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Psalm 40:1-3

1. In waiting I waited 7979     “C’est, paciemment.” — Fr. marg. “That is, patiently.” Calvin in the text gives the literal rendering of the Hebrew. In waiting I waited is a Hebraism which signifies vehement desire, and yet entire resignation of mind. “The doubling of the word,” says Ainsworth, “denotes earnestness, constancy, patience.” for Jehovah, and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. 2. And he drew me out of the roaring pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. 3. And he hath put into my mouth a new song, even praise to our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in Jehovah.

 

1. In waiting I waited The beginning of this psalm is an expression of thanksgiving, in which David relates that he had been delivered, not only from danger, but also from present death. Some are of opinion, but without good reason, that it ought to be understood of sickness. It is rather to be supposed that David here comprehends a multitude of dangers from which he had escaped. He had certainly been more than once exposed to the greatest danger, even of death, so that, with good reason, he might be said to have been swallowed up in the gulf of death, and sunk in the miry clay It, nevertheless, appears that his faith had still continued firm, for he ceased not to trust in God, although the long continuance of the calamity had well nigh exhausted his patience. He tells us, not merely that he had waited, but by the repetition of the same expression, he shows that he had been a long time in anxious suspense. In proportion then as his trial was prolonged, the evidence and proof of his faith in enduring the delay with calmness and equanimity of mind was so much the more apparent. The meaning in short is, that although God delayed his help, yet the heart of David did not faint, or grow weary from delay; but that after he had given, as it were, sufficient proof of his patience, he was at length heard. In his example there is set before us this very useful doctrine, that although God may not forthwith appear for our help, but rather of design keep us in suspense and perplexity, yet we must not lose courage, inasmuch as faith is not thoroughly tried, except by long endurance. The result, too, of which he speaks in terms of praise, ought to inspire us with increased fortitude. God may succor us more slowly than we desire, but, when he seems to take no notice of our condition, or, if we might so speak, when he seems to be inactive or to sleep, this is totally different from deceit: for if we are enabled by the invincible strength and power of faith to endure, the fitting season of our deliverance will at length arrive.

2. And he drew me out of the roaring pit. Some translate, from the pit of desolation, 8080     The Septuagint reads, “Εχ λάχχου ταλαιπωρίας.” — “Out of a pit of misery;” and Ainsworth, “the pit of sounding calamity,” or “dungeon of tumultuous desolation, which,” says he, “echoed and resounded with dreadful noises.” “The sufferings of the Psalmist,” observes Bishop Mant, “are here described under the image of a dark subterraneous cavern from which there was no emerging; and where roaring cataracts of water broke in upon him, overwhelming him on every side, till, as it is expressed in the 18th psalm, ‘God sent from above and took him, and drew him out of many waters.’” because the verb שאה, shaah, from which the noun שאום, shaon, is derived, signifies to destroy or to waste, as well as to resound or echo. But it is more appropriate to consider that there is here an allusion to the deep gulfs, where the waters gush with a tumultuous force. 8181     “Un marveilleux bruit.” — Fr. “A marvellous noise.” By this similitude he shows that he was placed in as imminent peril of death as if he had been cast into a deep pit, roaring with the impetuous rage of waters. To the same purpose also is the similitude of the miry clay, by which he intimates that he had been so nearly overwhelmed by the weight of his calamities, that it was no easy matter to extricate him from them. Next, there follows a sudden and incredible change, by which he makes manifest to all the greatness of the grace which had been bestowed upon him. He declares that his feet were set upon a rock, whereas formerly he had been overwhelmed with water; and that his steps were established or upheld, whereas before they were not only unsteady and slippery, but were also stuck fast in the mire.

3. And he hath put into my mouth a new song In the first clause of the verse he concludes the description of what God had done for him. By God’s putting a new song into his mouth he denotes the consummation of his deliverance. In whatever way God is pleased to succor us, he asks nothing else from us in return but that we should be thankful for and remember it. As often, therefore, as he bestows benefits upon us, so often does he open our mouths to praise his name. Since God, by acting liberally towards us, encourages us to sing his praises, David with good reason reckons, that having been so wonderfully delivered, the matter of a new song had been furnished to him. He uses the word new in the sense of exquisite and not ordinary, even as the manner of his deliverance was singular and worthy of everlasting remembrance. It is true, that there is no benefit of God so small that it ought not to call forth our highest praises; but the more mightily he stretches forth his hand to help us, the more does it become us to stir up ourselves to fervent zeal in this holy exercise, so that our songs may correspond to the greatness of the favor which has been conferred upon us.

Many shall see it Here the Psalmist extends still farther the fruit of the aid which he had experienced, telling us, that it will prove the means of instruction common to all. And certainly it is the will of God that the benefits which he bestows upon any individual of the faithful should be proofs of the goodness which he constantly exercises towards all of them, so that the one, instructed by the example of the other, should not doubt that the same grace will be manifested towards himself. The terms fear, and hope, or trust, do not seem at first view to harmonise; but David has not improperly joined them together; for no man will ever entertain the hope of the favor of God but he whose mind is first imbued with the fear of God. I understand fear in general to mean the feeling of piety which is produced in us by the knowledge of the power, equity, and mercy of God. The judgment which God executed against the enemies of David served, it is true, to inspire all men with fear; but, in my opinion, David rather means, that by the deliverance which he had obtained, many would be induced to yield themselves to the service of God, and to submit with all reverence to his authority, because they would know him to be the Judge of the world. Now, whoever submits cordially to the will of God will of necessity join hope with fear; especially when there is presented to his view the evidence of the grace by which God commonly allures all men to himself; for I have already said that God is presented to our view as merciful and kind to others, that we may assure ourselves that he will be the same towards us. As to the word see, of which David makes use, we are to understand it as referring not only to the eyes, but chiefly to the perception of the mind. All without distinction saw what had happened, but to many of them it never occurred to recognize the deliverance of David as the work of God. Since, then, so many are blind regarding the works of God, let us learn, that those only are considered to see clearly to whom the Spirit of understanding has been given, that they may not occupy their minds in dwelling upon the mere events which take place, but may discern in them by faith the secret hand of God.


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