psalm 40:6-8, are put in the mouth of Christ by the author of the epistle to the Hebrews 10:5-7. Most of the earlier interpreters have, therefore, supposed, that Christ here speaks by the mouth of David prophetically of his bringing the offering of his life in his state of humiliation, and therefore they have treated the Psalm either partly or entirely as directly Messianic, so recently Böhl. Hengstenberg has very properly given up this view, which he advocated in the first edition of his Christology. Even the typical interpretation can be maintained only in the freer sense (Calvin, Ruding, Grotius, Cler, et al.) and not in the stricter sense (Stier). The epistle to the Hebrews, really makes a free use of the words in question and one deviating in many respects from the original text (Vid. Moll’s Epist. to the Hebrews 10:5-7, in Lange’s Commentary). Yet this is on the basis of the recognized typical relation of the Old Covenant to the New Covenant and particularly of the person and history of David. “The words of David, the anointed, yet only after he was on the way to the throne, are so formed by the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of prophecy, that they at the same time sound as the words of another David passing through sufferings to glory, whose offering of himself is the end of the animal offerings and whose person and work are the kernel and star of the roll of the law.” (Delitzsch).

Str. I. Psalm 40:1. Waiting I waited.—The Hebrew infin. abs. does not so much strengthen the verbal idea, with which view the firmness, patience, endurance and power of the trust would be expressed (Calvin, Geier, J. H. Mich, Delitzsch, et al.), but rather emphasizes it, whether with a parenetic view (Hengst.), or as an antecedent and in contrast to the consequences mentioned in the second member (Hupfeld).—He inclined unto me.—It is doubtful whether נטה (incline, bow), without an object, is here to be regarded as intransitive (Aben Ezra, J. H. Mich, De Wette, Hengst, Hitzig), the passages cited in favor of this, Genesis 38:16; Judges 16:30, not being entirely parallel, or whether we are to supply “ears” (Hupfeld, Delitzsch), since this combination frequently occurs, yet only with the Hiphil.

Psalm 40:2. Pit of destruction—dirt of the mire—rock—made my footsteps firm.—Hitzig derives from the mention of pit, his explanation of the Psalm from the history of Jeremiah, but since even he does not take the rock, which is the usual figure of security ( Psalm 18:2; Psalm 27:5), in a literal sense, his grounds are weak; and the pit with its mire, in which the foot slides and can gain no firm foothold is figurative of danger, as the waters elsewhere ( Psalm 18:15 and frequently). But it does not follow from this or the circumstance that שׂאון is likewise used of the rushing and roaring of water ( Psalm 65:7; Jeremiah 17:12 sq.), that we must think here of a rushing depth of water (Hengst.) or a roaring pit (Kimchi, Calvin, Venema, Rosenm.) = pit of roaring water. The meaning: destruction=ruin, is assured from Jeremiah 25:31; Jeremiah 46:17; Psalm 35:8.

[A new song.—Perowne: “One celebrating with all the power of a recent gratitude a new and signal act of deliverance.” Vid. Psalm 33:3.—C. A. B.].—The same alliteration which is found here [יִרְאוּ־וְיִירָאוּ], occurs likewise in Psalm 52:6, where it is followed by a clause like Psalm 40:4.

Str. II. Psalm 40:4. His trust—Related with this clause are Psalm 34:8; Psalm 52:6; Psalm 65:5; Psalm 71:5; Psalm 91:9; Job 31:24; Isaiah 20:5; Jeremiah 17:7; so much more are the latter passages to be regarded as Revelation -echoes of this the original passage.—Blusterers and lying apostates—Most interpreters since Aben Ezra and Kimchi take רְהָבים as a plural of an adjective which is not found elsewhere; others after the Sept, Syriac, Jerome, as the plural instead of the usual singular דהם=raging, daring, violent, particularly as a surname of Egypt, with the idea of an external, noisy, boastful bragging of their own power, whereby they mislead others to put their trust in them, which was then shamefully deceived (Hupf.). The שָׂטֵי כָזָב are not those “who incline themselves=turn to lies,” whether we think of real lies (Stier) or idols and magic (Isaki, Kimchi, Hengst.). The verb שׂטה=שׂוט expresses a stronger idea than that of inclining oneself and is not an intransitive. We must, therefore, translate: apostates of lies=lying, faithless apostates (Hupfeld, Delitzsch). A similar form of expression is found in Psalm 59 Hitzig, through the Arabic, refers to those who “shriek lies,” which is more natural than to make the reading שָמֵד and think of the tongue as a whip ( Job 5:21; Sirach 26:6), because, likewise flexible; because it gossips and because it can likewise smite a person. ( Jeremiah 18:18).

