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Song of Solomon
Psalms 40 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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> I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
I waited patiently for the Lord
- a common Hebrew idiom, when an idea is to be emphasized. No writer enforces upon us more earnestly than David the duty of awaiting God's pleasure (
Psalm 62:1, 5
, etc.). And he inclined unto me; literally,
bent towards me
- an anthropomorphism, but most expressive. And heard my cry;
answered it - gave me what I prayed for.
He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock,
established my goings.
He brought me up also out of an horrible pit
a pit of tumult or uproar
, which is variously explained. Some imagine a pit with rushing water at the bottom of it, but such pits are scarcely known in Palestine. Others a pit which is filled with noise as a warrior, with crash of arms and amid the shouts of enemies, falls into it. But pits, though used in hunting, were not employed in warfare. The explanation that
here is to be taken in the secondary sense of "destruction" or "misery," seems to me preferable (see the Septuagint,
Out of the miry
Psalm 69:2, 14
). Such "clay "would be frequently found at the bottom of disused cisterns.
And set my feet upon a rock
upon solid ground, where I had a firm footing.
And established my goings
and make my steps firm
And he hath put a new song in my mouth,
praise unto our God: many shall see
, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.
And he hath put a new song in my mouth
(see the comment on Psalm 33:3).
Even praise unto our God
. Mercy and praise are cause and effect. The deliverance recorded in ver. 2 produces the praise of vers. 3-5. The phrase, "our God," shows us how David instinctively identifies himself with his people. A mercy shown to him is one shown to them.
Many shall see it, and fear
, where the phrase, "all Israel shall hear and fear," is used of the effect produced by the capital punishment of a high-handed transgressor of the Law). There may be an allusion here to Absalom's end, which was probably followed by a certain number of executions
. And shall trust in the Lord
shall have their faith in God strengthened.
that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.
Blessed is that man
(rather, the man)
that maketh the Lord his trust,
and respecteth not the proud;
turneth not to the proud
- does not go over to their party or espouse their principles. Absalom's adherents are probably the persons intended.
Nor such as turn aside to lies
"prefer falsehood to truth," the cause of the ungodly to that of God himself.
Many, O LORD my God,
thy wonderful works
thou hast done, and thy thoughts
to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee:
I would declare and speak
, they are more than can be numbered.
Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast
It is not only for his recent deliverance (ver. 2) that the psalmist owes thanks and gratitude to God. God's mercies in the past have been countless, and have laid him under unspeakable obligations.
And thy thoughts which are to us-ward
. God's thoughtfulness for man, his consideration and providential care, deserve praise and thanks equally with his wondrous acts.
They cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee
. They are so numerous that it is impossible to reckon them up. Many of them, moreover, are secret, and escape our notice.
If I would declare and speak of them. they are more than can be numbered
. Words, therefore, are insufficient; and some better return than mere words must be found.
Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.
Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire
. Will the right return be by sacrifices and burnt offerings? No, the psalmist answers to himself; it is not these which God really "desires." Samuel had already preached the doctrine, "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (
1 Samuel 15:22
). David goes further. Apart from a spirit of obedience, sacrifice and offering are not desired or required at all; rather, as Isaiah says, they are a weariness and an abomination (
Isaiah 1:11, 12
). The one thing needed is obedience - a cheerful, willing obedience to all that God reveals as his will.
Mine ears hast thou opened
. Either, "Thou hast taken away my deafness, and given me ears open to receive and embrace thy Law;" or, perhaps, with special reference to
, "Thou hast accepted me as thy voluntary servant, and bored through mine ear, to mark that I am thy servant for ever."
Burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required
. Of the four kinds of offering mentioned in this verse, the first (
) is the ordinary offering of a victim at the altar in sacrifice; the second (
), the meat offering of flour, with oil and frankincense accompanying it; the third (
) is the "whole burnt offering," representative of complete self-sacrifice; and the fourth (
), the "sin offering," or "trespass offering," of which the special intention was expiation.
Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book
written of me,
Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me
then said I
I come with the roll of the book written concerning me.
"Then" means "as soon as my ears were opened." "Lo, I come," marks ready and prompt obedience (see
2 Samuel 19:20
). The psalmist represents himself as brining with him "the roll of the book,"
the book of the Law in its ordinary form of a parchment roll, to show what it is that he is prepared to obey. This book, he says, is written "concerning him," since it contains precepts concerning a king's duties (
I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law
within my heart.
