To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
I. Consider the "new songs" already put into the mouths of Christians. (1) Coming to Christ and conversion to God are materials for a "new song." (2) Few leave the Lord's Table after their first communion without a new song in their mouth of praise to their God. (3) God in springtime renews the face of the earth, and there are corresponding renewings of our spiritual life. (4) A good hope when first given is a new song; and this good hope when renewed, when made more alive and effectual, is a new song.
II. Grand and glorious new songs are in our future. There is the song of victory over death. The first moment after death will put a new song in our mouth, and as certainly—more certainly—our entrance to heaven will do the same.
III. Let the text excite us to go through life with songs. Let us sing that which God gives us to sing. In plain words, let us acknowledge our obligations to "the Father of all mercies" and the God of all consolation; and let us so acknowledge them as to awaken praise to our God. We are all called to be singers, and we are called to sing new songs.
S. Martin, Comfort in Trouble, p. 106.
References: Psalm 40:3.—J. Stalker, The New Song, p. 9. Psalm 40:4.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxx., No. 1784. Psalm 40:5.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 273. Psalm 40:6-8.—E. Irving, Sermons, vol. i., p. 1.
Psalm 40:5-12So then there are two series of things which cannot be numbered—God's mercies and man's sin.
I. If we keep these two things close together in cur contemplations, they suggest for us very forcibly the greatest mystery in the universe, and throw a little light upon it. The difficulty of difficulties, the one insoluble problem, is, Given a good and perfect God, where does sorrow come from? and where is there any pain? Must it not be that the innumerable sum of God's mercies has not to have subtracted from it, but added to it, the sum, which also at intervals appears to us innumerable, of our sorrows and our burdens? "All things work together for good;" and God's innumerable mercies include the whole sum-total of our sorrows.
II. Notice how the blending of these two thoughts together heightens the impression of each. God's mercies never seem so fair, so wonderful, as when they are looked at in conjunction with man's sin. Man's sin never seems so foul and hideous as when it is looked at close against God's mercies.
III. The keeping of these two thoughts together should lead us all to conscious penitence.
IV. Looking at these two numberless series together will bring into the deepest penitence a joyful confidence.
A. Maclaren, Christian Commonwealth, July 16th, 1885.
Psalm 40:7I. When did Christ say these words? To what date does "then" refer? No numbers can reckon up the ages back, and no mind can fathom the depth of that eternity past since Christ's advent-note was first heard, when the "decree" was written in that volume, and that act of our Lord's dedication of Himself for man took place. For ever and for ever He said, "I come." The word translated "I come" literally means "I am come." So that, in the language that is used here, there is the very mystery of the eternal, omnipresent now which makes Godhead. It is always past; it is always present; it is always future. "I come."
II. In the archives of eternity the mystery has stood for ages. "Lo, I come." Our first parents had scarcely fallen before it met them in the sacrifice of the daily altar. It was shadowed in the law of Moses; it was the note of the Angel in the wilderness, the Angel of the Church, the Lord Jesus. John the Baptist heard it in the desert, and the heavenly host sang it on the hills of Bethlehem. Every day and every hour it is heard in every believer's soul; and stretching on now to greater things yet to come, it is the clear trumpet-note of the whole Church's hope, "Lo, I come."
III. The words carry with them another truth: Wherever there is difficulty, wherever there is sin, or sorrow, or need, in proportion as the -difficulty, sin, sorrow, need, become extreme, there Jesus comes. It is not one, but a long series of advents, Jesus coming nearer to us and we, as we are drawn, coming a little nearer to Him, day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment. It is so the work is done, and it is so that the union becomes established between a sinner and Christ, that union which can never be broken for ever and for ever.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 4th series, p. 88.
References: Psalm 40:7.—J. Vaughan, Children's Sermons, 5th series, p. 60; H. Scott Holland, Logic and Life, p. no.
Psalm 40:7-8It is quite evident that the sense which Christ had in His mission to this world before He came was one of pleasure. And unless you are to believe that every anticipation of Christ could be different from its reality, then you must rest in the conclusion that the preponderance of Christ's mission was delight. There are three stages which make a trial, and these three stages rise up to a climax. First, you go through it, but you go through it recoilingly; you go through it very hardly. Next, you sustain it; and, by God's grace, it is quite endurable. And after that you rise quite above it. Is not the last the truest and best offering to God? Now see it in Christ. From the cradle to the grave the grief-pangs were immeasurable. Nevertheless, above and beyond it, there was in its own pure level a joy, and that joy soared on in the immensity of its own unassailable repose, and the meeting of that agony and that joy was the peace, the delight of peace. It is not to the sorrow of Christ alone that we owe everything; but it is also to the spirit, the essential spirit, with which He bore it, the holy rapture of obedience which He exhibited, without which obedience is not obedience in God's sight. Notice: (1) The date of the delight. It was when the whole Mosaic ceremonial was passing away as altogether insufficient. Law was Christ's, for He lived to supply its deficiency and to fulfil its purpose. (2) From the Law the mind of Christ rose to the will. Law is generally negative; will is always positive. Law may be, and is, transient; will is eternal. His Father's will was His work, His delight, His ecstasy. (3) God's will and Christ's will it was that there should be a Church—an ordered, sanctified body which should encircle Him for ever, to reflect His image and to set forth His praise. (4) The far end of Christ was the glory of the Father. If God was honoured, Christ was happy. The thing was wrapped up in His very nature. It had become a necessity.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 6th series, p. 146.