Str. III. Psalm 40:5. There is no comparison with Thee, (else) would I declare and speak.—Comp. Psalm 89:8; Isaiah 40:18; Job 28:17; Job 28:19. Thus most recent interpreters after Sept, Isaki, Luther. The translation: there is no reckoning of them before thee (Symmach, Chald, Jerome, Kimchi, Calvin, Ruding, Piscator, Geier, Cleric, Rosenm, Stier, Hupf, [A. V.])=they are “unspeakable, innumerable,” is especially opposed by the circumstance that such a reckoning is not usual before God, but before men. It is better to take the following words, in accordance with the accents, either as a parenthesis as Psalm 51:16; Psalm 55:12, or as a hypothetical consequent to the immediately preceding statement. If we should neglect the accents, it might be an expression of a hypothetical antecedent to the assurance of the impossibility of numbering expressed in the following line (Symmach, Jerome, Isaki, Kimchi, Calvin, Geier). It is inadmissible to take it as a real future (Stier, Hengst,); for then the statement would be of a real resolution in opposition to the preceding as well as the following statement.

Str. IV. Psalm 40:6. Ears hast Thou dug for me, that is created for me instruments for hearing. It is accordingly the business of man to use them in accordance with the Divine will. This may be partly by observing God’s word, partly by following God’s commands=obedience to the will of God expressed in His word. Both references often lead to one another, and the latter is certainly brought about by the former ( Deuteronomy 29:3; Isaiah 6:9 sq.; Jeremiah 7:24). That the position of the clause, if it is taken as a parenthesis, would make a change here and emphasize the ears as the organ of a theoretical knowledge (Hupf.), is so much the less to be conceded, as, according to Hupfeld’s own view, parentheses occur frequently in this Psalm. Still less is the reference to the boring through or boring out the ears, parallel with the usual formula; open the ear ( Isaiah 48:8; Isaiah 1:5), and uncover the ear ( 1 Samuel 9:16; 1 Samuel 20:2; 1 Samuel 20:12 sq.; 1 Samuel 22:8; 1 Samuel 22:17; Job 33:16; Job 36:10; Job 36:15), or; open the eyes ( Genesis 3:7; Genesis 21:9), and uncover the eyes ( Numbers 22:31; Numbers 24:4; Numbers 16; Psalm 119:18), of the impartation or of the impression of knowledge by Divine revelation (Isaki, Calvin, Geier, Venema, Rosenm, De Wette, Stier). For, although the Hebrew verb with the meaning of “dig, bore” may under some circumstances pass