I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy Law is within my heart.
The obedience to be rendered will be a true and acceptable obedience,
from the heart.
Consciously or unconsciously, David speaks as the type of Christ (see
I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest.
I have preached righteousness in the great congregation
have proclaimed righteousness.
David has sung the praises of God in the "great congregation," and extolled his righteousness and truth (
). He has not "preached," in the modern sense of the word, since the preaching office was reserved for the priests and Levites. Lo, I have not refrained my lips; or,
I will not refrain my lips.
I will continue to glorify thee openly, and praise thy Name while I have my being (
). O Lord, thou knowest;
thou knowest the truth of my statement as to the past, and the sincerity of my promise as to the future.
I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.
I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation; I have not concealed thy loving-kindness and thy truth from the great congregation
. David's psalms furnish a running commentary on these statements. Composed, as appears from the titles, mainly for use in the "great congregation," they set forth the righteousness, faithfulness, salvation, loving-kindness, and truth of God in the strongest possible way. Contemporary Israel, and later Israel, and the Church which has succeeded to the place of the original Israelites, and become "the Israel of God," are alike indebted to him for the wonderful strains in which he has shown forth and magnified these qualities of the Almighty.
Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.
Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord
. The supplicatory portion of the psalm here commences. David beseeches God, whose loving-kindness is so great (ver. 10), not to withhold
those "tender mercies" which he lavishes so freely. As he is bent on "not withholding," or "refraining," his lips (ver. 9), so it is fitting that God should not "withhold," or "refrain" (
) his kindness.
Let thy loving-kindness and thy truth continually preserve me
(compare the last clause of ver. 10).
For 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.
For innumerable evils have compassed me about
for evils have gathered upon me until there is no
number (comp. vers. 1, 2). The exact nature of the "evils" is not mentioned; but the worst of them appears to be "the deep and bitter consciousness of sin" revealed in the next clause. Another was, beyond all doubt, the continued animosity of enemies (ver. 14). Mental and bodily weakness may have been added, and have completed the crushing load whereof complaint is made. It is noted that the exceedingly deep consciousness of sin here displayed "belongs altogether to a late part of David's life" (Canon Cook).
Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not
able to look up;
am not able to see.
An actual failure of sight seems to be intended (comp.
They are more than the hairs
of my head;
they are more in number.
Therefore my heart faileth me
"my courage" and "my strength of mind" (comp.
Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me.
Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver us
. Though one deliverance is just effected (ver. 2), it is not enough; something more is required. The psalmist's life is still threatened by enemies (ver. 14); he is still scoffed at and flouted (ver. 15).
O Lord, make haste to help me
make haste to my help
). The Church follows the example set, when she says in her versicles, "O God, make speed to save us. O Lord, make haste to help us."
Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil.
them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward, and put to shame, that wish me evil.
The remainder of the psalm from this point is detached later on in the Psalter, and becomes a separate psalm - the seventieth. Whether the detachment was the work of David or another, is uncertain. The differences between the two versions are slight (see the comment on Psalm 70.). The present verse repeats almost exactly
and 26. It is again repeated, with slight variations, in
Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha.
Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame;
by reason of their shame
(Kay, Alexander, Revised Version). Let the shame and disgrace that attach to them (ver. 14) cause them to be desolate, or deserted of all. That say unto me, Aha, aha! (comp.
Psalm 35:21, 25
Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified.
Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee
. The psalmist cannot long be satisfied with mere prayer for
He must extend his supplication, and make it cover the whole body of the faithful, "all
that seek God" (comp.
Psalm 25:2, 3, 20-22
Let such as love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified
"Give them constant occasion to say, and give them the grateful heart to say, The Lord be praised for his mercies" (comp.
poor and needy;
the Lord thinketh upon me: thou
my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.
But I am poor and
David could say this in time of trouble. No one is more in need than a discrowned king, driven from his throne and land, and not yet restored to either (
2 Samuel 9:4
Yet the Lord thinketh upon me
. The "poor and needy" are those whom God especially considers (see
Psalm 10:12, 17, 18
.). Thou art my Help and my Deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God
(comp. ver. 13, and the comment ad loc.).
Courtesy of Open Bible
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