Psalm 40 is attributed to David. It is a song of praise for all the ways God has rescued him in the past and at the same time a prayer for help in the troubles of the present.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
No literal slimy pit, but a picture for different times of crisis in his troubled life, quite possibly before he was king when David was being pursued by Saul who wanted to kill him.
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
God doesn’t just rescue us from our crises but he gives us a strong foundation for our lives.
3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
It is only right that we should praise God for all he has done for us!
How did David come to receive those blessings?
(1) Trusting in God – the true God of miracles, instead of on false gods or on fallible human beings.
4 Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.
(2) Seeking to do God’s will
8 I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.’
(3) Not hiding his faith but speaking up for God
9 I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, LORD, as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly.
Because God has helped him in the past, David knows he can call on God for help in the present and in the future. Now he is in trouble once again, David is praying to God to save him again.
11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, LORD; may your love and faithfulness always protect me. …
13 Be pleased to save me, LORD; come quickly, LORD, to help me. ….
However much God has helped us in the past, throughout our lives we will keep on needing him to help and rescue us again and again. So David can confidently pray to God and ask for help once again,
17 But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay.
And as he calls on God for help in his present situation, David is remembering what he has done to receive God’s blessings in the past. It was something very simple.
1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
What does it mean to “wait for God”? There are two main senses of the phrase which are relevant to us in these troubles times. We have lived in a world of instant everything. We are used to being able to get anything we want, immediately any time of day. It has been very strange to have to learn to queue to buy things, and to discover after all our waiting that what we wanted is not available. It has been challenging not to be allowed to jump in the car and go to wherever we fancy going. We are not used to waiting. But sometimes God wants us to learn to wait. To wait for him. To wait on Him.
The first sense of waiting for God is about waiting for answers to prayer
(Psalm 37:34) “My soul, wait only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” “Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt you to inherit the land
Psalm 25:5 “Lead me in your truth, and teach me; for you are the God of my salvation; on you do I wait all the day.”
Andrew Murray has written a lovely little book called “Waiting on God”. In it he says that the whole purpose of waiting on God is for us to learn our ABSOLUTE AND UNCEASING DEPENDENCE ON GOD. Let me try to sum up some of the points he makes.
God intends to keep his children people dependent upon himself. He has everything we can need. He intends to supply all our needs. But he wants us to rely on Him. He teaches his children to wait on him, and wait for him. In doing so, God is testing our faith and patience, and perseverance. He sometimes puts us to a severe test, but he will never fail us, forsake us, or abandon us. The Lord is our God and He is with us.
Waiting on God increases our faith. We learn to trust the love he has for us, his watchful care over us, his delight in us, the promises he has given us, the provision he has made for us. As we wait on God, joy in God will spring up, the peace of God will fill our hearts and minds and we realise that we can be happy by looking to God alone.
We should wait on God whatever the circumstances. God is faithful to his word, true to his character, and full of love to his people. However we may change, He will never change.
We all go through dark times and hard times. God may seem far away. It may seem as though He doesn’t love us any more. Everything may be cold and cheerless, all doom and gloom. But we should still wait on God. David was almost overwhelmed by all his trials, distresses, and troubles. But he waited on the Lord, his prayers were answered and so David gave this testimony in Psalm 40:
1I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
When we are feeling at our weakest, when we have the heaviest burdens to carry, the most difficult hills to climb, and the most demanding duties to perform, God will help us. We just need to wait for him. When the strongest enemies are allowed to assault us in our weaknesses, God is with us. We just need to wait for him, and he will renew our strength so that we can rise up on wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:30)
“The LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him” (Isaiah 30:18).
Andrew Murray says that “we should wait on God with hope – putting our hope in God alone. And we should wait with perseverance. Plead with God. Rest on the promise of God, and never give it up. Wait at the throne of God, and don’t let anything drive you away from there. We have the promises of the unchangeable God to rest upon, So we should trust in the Lord with all our hearts, and wait on our God continually. In times of affliction and trouble, in all times of temptation and suffering, wait on God. In the exercise of faith and patience, pleading with him to perform his promises, and deliver your soul, wait upon God. Without murmuring or complaining, wait upon God. Wait upon him and wait for him always. Expect him to act the part of a wise, faithful, kind, and loving Father; and he will never neglect or deceive you. Wait, therefore, upon God as God, and as true to his word; “so shall your peace be like a river, and your righteoussness as the waves of the sea.”
So as we wait for God to answer our prayers and come to our aid. While we are doing that there is a second sense of waiting on God. That is in found in the classic traditions of spirituality – prayers of meditation and contemplation. Waiting on God is also about enjoying God’s presence
Just spending time in the presence of God. Worshipping God. Enjoying God. Being in God’s presence. Some Psalms talk about waiting on God as simply spending time in prayer enjoying God.
Psa 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God”
Psalms 130:5-6 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.
Psalms 27:4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
We wait on the Lord by trusting God and meditating on His wonderful promises to us. Repeating last week, the Shorter Westminster Catechism says that the chief end of human beings, our destiny and the whole purpose for which we are created, is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Waiting on God is about preparing ourselves for heaven by learning how to enjoy God here and now.
So Psalm 40 verse 1.
1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
Waiting on God – waiting for him to answer our prayers and spending time learning to enjoy God. Lovely in theory. Not so easy in practice. Waiting PATIENTLY? That’s the difficult bit. Patiently. That’s the thing I am personally finding very hard in these days!