over into that of perfodere ( Psalm 22:16), yet we would be obliged to expect, in accordance with the parallels adduced, the singular instead of the plural, “ears.” But now, furthermore, the clause is not really parenthetical, but rather the three verbs are entirely parallel in the three lines, and the passage sounds very much like the Revelation -echo of the words of Samuel, 1 Samuel 15:22. This is partly in favor of its composition by David, partly in favor of a reference to obedience (Geier, Hengst, Von Hofm, Delitzsch). The expression, however, is not a symbolical designation of the obedience of the servant, whose ear was nailed to the door posts of the Lord, by which he obligated himself to remain forever, Exodus 21:6; Deuteronomy 15:17, (after Geier et al. Hengst. previously, Stier, in part, now Böhl); for there was a special technical expression for this, and moreover only one ear was thus treated (J. D. Mich, Rosenm.). The ancient interpreters explained the plural arbitrarily by reference to the double obedience of Christ, his active and passive obedience, but Song of Solomon, that the congregation, for whom he offered himself, was composed of two parts, Jews and Gentiles. Böhl grants herein a free use of the symbol in question, and appeals moreover to Hosea 3:2, for this meaning of בָרָה = make oneself a bond slave by means of boring (after Hengst. Christology, 2Edit. i219), whilst he at the same time disputes the fixedness of a term, techn. Yet he wavers as much in this, as in the explanation of the symbol itself. For if boring, which occurs as a symbol of obedience likewise among the Mesopotamians, Arabs, Lydians, and Carthagenians, means nothing more than that the man who has been bored has open, hearing ears, and thus is to be attentive and obedient (Knobel upon Exodus 21:6), it cannot be, at the same time, regarded as a symbol of continued, everlasting servitude (Saalchütz, das mos. Recht, S. 699). At any rate the emphasis in the context of the present passage is not upon the latter but the former point, and therefore the reference to that symbol must be abandoned. The expression originates from the form of the bodily ear. This view renders the use of this passage in Hebrews 10:5 much easier to understand, in accordance with the enlarged and explanatory translation of the Sept, unless perhaps it is an ancient mistake in copying. The Vulgate has aures, the Itala as likewise the Psalter. Roman, however, corpus.Burnt offering and sin offering.—The so called spiritual interpretation of the offerings is found not first in Jeremiah 7:21; (comp. Jeremiah 6:20); or Isaiah 66:3; but already in Isaiah 1:11; and besides Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21 sq.; Micah 6:6 sq.; Proverbs 15:8; Proverbs 21:3; likewise Psalm 50:8; Psalm 51:17. 1 Samuel 15:22, may however be regarded as the original passage in accordance with the idea, which was already expressed in the difference between the offerings of Cain and Abel, and which pervades the entire Mosaic legislation. So much the less are we to think here of a revelation of a new truth, but of an observation of the revealed will of God, which requires not an offering divorced from the heart, but obedience and consecration of the entire person, of which the offerings are the figurative expression. “The offerings are named in a twofold respect: a, according to their material, זֵבַח animal offering and מִנְחָה meal offering (including the נֶסֶךְ wine offering, which is the inseparable accompaniment of the Mincha); b, according to their purpose, either as essentially עוִלָה in order to procure Divine favor, or as essentially חַטָּאת (here חֲטָאָה), in order to turn away the Divine displeasure. That זֵבַח and עוֹלַה precede is due to the fact that זֶבַח denotes partially the shelamim offering, and the thank-offering proper, namely, the Daniel -shelamim offering belongs to this class, and that עוֹלָה as the offering of worship, προσευχή, which is ever likewise general thanksgiving, ἐυχαριστία, is in natural connection with the shelamim to the thankful.” (Delitzsch).

Psalm 40:7. Lo, I am come = here I Amos, as an expression of the obedient servant ready for the service of his Lord, and standing in this willingness before the Lord, ( Numbers 22:38; 1 Samuel 3:4; 1 Samuel 3:8; 2 Samuel 19:21; Isaiah 6:8; Matthew 8:9). It is not necessary to supply: before Thy face (Hupfeld). The translation: I have consented, namely, to the requirement, Psalm 40:6 (Böttcher), is unsuitable.—With the roll of the book, written concerning me.—These words would have to be taken as a parenthesis, if the purpose of the coming were stated. But since this is not stated expressly, this supposition loses its support, so likewise the pretension to erase this line (Olsh.) It is admissible, however, to take Psalm 40:7 b as an independent clause = in the roll of the book it is prescribed to me (Hengst, Hupfeld, in a different combination from Rosenm. and Gesenius, from Umbreit and Maurer). It is particularly in connection with the recovery of the Pentateuch ( 2 Kings 22:13) that the construction of כּתב with על occurs in this signification. But really this Song of Solomon -called meaning is only a paraphrase, used in order to simplify it to the understanding. Taken literally, even there the persons are adduced with על, respecting whom it is written, namely, the word of God, obligating them, and binding upon them; they are the ones to whom that which is written refers, Job 13:26. The ancient translation περὶ ἐμοῦ, upon which Hebrews 10:7 is based, is accordingly altogether unobjectionable. This clause may now be connected likewise in language with the preceding clause, so that the preposition ב expresses the accompaniment, as Psalm 66:15 (Umbreit, Ewald, Maurer, et al.) But the book roll with which the Psalmist comes is not the roll of the written leaf, which Jeremiah carried with him (עַלָי = with me) and upon which he had written the prophecy of future redemption, in order to read it to the people, as he himself had “eaten” its contents, Jeremiah 15:16 (Hitzig), but the roll of the law written on skins, Jeremiah 36:2; Jeremiah 36:4; Ezekiel 2:9 (Hupf.), particularly the law respecting the king, Deuteronomy 17:14 sq. (Von Hofm, Delitzsch), which the king of Israel was to keep constantly with him. This view explains the transfer of these words about David, who was already anointed king of Israel, but had not yet come into possession of the throne, to Christ, Hebrews 10, as one, for whom it is not necessary to suppose that the idea of the book-roll should be transferred unhistorically to the entire Old Testament and its prophecies. The following explanations: written upon me (Sachs), which means, that the poet is himself the narrative of the wonders of God which have happened to him; or written in me, that Isaiah, in my heart (De Wette), are inadmissible. It is first said in Psalm 40:8 that David carried the law not only with him, but in himself. For this is a characteristic of the righteous ( Psalm 37:31, after Deuteronomy 6:6; comp. Proverbs 3:3; Proverbs 7:3). But this Divine purpose is not fulfilled in the entire people ( Isaiah 51:7) until the time of the Messiah ( Jeremiah 31:33). Hengstenberg (Beiträge II:489 sq.) has proved that the mention of the roll of the law as written upon skins does not lead to a later period of composition. Still less is it necessary to think of a Prayer of Manasseh, who, after the discovery of the law by Hezekiah, went with the roll into the temple (Ewald).

