There are many psalms which begin in a sigh and end with a song, showing us that even in the act of waiting before God, and of waiting on God, the darkness often passes away. We find our burden rolling off in the very act and energy of prayer. In this psalm, however, matters are reversed; and immediately following on a song of triumph and a vow of surrender, there is a piteous wail. This dissimilarity, nay, almost discordance, has led to a very general opinion that what here seems to be the latter part of this psalm is actually another psalm, which has somehow or other come to be attached to this one. The probability of this is confirmed by the fact that Psalm 70
. is the same as the close of Psalm 40
. But, of course, at this distance of time, data which would fully explain that cannot be expected to be available. Still, it is a great comfort to be permitted to think of this paragraph as being penned at a different time and under different circumstances from those which called forth the preceding ten verses. It would be discouraging, indeed, if we found that in one and the same breath the psalmist was triumphantly set upon a rock, and then in a minute or two bowed down with a weight of woe! We are not called on to entertain such a doleful supposition; and are glad, therefore, to deal with this piteous prayer and plea as standing by itself. It is not difficult to seize the progress of the thought.
I. HERE IS A SOUL IN DEEP DISTRESS. (Ver. 12.) Whether the "evils" are the iniquities themselves, or the form in which those iniquities are brought home to him, is not absolutely clear. Probably the latter is the case. Very often surrounding circumstances may bring to us bitterly painful reminders of past sin. And this may be one of God's means of bringing a soul to repentance through the avenue of remorse and shame.
II. HERE IS AN UTTER ABSENCE OF SYMPATHY FROM THE OUTSIDE WORLD. Yea, something more than a lack of sympathy; for there is ridicule (ver. 15), there is joy over his sorrow (ver. 14, latter part); there is even an effort to destroy his peace, and perchance to further a plot against his life. Note: In the moments of deepest distress, when we look for succour from man, we find that the greater part are so engrossed in their own affairs, that they have never a tear to shed over another's sorrows, nor a hand to help in another's needs. This is hard. But it is a part of the discipline of life; and it is made use of by God to drive us to himself.
III. THE PSALMIST IS SHUT UP TO GOD. (Vers. 11, 13, 17.) It is not for nought that we are sometimes shut off from the sympathies of man. However trying, it is an infinite mercy when we are left with God alone. There, however, we have a perpetual Refuge. There are no fewer than four comforting thoughts specified here.
(1) There is the name - Jehovah;
(2) there is the assurance of having a share in the thoughts of God (ver. 17); there is in God
(3) loving-kindness; and
(4) faithfulness. "Thy truth," i.e. thy fidelity to thy promises. Note: Whoever has such a Refuge to which to flee, is well prepared for the worst of times.
IV. TO GOD HE UTTERS A FERVENT, PLEADING PRAYER.
1. One part of his prayer, and a prominent part too, is against his enemies. (Ver. 15.) We need not imitate David here" (see our homily on Psalm 35.). Let us leave our enemies in the hands of God; or, rather, let us pray for them.
2. A second part of his prayer is on behalf of the godly. (Ver. 16.) Note: This indicates that the psalmist was not moved by private feeling only, but by a pious public spirit.
3. A third part of his prayer is for himself. (Vers. 13 and 17.) Note: It will be very selfish of us if we pray only for ourselves, and very unnatural if we do not include ourselves. - C.
Innumerable evils have compassed me about. I.
A SOUL BESET.
1. He is made to see the countless number of his sins. It is wonderful what a ray of light will do; the sun suddenly shines into a room, and the whole air seems full of innumerable specks of dust, dancing up and down in the sunbeam. The light does not make the room full of dust; it only shows you what was always there, but which you did not see until the sun shone in; and if a beam of God's true light were to shine into some of your hearts, you would think very differently of yourselves from what you have ever done. I question whether any one among us could bear to see himself as God sees him.
2. He is greatly perplexed by a sort of omnipresence of sin. When conscience wakes up the whole hive of our sins, we find ourselves compassed about with innumerable evils; sins at the board and sins on the bed, sins at the task and sins in the pew, sins in the street and sins in the shop, sins on land and sins at sea, sins of body, soul, and spirit, sins of eye, of lip, of hand, of foot, sins everywhere, every way sins.
3. He is so beset with sin that it seems to hold him in a terrible grip. If you have a number of sins which have once taken hold on you, you will be something like a stag when the whole pack of hounds has seized him, and his neck and his flanks and every bone in him seem to feel the hounds' teeth gnawing at them.