Reference: Psalm 40:8, Psalm 40:9.—J. M. Neale, Sermons on Passages of the Psalms, p. 100.
Psalm 40:8There can be no reasonable doubt whose words these are. Even if the internal evidence were not sufficient, the reference to them in the tenth chapter of Hebrews shows conclusively that they are spoken by Jesus "when He cometh into the world." The words indicate the great rule of Christ's earthly life: what He was continually thinking about and planning to follow, what guided Him through the scenes of this world as truly and as constantly as a ship is guided by her helm. Further, they indicate the delight which it gave Him to follow this rule. There was no sense of pain in doing it; on the contrary, there was in it the pleasure which attends all free, spontaneous activity; nay, there was pleasure rising to delight in its highest elevation. The delight of Jesus in doing the Father's will we see alike in what He did and in what He suffered. In what light did that will present itself to Him, so that, while He obeyed it with such profound submission, He felt in so doing such intense delight?
I. In the first place, He felt that intrinsically its claims were overwhelming. They were such as to admit of no rival and no compromise. To the mind of Jesus the Divine claims were infinitely sacred, august beyond conception, never to be tampered with; all things vile and horrible were concentrated in the spirit that refused absolute submission to the will of God.
II. The Divine will was very dear to Jesus from its connection with the work and the reward of redemption. Mark here the bearing of an unselfish end on an unselfish rule of life. The purpose for which Christ lived and died was unselfish—to bless others with eternal life; and the fondness with which He cherished this unselfish end exalted the unselfish rule. Living in the joy of the coming blessedness of His people, He could serenely and contentedly bow to that will by which their glory was secured.
III. Yet again, there was delight from the very fact that there could be no collision between the Father's will and His own. His human will, in all its deliberate and final actings, was absorbed by God; and this in itself was peace.
W. Blaikie, Glimpses of the Inner Life of our Lord, p. 29.
References: Psalm 45—Preacher's Monthly, vol. v., p. 1; J. G. Murphy, Book of Daniel, p. 44.
Psalm 40:9-10I. The Psalmist speaks here rather of the mind with which the Son of God should come than of the end for which He should come. He speaks of that obedience, which healed our disobedience, as the cause, the life, the soul, of His sacrifice rather than of the sacrifice itself. He exhibits the Atonement in the act of obedience.
II. It is on this very side that He, our Saviour, sets Himself forth as our example. We, too, as many as have been made members of Him, have been sent into the world to accomplish in ourselves and to discharge in the order of His creation a certain will of God; and in the knowledge and accomplishment of that will lies our salvation and the secret of our predestination.
III. This then is the secret of the choice of life: to learn what, among the manifold duties of His great household, God, in the eternal purpose of His love, willed each one of us to discharge. To have discovered this and to have placed ourselves in that path, conforming ourselves therein to the will of God, is to have taken, by God's grace, a decisive step in the way of salvation. For it is to have chosen the will of God and united our own to His; it is to answer the purpose of God for us; it is to be under the guidance of the All-wise, the protection of the Almighty.
E. B. Pusey, Sermons Preached before the University of Oxford, p. 437.
Reference: Psalm 40:9, Psalm 40:10.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii., No. 977.
Psalm 40:10The necessary openness of a holy experience.
I. Notice the evident fact that a true inward experience, or discovery of God in the heart, is itself an impulse also of self-manifestation, as all love and gratitude are. It is in all cases the instinct of a new heart, in its experience of God, to acknowledge Him.
II. The change implied in a true Christian experience, or the revelation of God in the heart, is in its very nature the soul and root of an outward change that is correspondent. The faith implanted is a faith that works in appropriate demonstrations, and must as certainly work as a living heart must beat or pulsate.
III. If any one proposes beforehand, in his religious endeavours or in seeking after God, to come into a secret experience or keep it secret, his endeavour is plainly one that falsifies the very notion of Christian piety; and if he succeeds, or seems to succeed, he only practises a fraud, in which he imposes on himself.
IV. The grace of God in the heart unmanifested or kept secret, as many propose that it shall be, even for their whole life, will be certainly stifled and extinguished.
V. The Gospel everywhere and in every possible way calls out the souls renewed in Christ to live an open life of sacrifice and duty, and so to witness a good confession. "Come and follow Me" is the word of Jesus. "Deny thyself, take up thy cross, and follow Me."
VI. There is no shade of encouragement given to this notion of salvation by secret piety in any of the Scripture examples or teachings. The real disciple is thought of as a man who stands for his Master, and is willing to die for his Master. "Ye are the light of the world," and the light of the world is lighted up to shine.
H. Bushnell, The New Life, p. 361.
References: Psalm 40:16.—T. Rees, Welsh Pulpit of To-day, p. 364. Psalm 40:17.—Warburton, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 133; G. Bainton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ix., p. 369.
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.
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.
Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.
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.
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.
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: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.
Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.
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.
Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me.
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: 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.