Str. V. Psalm 40:9-10. I proclaimed,etc.—The perfects, Psalm 40:9-10, do not express continued action (De Wette), but past, yet they refer not to the contents of the new revelation written upon the leaf (Hitzig), but narrate parallel with Psalm 40:7, that the Psalmist not only took his position as an obedient servant of Jehovah, and as a personal thank-offering at the disposal of God, but that he has expressed his thanks by proclaiming the praise of Jehovah in the congregation (comp. Psalm 50:24 sq.) This proclamation is designated by the verb בִשֵּר as glad tidings. [Perowne: “Words are heaped upon words to express the eager forwardness of a heart burning to show forth its gratitude. No elaborate description could so well have given us the likeness of one whose ‘life was a thanksgiving.’ ”—C. A. B.]

Str. VI. Psalm 40:11. Thou, Jehovah, wilt not shut up Thy mercies,etc.—This verse refers to Psalm 40:9 in the use of shut up, and to Psalm 40:10 in the use of “grace and truth.” But it does not follow from this, that the Song of Solomon -called first part concludes with Psalm 40:11 (Hupfeld); this is opposed by the connection with Psalm 40:12 by means of “for,” which it is entirely arbitrary to regard as merely an external and loose connection. But rather the importunity of the prayer for deliverance from present and recent trouble, rising on the basis of thanksgiving for previous deliverances, and basing itself on the assurance of Divine recompense, is grounded on the fact that the transgressions of the Psalmist, which followed him in vengeance, as the wrath of God ( Psalm 69:25), and the curse ( Deuteronomy 28:15), have overtaken him, and that there is accordingly no other help than through Jehovah. In the Messianic interpretation these transgressions are explained of those voluntarily taken upon himself by the suffering Messiah, and for the most part made parallel with innumerable evils as the punishment of sins. Both of these ideas are against the text which says that the transgressions of the Psalmist are his own, who feels that he has been seized upon by the innumerable evils which surround him and he has no prospect. This general explanation of the clause, I cannot see, corresponds closely as well with the context as with the wording of the clause. The explanation: I cannot see over them on account of their innumerableness (Hitzig, Hupfeld), corresponds with the former; the interpretation of it from weakened sight, owing to great woe (Luther, Hengst.), corresponds with the latter. This physical inability ( 1 Samuel 3:2; 1 Samuel 4:14; 1 Kings 14:4; Job 16:16; Psalm 13:3; Psalm 38:10), may be a sign that a man’s strength ( Psalm 38:10), or his heart ( Psalm 40:13) = courage, composure, joyfulness, have forsaken him, yet however is not to be placed alongside of the latter, and to be explained of the obscuration of consciousness = inconsiderateness (Chald, Stier, Ewald). Least of all are we to think of invisible approach, whereby they overtake him unexpectedly (Hupf. alternately).

