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Psalm 40

Thanksgiving for Deliverance and Prayer for Help

To the leader. Of David. A Psalm.


I waited patiently for the L ord;

he inclined to me and heard my cry.


He drew me up from the desolate pit,

out of the miry bog,

and set my feet upon a rock,

making my steps secure.


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 L ord.



Happy are those who make

the L ord their trust,

who do not turn to the proud,

to those who go astray after false gods.


You have multiplied, O L ord my God,

your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;

none can compare with you.

Were I to proclaim and tell of them,

they would be more than can be counted.



Sacrifice and offering you do not desire,

but you have given me an open ear.

Burnt offering and sin offering

you have not required.


Then I said, “Here I am;

in the scroll of the book it is written of me.


I delight to do your will, O my God;

your law is within my heart.”



I have told the glad news of deliverance

in the great congregation;

see, I have not restrained my lips,

as you know, O L ord.


I have not hidden your saving help 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.



Do not, O L ord, withhold

your mercy from me;

let your steadfast love and your faithfulness

keep me safe forever.


For evils have encompassed me

without number;

my iniquities have overtaken me,

until I cannot see;

they are more than the hairs of my head,

and my heart fails me.



Be pleased, O L ord, to deliver me;

O L ord, make haste to help me.


Let all those be put to shame and confusion

who seek to snatch away my life;

let those be turned back and brought to dishonor

who desire my hurt.


Let those be appalled because of their shame

who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”



But may all who seek you

rejoice and be glad in you;

may those who love your salvation

say continually, “Great is the L ord!”


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.

13. Be thou pleased, O Jehovah! to deliver me. The verb which David here makes use of, signifies to desire a thing from pure kindness and good-will. 9696     “רצה, retse, be pleased From רצה, ratsah, he wished well, was pleased, accepted, excluding any merit as a ground for that acceptance.” — Bythners Lyra He desires, therefore, to be delivered by the free mercy of God. As to his desire, that God would make haste, we have elsewhere spoken of it. Even when God delays to help us, it is our duty to contend against a feeling of weariness; but such is his goodness, that he permits us to use this form of prayer, That he would make haste according to our desires. Then, according to his usual practice, citing his enemies to the judgment-seat of God, he feels confident, that, on account of their cruelty, and unjust and wicked hatred, he shall obtain what he asks. We must maintain it as a fixed principle, that the more unjustly our enemies afflict us, and the more cruelly they wrong us, God is so much the more disposed to give us help. And it is no slight consolation that the mercy of God strives against their wickedness, so that the more fiercely our enemies pursue us to effect our hurt, the more ready is he to bring us help. We have already frequently spoken of the feelings with which David uttered these imprecations, and it is necessary here again to refresh our memories on the subject, lest any man, when giving loose reins to his passions, should allege the example of David in palliation or excuse. This wicked and counterfeit imitation on the part of those who follow the powerful impulse of the flesh, instead of being guided by the zeal of the Spirit, is always to be held up to condemnation.

When the Psalmist prays (verse 15) that his enemies may be destroyed for a reward of their shame, the meaning is this: As their sole desire has been to overwhelm me with shame, in order that, while thus dismayed and confounded, they might make me the object of their derision; so let a similar confusion fall upon their own heads. In the second clause of the verse he describes the nature of this confusion by relating the terms of their wicked triumphing, by which they poured contempt upon him while he was so oppressed with misery and affliction. We are here taught that, when our enemies shall have persecuted us to the uttermost, a recompense is also prepared for them; and that God will turn back, and cause to fall upon their own heads, all the evil which they had devised against us; and this doctrine ought to act as a restraint upon us, that we may behave ourselves compassionately and kindly towards our neighbors.

16. Let all those that seek thee be glad and rejoice in thee. David here uses another argument — one which he often adduces elsewhere — in order to obtain deliverance; not that it is necessary to allege reasons to persuade God, but because it is profitable to confirm our faith by such supports. As, then, it is the will of God that he should be known in his gracious character, not only of one or two, but generality of all men, whenever he vouchsafes deliverance to any of his children, it is a common benefit which all the faithful ought to apply to themselves when they see in the person of one man in what manner God, who is never inconsistent with himself, will act towards all his people. David, therefore, shows that he asks nothing for himself individually but what pertains to the whole Church. He prays that God would gladden the hearts of all the saints, or afford them all common cause of rejoicing: so that, assured of his readiness to help them, they may have recourse to him with greater alacrity. Hence we conclude, that, in the case of every individual, God gives a proof of his goodness towards us. What is added, those that love thy salvation, is also worthy of being observed by us. We may infer from this, that our faith is only proved to be genuine when we neither expect nor desire preservation otherwise than from God alone. Those who devise various ways and means of preservation for themselves in this world, despise and reject the salvation which God has taught us to expect from him alone. What had been said before, those who seek thee, is to the same purpose. If any individual would depend wholly upon God, and desire to be saved by his grace, he must renounce every vain hope, and employ all his thoughts towards the reception of his strength. Here, again, we must observe that two things are contrasted with each other. Formerly David had said that the wicked sought his life; now he ascribes to the faithful quite a contrary feeling, namely, that they seek God. In like manner he had related the reproaches and derision of the ungodly, while they said, Aha, aha! and now he introduces the godly speaking very differently, saying, The Lord be magnified!

17. But I am poor and needy. In this concluding clause he mingles prayer with thanksgiving, although it may be that he records a request which he had made when he was placed in extreme danger. The first clause of the verse might be rendered thus: Although I was miserable and poor, God did think upon me. As according to the extent in which any one is afflicted, so is he despised by the world, we imagine that he is disregarded by God, we must, therefore, steadfastly maintain that our miseries in no respect produce on the part of God a feeling of weariness towards us, so that it should become troublesome to him to aid us. In this way, however, let us rather read the clause: When I was miserable and poor, the Lord looked upon my necessity: So that by this circumstance he enhances the grace of God. If God anticipate us with his goodness, and do not wait till adversity presses upon us, then his favor towards us is not so apparent. This comparison, therefore, illustrates very clearly the glory of God in the deliverance of David, inasmuch as he vouchsafed to stretch forth his hand to a man who was despised and rejected of all men, nay, who was destitute of all help and hope. Now, if it was necessary that David should have been reduced to this extremity, it is no wonder if persons in a more private station are often humbled after this manner, that they may feel and acknowledge in good earnest that they have been delivered out of despair by the hand of God. The simple and natural meaning of the prayer is this, Lord, thou art my help and my deliverer, therefore delay not to come to my aid. As it is a foolish thing to approach God with a doubtful and wavering mind, the Psalmist takes courage, as he was wont to do from his own experience, and persuades himself that the help of God, by which he had been hitherto preserved, would not fail him.

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