II. A SOUL BEWILDERED.
1. He did not dare to look his sins in the face.
2. He is unable to excuse himself.
3. He dare not look up to read God's promises.
III. A SOUL FAINTING. "Free grace and dying love" — I delight to ring those charming bells; oil, that every ear would welcome their blessed music! Poor fainting heart, do thou specially hear the gladsome tidings of free grace and dying love, and catch at the message, and rejoice in Christ to-night! The Lord grant that it may be so!
IV. A soul PLEADING.
1. It is a prayer distinctly to God.
2. It is an appeal to the good pleasure of God. Divine sovereignty is not to be denied. No man has any right to God's grace; if it be given to any one, it is given by the free favour of God, as He pleases, and to whom He pleases. But do thou, as a suppliant, take this lowly ground: "Be pleased, O Jehovah, to deliver me, for Thy mercy's sake, for Thy goodness' sake! Universal Ruler as Thou art, and able to save whom Thou wilt, for the rights of life and death are in the hands of the King of kings, be pleased, O Lord, to deliver reel" That is the way to plead with God. And then you may, if you like, use that last sentence: "Make haste, O Jehovah, to deliver me!" You may plead urgency; you may say, "Lord, if Thou dost not help me soon, I shall die. I am driven to such distress by my sin that, if thou dost not hear me soon, it will be too late. O Lord, help me now!"
TopicsAble, Bent, Beyond, Compassed, Encompassed, Evils, Failed, Faileth, Fails, Forsaken, Hairs, Heart, Hold, Iniquities, Innumerable, Numerous, Overtaken, Round, Sins, Strength, Surround, Surrounded, Till, Unnumbered, Weight, Within
Outline1. The benefit of confidence in God6. Obedience is the best sacrifice11. The sense of David's evils inflames his prayer
Dictionary of Bible ThemesPsalm 40:12
5009 conscience, nature of
1030 God, compassion
LibraryTwo Innumerable Series
'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 ... 12. 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.'--PSALMS xl. 5, 12. So then, there are two series of things which cannot be …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
Out of the Deep of Sin.
Innumerable troubles are come about me. My sins have taken such hold upon me, that I am not able to look up; yea, they are more in number than the hairs of my head, and my heart hath failed me.--Ps. xl. 15. I acknowledge my faults, and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight.--Ps. li. 3. I said, I will confess my sins unto the Lord; and so Thou forgavest the wickedness of my sin.--Ps. xxxii. 6. Blessed is the man whose iniquity is forgiven, and …
Charles Kingsley—Out of the Deep
The Master's Profession --The Disciple's Pursuit
WHO IS THE SPEAKER that gives utterance to these marvellous words? In the first instance they must be understood to proceed from our Lord Jesus Christ. By the Spirit of prophecy in the Old Testament they were spoken of him, and by the Spirit of interpretation in the New Testament they have been applied to him. Mark, then, how vehemently he here declares that he has fully discharged the work which he was sent to accomplish. When, in the days of his flesh, he was crying to his Father for preservation …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 17: 1871
Brought up from the Horrible Pit
I shall ask you, then, at this time, to observe our divine Lord when in His greatest trouble. Notice, first, our Lord's behavior--"I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry": then consider, secondly, our Lord deliverance, expressed by the phrase, "He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay," and so forth: then let us think, thirdly of the Lord's reward for it--"many shall see, and fear, and trust in the Lord":--that is His great end and object, …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 28: 1882
"Lo, I Come": Application
The times when our Lord says, "Lo, I come," have all a family likeness. There are certain crystals, which assume a regular shape, and if you break them, each fragment will show the same conformation; if you were to dash them to shivers, every particle of the crystal would be still of the same form. Now the goings forth of Christ which were of old, and his coming at Calvary, and that great advent when he shall come a second time to judge the earth in righteousness, all these have a likeness the one …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 37: 1891
"Lo, I Come": Exposition
"Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come in (the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God." WE HAVE, in the use made of the passage by the inspired apostle, sufficient authority for applying the quotation from the fortieth psalm to our divine Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. With such a commentary, we …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 37: 1891
Some General Uses from this Useful Truth, that Christ is the Truth.