Str. VII. Psalm 40:13-15. Be pleased.—Although רעה in this meaning and in construction with a following ל and an infinitive, occurs only here (for in the parallel passage in Psalm 70 this word is missing), yet it is indisputable, and refers to Psalm 40:8, where the will of God is designated by the noun of the same root. This again is in favor of the connection of both parts of this Psalm and of its antiquity. The cry for help is like Psalm 22:19; Psalm 38:22; the wish against his deadly enemies, like Psalm 35:4; Psalm 35:26; the description of their behaviour, like Psalm 35:21; Psalm 35:25, only that “speak” is followed by “of me,” (properly: with reference to me), which again is missing in Psalm 70, where likewise the usual יָשׁוּבוּ (let them retire) is used instead of יָשֹׁמּוּ (let them become Numbers, paralyzed with fright). The reason and ground of their numbness is stated in the following verse with על, that shame is their reward (Hitzig, Delitzsch), which is not like the accusative (Hupfeld), which would merely say: on account of their shame (De Wette, Hengstenberg). [For the expression Aha, aha, vid. Psalm 35:21; Psalm 35:25.—C. A. B.]

Str. VIII. Psalm 40:17. The Lord will care for me.—It is not necessary to adopt the reading חוּשׁה־לּי from Psalm 70:6; 141:1, instead of יַחֲשָׁב־לי, as being the only reading consistent with usage (Venema, Ewald, Hupfeld), and to translate accordingly: Lord, haste to me. The word חשׁב has indeed very different meanings, and here an unusual construction; yet the reference at once to the thoughts of God, Psalm 40:5, mentioned by a noun of the same root, which favors the unity of the Psalm, does not leave it doubtful that the reference is neither to regard = value (Rabbins), nor to imputation, namely, of sins (Cocc, Gesen.), but to the thoughts of God in His providential care over those who turn to Him in prayer (the ancient translators and most interpreters).

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Sometimes a deliverance from great danger, gives us the first knowledge of how many enemies and how great dangers there are surrounding us here below. But this knowledge should not weaken our thankfulness; and although the song of thanksgiving to the praise of God must be followed immediately by a new petition, the ardor of prayer is the more impressive, and the confidence of being heard is more assured and joyous, the more vital and fresh the experience of the gracious turning of God to the necessity and prayer of him who waits in faith for the help of the Lord.

2. A man who has been delivered by the help of God, is stimulated to a new song by the new experience of grace; but when he on his part is personally confirmed anew in the old covenant of grace, he does not thus acquire any exclusive relation to God with peculiar rights and privileges. He is and remains a member of the congregation, in which God from of old has glorified Himself by innumerable tokens of His favor. Therefore all the people are to be benefited by that which happens to the individual, and they are to let their new song resound to the God of all in united praise, and to the general edification. These benefits are better fitted for this, the more they bear and maintain the character of a gift of God.

3. The thanksgiving which is well-pleasing to God is not in the legal fulfilment of the external offerings and similar performances, rites, and ceremonies, but in obedience to the will of God by the whole person and life. This obedience is declared in particular actions and performances, is represented and illustrated by offerings, symbolized by rites and ceremonies; but all these expressions, representations, and symbols, cannot compensate for the absence of obedience. This symbolical and representative character of all the offerings of the Old Covenant is evidently declared in the roll of the law, which contains the directions for the actions of the people of God. There is no inconsistency therefore in the fact that it is said respecting the offerings expressly ordained by Divine command, that God has not required or desired them. There is no value ascribed to them in the Mosaic law independent of obedience. God’s requirement is directed rather immediately and unconditionally to entire obedience to the Divine will. It is not necessary therefore to suppose a new revelation for the explanation of the thoughts expressed in the text. The will of God has been revealed in the words of God, and God has given men ears to understand them. Whatever is missing is concretely expressed by the inclination and ability of unconditional obedience to completely fulfil the law: in the perfect servant of Jehovah, righteous in disposition and ability to justify many ( Isaiah 53:11). When, now, David, under definite historical circumstances, and with special reference to his royal calling, expresses his joy in the fulfilment of the Divine will, and his readiness to commit his person to the disposal of God, he not only says that obedience is the true offering, and that it has to do with the entire person, but he thus enters historically into the typically prophetical relation to Christ, in which, by the Spirit, his words acquire a meaning which allows, yes, calls forth, a deeper and more comprehensive interpretation within the Old Covenant.

