I. Read Psalm 40.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
4 Blessed is the man who makes
the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
5 You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.
6 In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
you have not required.
7 Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
8 I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”
9 I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O Lord.
10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.
11 As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain
your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will
ever preserve me!
12 For evils have encompassed me
my iniquities have overtaken me,
and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
my heart fails me.
13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
O Lord, make haste to help me!
14 Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether
who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”
16 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
17 As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
do not delay, O my God! (ESV)
Introduction – Psalm 40 is a Psalm attributed to David, but it is known to many in the Western contemporary world due to the fact that U2 performed a version of it on their 1983 album, War. It’s no secret the song was a success. Despite the centuries and cultural differences that separate its original context and ours, there are universal themes that anyone faces in the pilgrimage that is the Christian life. The Psalm provides a wonderfully simple formula for spiritual encouragement and sustenance. First, look back on God’s past faithfulness. “I waited patiently for the Lord, he inclined to me and heard my cry.” “You have multiplied…your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us.” Second, realize that spiritual transformation comes from the inside out. As Jesus says, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matt. 15:19). A heart broken and contrite before God leads to celebrating God’s deeds with our lips and our lives. Looking back on God’s constant faithfulness and grace, delighting in God in our hearts, flowing over into our vocation to be His witnesses, these are sure fire ways to press on with godly confidence to the hope of glory.
In your own words, respond to the questions:
- Make a list of some ways that God has been faithful to you and your community of faith in recent memory.
- Verse 4 says: “Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!” Where has God’s grace covered you even when you have wandered after lies? Are there lies that keep your heart captive right now? Idols that need to be smashed?
- “For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me” (v. 12). These could have been the very words of Jesus in his passion. In what ways does the vicarious suffering of Christ for you make you want to “tell the glad news” in the church and in the world.
- Who do you know that needs the encouragement and glad news concerning the God who inclines and hears His children’s cries, tabernacling with them in the flesh. List two people and pray for them by name, and for guidance as to how to encourage or evangelize them. (Contributed by Scott Jones)
II. Pray Psalm 40. Write out a short prayer expressing your response to this Psalm.
III. Sing Psalm 40. Worship by expressing your soul through music.
- Listen to or download this live version of Psalm 40 (Music in the Outline)
- This version of Psalm 40 is based on an English folk tune.