Having thus cleared up this truth, we should come to speak of the way of believers making use of him as the truth, in several cases wherein they will stand in need of him as the truth. But ere we come to the particulars, we shall first propose some general uses of this useful point. First. This point of truth serveth to discover unto us, the woful condition of such as are strangers to Christ the truth; and oh, if it were believed! For, 1. They are not yet delivered from that dreadful plague of …
John Brown (of Wamphray)—Christ The Way, The Truth, and The Life
"He Hath Put a New Song in My Mouth, Even Thanksgiving unto Our God. " -- Psalm 40:3.
A NEW YEAR'S MORNING SONG. "He hath put a new song in my mouth, even thanksgiving unto our God." -- Psalm 40:3. Thanksgiving and the voice of melody, This new year's morning, call me from my sleep; A new, sweet song is in my heart for Thee, Thou faithful, tender Shepherd of the sheep; Thou knowest where to find, and how to keep The feeble feet that tremble where they stray, -- O'er the dark mountains -- through the whelming deep -- Thy everlasting mercy makes its way. The past is not so dark as …
Miss A. L. Waring—Hymns and Meditations
A New Song
"He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God."--Ps. xl. 3. R. Rolle, 1349. tr., Emma Frances Bevan, 1899 I know not the song of Thy praises, Till Thou teach it, my God, to me-- Till I hear the still voice of Thy Spirit, Who speaketh for ever of Thee-- Till I hear the celestial singing, And learn the new song of Thy grace, And then shall I tell forth the marvels I learnt in Thy secret place. Thy marvels, not mine, far surpassing All thoughts of my heart must they be-- I can but declare …
Frances Bevan—Hymns of Ter Steegen and Others (Second Series)
Life of St. Vincent de Paul
SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL c. 1581-1660 By F.A. [Francis Alice] Forbes "Blessed is he that understandeth concerning the needy and the poor: the Lord will deliver him in the evil day." --Psalm 40:2 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. Wherefore he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart, to preach deliverance to the captives, and sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of …
Frances Alice Forbes—Life of St. Vincent de Paul
Introduction to Expositio Fidei.
The date of this highly interesting document is quite uncertain, but there is every ground for placing it earlier than the explicitly anti-Arian treatises. Firstly, the absence of any express reference to the controversy against Arians, while yet it is clearly in view in §§3 and 4, which lay down the rule afterwards consistently adopted by Athanasius with regard to texts which speak of the Saviour as created. Secondly, the untroubled use of homoios (§1, note 4) to express the Son's …
Athanasius—Select Works and Letters or Athanasius
The History of the Psalter
[Sidenote: Nature of the Psalter] Corresponding to the book of Proverbs, itself a select library containing Israel's best gnomic literature, is the Psalter, the compendium of the nation's lyrical songs and hymns and prayers. It is the record of the soul experiences of the race. Its language is that of the heart, and its thoughts of common interest to worshipful humanity. It reflects almost every phase of religious feeling: penitence, doubt, remorse, confession, fear, faith, hope, adoration, and …
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament
Life Hid and not Hid
'Thy word have I hid in my heart.'--PSALM cxix. 11. 'I have not hid Thy righteousness in my heart.'--PSALM xl. 10. Then there are two kinds of hiding--one right and one wrong: one essential to the life of the Christian, one inconsistent with it. He is a shallow Christian who has no secret depths in his religion. He is a cowardly or a lazy one, at all events an unworthy one, who does not exhibit, to the utmost of his power, his religion. It is bad to have all the goods in the shop window; it is just …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
How when Tribulation Cometh we must Call Upon and Bless God
Blessed be thy name, O Lord, for evermore, who hast willed this temptation and trouble to come upon me. I cannot escape it, but have need to flee unto Thee, that Thou mayest succour me and turn it unto me for good. Lord, now am I in tribulation, and it is not well within my heart, but I am sore vexed by the suffering which lieth upon me. And now, O dear Father, what shall I say? I am taken among the snares. Save me from this hour, but for this cause came I unto this hour,(1) that Thou mightest …
Thomas A Kempis—Imitation of Christ
Like one of Us.
"But a body Thou hast prepared Me."-- Heb. x. 5. The completion of the Old Testament did not finish the work that the Holy Spirit undertook for the whole Church. The Scripture may be the instrument whereby to act upon the consciousness of the sinner and to open his eyes to the beauty of the divine life, but it can not impart that life to the Church. Hence it is followed by another work of the Holy Spirit, viz., the preparation of the body of Christ. The well-known words of Psalm xl. 6, 7: "Sacrifice …
Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit
Eligius, Bishop of Noyon.