4. The fulfilment of the Divine law is rendered subjectively possible to Prayer of Manasseh, and accomplished, by his taking it up into his soul, and agreeing with his heart to this law which comes to him at first from without and by the ear. Thus the externality and the strangeness of the law are destroyed. Prayer of Manasseh, then, desires what God desires. He offers his own will in the obedience of faith. But this offering is fulfilled only on the basis of a deliverance which has taken place. The offering has thus essentially the meaning of a thank-offering, and it is not at all propitiatory or justifying, although well-pleasing to God. This relation is expressed likewise in the typical reference of the Psalm.

5. He who is in this relation and has a vital experience of the power and truth of it in his own person, should testify of it by word and deed and help others to hear of it ( Romans 10:17), and should particularly proclaim the glad tidings of the righteousness, grace and truth of God, in the congregation. This may likewise be regarded as an offering, and indeed of thanks, yet not merely in the sense of the presentation of words, but, at the same time, with the more particular meaning of sacrifice and personal consecration, which cannot be fulfilled without self-conquest. For, in addition to the natural slothfulness, forgetfulness, unthankfulness, fearfulness, we are to regard not only quietistic inclinations, the disposition to contemplation, the luxury of feeling, but likewise a kind of timidity, dread and shyness of appearing in public, which occur even in men who are spiritually inclined and are decided servants of God. But he who overcomes in this conflict, and ventures to appeal to the testimony of God respecting his readiness to take part in this work, can rely with comforted spirit upon the fact that God will confess those who make Him known before men ( Matthew 10:32).

6. A true and courageous confessor may, accordingly, rely upon being recognized by God; but the ground on which he bases his confidence is not his personal worth or the deserts of his actions, but the mercy and faithfulness of God. He has the more reason to hold fast to this, as Hebrews, with all his piety and devotion to God, and in the calling given him by God, is still not the perfectly righteous one, the sinless servant of God, but rather, in the innumerable sufferings which surround him, he recognizes the deserved punishments of his innumerable transgressions, and, in consequence of this, feels that every natural source of comfort, courage and strength in himself is sealed up. All things depend upon the help of the Lord. He recognizes more thoroughly the indispensableness of this, and experiences the more deeply its urgency, the stronger his feeling of his own misery and entire helplessness, under the painful impressions of the arrogance of his enemies, who are intoxicated with victory. But the deeper the faith in the special providence of God for the individual, is impressed upon the heart of the sufferer, and the firmer the soul is established in confidence in the final victory and the everlasting triumph of the congregation over all its enemies, through the power of God and to the praise of God, and the more this confidence is applied to the personal relation of the oppressed servant of God, the more urgent and sure of being heard is the prayer for the speedy coming of the Lord.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

God not only sends sufferings; but He likewise sends help; He works likewise thankfulness.Hymns and songs belong to the gifts of God: by these we express our thanks, proclaim God’s glory, edify the congregation.—Our life may be a long history of sufferings and yet constitute an edifying sermon respecting God’s righteousness, grace and truth.—That which comes from the Lord should lead to the Lord.—The kindnesses of God are just as numerous as our sufferings and our transgressions.—We should take to heart what God has done to us and to our people, but not shut it up in our hearts, but let our thanks sound forth not only in words, even though they be expressed in new songs and hymns, but likewise in acts well pleasing to God.—What God does to us. is not an exception, but a confirmation of His special as well as general Providence.—The new songs of the pious contain only the old confession of the congregation of God.—The best thank-offering is the consecration of the entire person to the service of God in the obedience of faith.—God desires energetical thanks for actual help.—By one and the same act God accomplishes our deliverance, the shame of the enemy, the edification of the congregation.—God’s words are not only to come to our ears, but to enter our hearts.—God has given us ears to hear His word; a mouth to confess it; a heart to love it; whence comes the strength to keep it, but from Him? and who is the righteous one, whom he sends to fulfil it?—God shows Himself to be the faithful God to those who trust in Him, confesses those who confess Him; will He neglect you, when you do not neglect Him?—If we would gain God’s help, we must seek God Himself.Consecration and confession should agree with one another, but both be in accordance with God’s word.—He who cannot wait for the help of God, will never gain it; but he must pray for it and may urge his circumstances in prayer.

