God Sustains His People

Psalm 40.

A general perusal of the Book of Psalms inevitably draws us into the remarkable width and depth of experiences of her composers. Hence, to appreciate its content is to grasp its vocabulary and discourse in response to life’s encounters within the divine framework. Several themes are taken up by the songs, and Psalm 40 is no different; where waiting on God ran through the preceding three psalms by King David. It has two parts: vv.1 to 10 and vv. 11 to the end. The English version of the initial three verses does not convey the intensity of David waiting for Yahweh (Ps 40:1). Although we are not informed on the purpose for that ‘waiting,’ the subsequent descriptive metaphors provide some insight that an almost fatal entrapment was referenced implying a flailing vulnerability or powerlessness on the King’s part (c.f., 2Cor 12:7-10 & 2Cor 11:23-27). The generalisation of the issue enabled the reader to identify with him in their most distressful of circumstances, where his salvation appears to form the crux of his celebration (Ps 40:2-3). However, the King reframed his difficulties and refocused on the remarkable glorious deliverance by his Lord to his trust in his God; sufficient to bear testimony for others to similarly trust in Him. David’s primary purpose was to illustrate that his personal adversity and eventual rescue was dependent on the faithfulness of Yahweh. He makes it crystal clear the alternatives in whom we trust; either in God or ‘the proud’ and ‘those who lapsed into falsehood’ (Ps 40:4). To most, we invariably thank God for the blessings He bestowed on us when everything is going well; seldom would we include the ‘pit of destruction’ nor ‘the miry clay’ as part of His blessings. However, David claims that these were part of God’s plans for us (Ps 40:5). When we focus on the sovereignty of Yahweh, the whole of life’s journey, the negatives as well as the positives, are encapsulated within His divine will. (c.f., Ps 139:1-18); nothing is excluded in His omniscience! In the wake of such a responsive God on behalf of His people, what ought to be our response?

Since sacrifices and offerings are determined to be inadequate in expressing the Old Testament polity in expressing the Jews’ thankfulness for God’s lovingkindness and protection, neither would increasing substantively our tithing too in our up-to-date practice. David concluded that since his ears had been pierced, implying that he had become enslaved to his Master as was the practice in his days (c.f., Exodus 21:1-6), the only option that made sense was to dedicate himself to God for the entirety of his life and to focus on doing His will (Ps 40:6-8; c.f., Heb 10:1-25). Dedicated obedience! His excitement in his Lord modelled the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to the Roman believers to walk in step with our Saviour’s example in submission to His Father: i.e., to present their bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is their spiritual service of worship (Rom 12:1-2). Thus, David’s enduring enthusiastic public testimony of God centred around proclaiming his Creator’s righteousness, faithfulness, salvation, lovingkindness and truth. (Ps 40:9-10). For such authentication to be effective, one’s life undeviatingly ought to mirror a level of credibility in terms of Christlikeness (c.f., 2Cor 3:1-3), in order to impact our Oikos and beyond, inclusive of successive generations in the divine community.

In our fragmented world, the immutable factor that would enable us to cling to life is God’s eternal faithfulness in chesed (i.e., lovingkindness). King David once again drew his strength and confidence from God, who will deliver him from the ongoing untold personal misdemeanours (Ps 40:11-12), and his enemies who continually sought to destroy and discredit him (Ps 40:13-15). When we do eventually come to grips with Yahweh’s sovereign authority and learn to effectively submit to God, we will be comforted that He is in control in the varied predicament that had confronted us in the past, our ongoing difficulties, and whatever that may surface in the future. His grace and love are perpetually available to us, and His timing in aiding us is impeccable. For those who do trust in Him, their proclamation will always be ‘The Lord be exalted’ (Ps 40:16-17).