THE life of this pious bishop is so much the more worthy our consideration, on account of his having passed many years in the position of an ordinary citizen, before he entered on the clerical office; because his life may thus afford us a picture of the pious citizens of his time. Eligius was born at Chatelàt, a mile from Limoges, A. D. 588. His family had been Christian for many generations, and he received a pious education,  the result of which extended throughout his life. In his youth, …
Augustus Neander—Light in the Dark Places
The Lamb of God, the Great Atonement
Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world! G reat and marvellous are the works of the LORD God almighty! We live in the midst of them, and the little impression they make upon us, sufficiently proves our depravity. He is great in the very smallest; and there is not a plant, flower, or insect, but bears the signature of infinite wisdom and power. How sensibly then should we be affected by the consideration of the Whole , if sin had not blinded our understandings, and hardened …
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1
Out of the Deep of Doubt, Darkness, and Hell.
O Lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night unto Thee. Oh! let my prayer enter into Thy presence. For my soul is full of trouble and my life draweth nigh unto Hell. Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in a place of darkness, and in the deep.--Ps. lxxxviii. 1, 2. If I go down to Hell, Thou art there also. Yea, the darkness is no darkness with Thee; but the night is as clear as the day.--Ps. cxxxix. 7, 11. I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my calling. …
Charles Kingsley—Out of the Deep
Of Internal Acts
Of Internal Acts Acts are distinguished into External and Internal. External acts are those which bear relation to some sensible object, and are either morally good or evil, merely according to the nature of the principle from which they proceed. I intend here to speak only of Internal acts, those energies of the soul, by which it turns internally to some objects, and averts from others. If during my application to God I should form a will to change the nature of my act, I thereby withdraw myself …
Madame Guyon—A Short and Easy Method of Prayer
Distinction Between Exterior and Interior Actions --Those of the Soul in this Condition are Interior, but Habitual, Continued, Direct, Profound, Simple, and Imperceptible --Being a Continual
The actions of men are either exterior or interior. The exterior are those which appear outwardly, and have a sensible object, possessing neither good nor evil qualities, excepting as they receive them from the interior principle in which they originate. It is not of these that I intend to speak, but only of interior actions, which are those actions of the soul by which it applies itself inwardly to some object, or turns away from some other. When, being applied to God, I desire to commit an …
Jeanne Marie Bouvières—A Short Method Of Prayer And Spiritual Torrents
Of the Woman dwelling in the Wilderness. The woman delivered of a child, when the dragon was overcome, from thenceforth dwelt in the wilderness, by which is figured the state of the Church, liberated from Pagan tyranny, to the time of the seventh trumpet, and the second Advent of Christ, by the type, not of a latent, invisible, but, as it were, an intermediate condition, like that of the lsraelitish Church journeying in the wilderness, from its departure from Egypt, to its entrance into the land …
Joseph Mede—A Key to the Apocalypse
Period ii. The Church from the Permanent Division of the Empire Until the Collapse of the Western Empire and the First Schism Between the East and the West, or Until About A. D. 500
In the second period of the history of the Church under the Christian Empire, the Church, although existing in two divisions of the Empire and experiencing very different political fortunes, may still be regarded as forming a whole. The theological controversies distracting the Church, although different in the two halves of the Graeco-Roman world, were felt to some extent in both divisions of the Empire and not merely in the one in which they were principally fought out; and in the condemnation …
Joseph Cullen Ayer Jr., Ph.D.—A Source Book for Ancient Church History
"That the Righteousness of the Law Might be Fulfilled in Us. "
Rom. viii. 4.--"That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us." God having a great design to declare unto the world both his justice and mercy towards men, he found out this mean most suitable and proportioned unto it, which is here spoken of in the third verse,--to send his own Son to bear the punishment of sin, that the righteousness of the law might be freely and graciously fulfilled in sinners. And, indeed, it was not imaginable by us, how he could declare both in the salvation …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
The Man after God's Own Heart
"A man after mine own heart, who shall fulfil all my will."--ACTS xiii. 22. A BIBLE STUDY ON THE IDEAL OF A CHRISTIAN LIFE No man can be making much of his life who has not a very definite conception of what he is living for. And if you ask, at random, a dozen men what is the end of their life, you will be surprised to find how few have formed to themselves more than the most dim idea. The question of the summum bonum has ever been the most difficult for the human mind to grasp. What shall a man …
Henry Drummond—The Ideal Life
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