Starke: The cross conveys many advantages in itself; for it urges the sufferer to pray, his prayer is heard, he rejoices, praises God, seeks to excite others to praise Him.—Take care that the new Song of Solomon, the gospel, be not sung and preached for your mere amusement, but that it produce in you true fear of God; else it were better that you should never have heard it.—You must not doubt of your sonship and the love of God on account of the postponement of help. He only tries your patience. Christ was a servant in obedience, yet a child of His Father in hearty readiness to do His will. Learn from Him to properly unite both together.—When the word of God comes unto a man in its true power, it cannot long remain concealed, the change of heart soon expresses itself in words and works.—God never lacks the power to help; we need only pray that He will show this power in accordance with His gracious will.

Selnekker: Even the law cannot be understood apart from Christ, for no one knows, what it requires and how to fulfil it.—Dauderstadt: We must draw near to God with humility. David calls himself not a king and prophet, but a poor miserable sinner.—Frisch: See to it, dear soul, that the new song is not sung to thee in vain.—The dear gospel does nothing but good to men and yet it has its enemies.—It is impossible that we should endure the cross and live under it without the consolation of God.—A. Bengel: I come! or I am here! was the symbolum of the Lord Jesus ( Matthew 5:17; Matthew 10:34; Matthew 15:24; Matthew 18:11; Mark 1:38; Luke 5:32; Luke 9:50; Luke 12:49; Luke 19:10; John 6:38 sq.; John 9:39; John 10:10; John 12:46; John 18:37). O Soul, let thy Saviour accomplish His design in thee.—Say: Why art thou in the world? Dost thou fulfil the will of God? How long since? How?—Umbreit: The mind of the converted is shown in deep humility and strong confidence.—The will of God is recorded in the roll of the book, but it is the desire of the pious to do it.—Without sincere confession of one’s own misery and internal poverty there is no faith in Divine Providence.—Tholuck: Thanksgiving should be an Acts, but he who strongly feels it, his words may be a hindrance to him.—Taube: The greatest and truest skill of the Christian is to be able to wait; to learn to wait is the exercise of his entire life.—Poverty and misery, these are our names; yet this dust nature is in God’s gracious thoughts.—There are typical heroes of faith and those who have followed Christ; the Lord Himself is in the midst with His heroic sufferings and sustains both classes with the strength and grace of His all sufficient blessings of redemption.—Deichert: The offerings of a reasonable service well pleasing to God; 1) The incense of prayer before God; 2) the burnt-offering of an entire consecration of the heart to God; 3) the meat-offering of the life and its works in the service of God.

[Matth. Henry: There is power enough in God to help the weakest, and grace enough in God to help the unworthiest of all His people that trust in Him.—There is an order in all God’s works, but they are so many that present themselves to our view at once, that we know not where to begin nor which to name next; the order of them, and their natural references and dependences, and how the links of the golden chain are joined is a mystery to us and what we shall not be able to account for till the veil be rent and the mystery of God finished.—The sight of our sins in their own colors would drive us to distraction if we had not at the same time some sight of a Saviour.—Barnes: All sorrow can be borne when we feel that God has not forgotten us; we may be calm when all the world forsakes us, if we can feel assured that the great and blessed God “thinks” on us, and will never cease to remember us.—Spurgeon: Note the way of salvation, a sight, a fear, a trust! Do you know what these mean by possessing and practising them in your own soul?—God’s thoughts of you are many, let not yours be few in return.—No maze to lose oneself in like the labyrinth of love. How sweet to be outdone, overcome and overwhelmed by the astonishing grace of the Lord our God.—Our Lord’s life was a sermon eloquent beyond compare, and it is heard each day by myriads.—Lord Jesus, grant in all our adversities we may possess like precious faith, and be found like thee, more than conquerors.—C. A. B.].

 


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 40:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/psalms-40.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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