May all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; may those who love Your salvation always say, "The LORD be magnified!"
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.
Let such as love Thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified.
All who are saved unto eternal life not only accept God's salvation from a sense of their absolute and urgent need of it as the alone method that meets their case, but they fall in love with it, give it their best affections. Experiencing its benign, restorative influences, they delight themselves in its Divine Author — "the God of their salvation"; but they do not, cannot overlook the salvation itself. And the word of this salvation has been sent to us. One should have thought that all would have welcomed it. But the case is far otherwise. However, there are those who love God's salvation and their number continually increases. But with these it was not always so. They, too, for a long while did not desire it, and "they hid as it were their faces from it, despised it and esteemed it not." But now it is all their desire, for a great change has been wrought in them. And the reasons that rule both those who hate and those who love God's salvation are the same. This may seem a paradox, but it is sober truth. For the reason why this salvation is loved is because it engages to deliver wholly from sin, in our love of it and in our living in it. No doubt others love salvation in the sense of deliverance from sin's direful consequences hereafter. There is no need that a man should be born again in order to his loving God's salvation in this vague, outward, selfish sense. Every man is deeply averse to pain and perdition, and cannot endure the thought of them. Self-love in the form of self-defence is a universal law relating to life of every sort, even the lowest in the vegetable creation, and particularly in sentient existences, both on land and in the sea. This is so well established that it has passed into a proverb that "self-preservation is the first law of life." The sensitive plant is an instance in point. The sponge also may be adduced as another. Naturalists tell us that, in its native home in the deep, it will draw itself together of its own accord in order to escape destruction. Being often devoured by the fish for food, it quickly discovers their approach, and to protect itself against their marauding designs it contracts itself voluntarily into a much smaller space than it can be squeezed into forcibly; but the danger over, if it be fortunate enough to escape, it again expands itself into its usual size. It will not yield itself up to be devoured so long as it can help it. There is scarcely need to add that no creature will willingly suffer, especially what threatens life, without a hard struggle and a persistent resistance to the last. Hence we find mankind generally coveting earnestly to be saved in the sense o! escaping from misery and enjoying bliss. At least they choose heaven rather than hell, though they will not accept it in the only way in which it may be had, and the only way in which it is worth having. They are deeply in love with forgiveness of sins and immunity from suffering their penal consequences, but they utterly regret the way in which all this may be secured. Pardon and safety they will accept, and if they can be assured that they have nothing to fear, it will be a great relief to them; but when you speak about conversion, contrition, resisting sin, and mortifying and renouncing it, and doing the will of God, they will not listen, but prefer not to be saved titan to part with their sins. But those who love God's salvation love it for these very reasons, that it parts them for ever from their sins, slaying them within them, and leading them on to purity of heart and life. For salvation is not merely deliverance from danger and distress. However indispensable this experience may be to the spiritual life, it ought by degrees to be comparatively lost; at least that another greater — yes, I advisedly say greater — should supersede it and occupy its place, namely, what to do to be healed, to be spiritually well. Strange to say, here men quarrel with the salvation of God instead of allowing it to do its proper work upon them by eradicating sin from their nature. But for this selfsame reason it is ardently loved by those whose hearts are in the right. Again, what has been sought to be proved will be seen still further by adverting to the freeness of the salvation. This will further illustrate and establish the truth of my statement, for it is a well-known fact that God's salvation, by reason of its entire and absolute freeness, is at a discount on the one hand, and at a premium on the other. Next to the entire moral recovery it effects, its freeness alike stirs up hatred and produces love; and men fall out and fall in with it for the selfsame reason. Salvation by grace gives hope to the poor, needy and lost sinner, who is conscious of his great misery, unworthiness and ill-desert. How highly he prizes this graciousness! If its gratuitous freeness spoils it to blind, conceited unbelief, the selfsame peculiarity makes it doubly precious to the believer, and evolves his devoutest affection. And, blessed be God, it is a most convenient as well as a most profitable transaction for us. If we bring to this salvation our darkness, we shall have its light; our poverty, we shall have its riches: our guilt, we shall haw its pardon; our misery, we shall have its happiness.
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