Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher - Works Upon This Psalm
TITLE. To the Chief Musician. Well might so exceedingly
precious a Psalm be specially committed to the most skilled of the sacred
musicians. The noblest music should be made tributary to a subject so
incomparable. The dedication shows that the song was intended for public
worship, and was not a merely personal hymn, as its being in the first person
singular might lead us to suppose. A Psalm of David. This is conclusive as to
the authorship: lifted by the Holy Spirit into the region of prophecy, David was
honoured to write concerning a far greater than himself.
SUBJECT. Jesus is evidently here, and although it might not
be a violent wresting of language to see both David and his Lord, both Christ
and the church, the double comment might involve itself in obscurity, and
therefore we shall let the sun shine even though this should conceal the stars.
Even if the New Testament were not so express upon it, we should have concluded
that David spoke of our Lord in Ps 40:6-9, but the apostle in Heb 10:5-9, puts
all conjecture out of court, and confines the meaning to him who came into the
world to do the Father's will.
DIVISION. From Ps 40:1-3, is a personal thanksgiving,
followed by a general declaration of Jehovah's goodness to his saints, Ps
40:4-5. In Ps 40:6-10, we have an avowal of dedication to the Lord's will; Ps
40:11-17, contains a prayer for deliverance from pressing trouble, and for the
overthrow of enemies.
Verse 1. I waited patiently for the Lord. Patient waiting
upon God was a special characteristic of our Lord Jesus. Impatience never
lingered in his heart, much less escaped his lips. All through his agony in the
garden, his trial of cruel mockings before Herod and Pilate, and his passion on
the tree, he waited in omnipotence of patience. No glance of wrath, no word of
murmuring, no deed of vengeance came from God's patient Lamb; he waited and
waited on; was patient, and patient to perfection, far excelling all others who
have according to their measure glorified God in the fires. Job on the dunghill
does not equal Jesus on the cross. The Christ of God wears the imperial crown
among the patient. Did the Only Begotten wait, and shall we be petulant and
rebellious? And he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. Neither
Jesus the head, nor any one of the members of his body, shall ever wait upon the
Lord in vain. Mark the figure of inclining, as though the suppliant cried out of
the lowest depression, and condescending love stooped to hear his feeble moans.
What a marvel is it that our Lord Jesus should have to cry as we do, and wait as
we do, and should receive the Father's help after the same process of faith and
pleading as must be gone through by ourselves! The Saviour's prayers among the
midnight mountains and in Gethsemane expound this verse. The Son of David was
brought very low, but he rose to victory; and here he teaches us how to conduct
our conflicts so as to succeed after the same glorious pattern of triumph. Let
us arm ourselves with the same mind; and panoplied in patience, armed with
prayer, and girt with faith, let us maintain the Holy War.
Verse 2. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit. When
our Lord bore in his own person the terrible curse which was due to sin, he was
so cast down as to be like a prisoner in a deep, dark, fearful dungeon, amid
whose horrible glooms the captive heard a noise as of rushing torrents, while
overhead resounded the tramp of furious foes. Our Lord in his anguish was like a
captive in the oubliettes, forgotten of all mankind, immured amid horror,
darkness, and desolation. Yet the Lord Jehovah made him to ascend from all his
abasement; he retraced his steps from that deep hell of anguish into which he
had been cast as our substitute. He who thus delivered our surety in
extremis, will not fail to liberate us from our far lighter griefs. Out
of the miry clay. The sufferer was as one who cannot find a foothold, but
slips and sinks. The figure indicates not only positive misery as in the former
figure, but the absence of solid comfort by which sorrow might have been
rendered supportable. Once give man a good foothold, and a burden is greatly
lightened, but to be loaded and to be placed on slimy, slippery clay, is to be
tried doubly. Reader, with humble gratitude, adore the dear Redeemer who, for
thy sake, was deprived of all consolation while surrounded with every form of
misery; remark his gratitude at being born up amid his arduous labours and
sufferings, and if thou too hast experienced the divine help, be sure to join
thy Lord in this song. And set my feet upon a rock, and established my
goings. The Redeemer's work is done. He reposes on the firm ground of his
accomplished engagements; he can never suffer again; for ever does he reign in
glory. What a comfort to know that Jesus our Lord and Saviour stands on a sure
foundation in all that he is and does for us, and his goings forth in love are
not liable to be cut short by failure in years to come, for God has fixed him
firmly. He is for ever and eternally able to save unto the uttermost them that
come unto God by him, seeing that in the highest heavens he ever liveth to make
intercession for them. Jesus is the true Joseph taken from the pit to be Lord of
all. It is something more than a "sip of sweetness" to remember that if we are
cast like our Lord into the lowest pit of shame and sorrow, we shall by faith
rise to stand on the same elevated, sure, and everlasting rock of divine favour
Verse 3. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise
unto our God. At the passover, before his passion, our Lord sang one
of the grand old Psalms of praise; but what is the music of his heart now, in
the midst of his redeemed! What a song is that in which his glad heart for ever
leads the chorus of the elect! Not Miriam's tabor nor Moses' triumphant hymn
over Miriam's chivalry can for a moment rival that ever new and exulting song.
Justice magnified and grace victorious; hell subdued and heaven glorified; death
destroyed and immortality established; sin overthrown and righteousness
resplendent; what a theme for a hymn in that day when our Lord drinketh the red
wine new with us all in our heavenly Father's kingdom! Even on earth, and before
his great passion, he foresaw the joy which was set before him, and was
sustained by the prospect. Our God. The God of Jesus, the God of Israel,
"my God and your God." How will we praise him, but ah! Jesus will be the
chief player on our stringed instruments; he will lead the solemn hallelujah
which shall go up from the sacramental host redeemed by blood. Many shall see
it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord. A multitude that no man
can number shall see the griefs and triumphs of Jesus, shall tremble because of
their sinful rejection of him, and then through grace shall receive faith and
become trusters in Jehovah. Here is our Lord's reward. Here is the assurance
which makes preachers bold and workers persevering. Reader, are you one among
the many? Note the way of salvation, a sight, a fear, a trust! Do you know what
these mean by possessing and practising them in your own soul? Trusting in the
Lord is the evidence, nay, the essence of salvation. He who is a true believer
is evidently redeemed from the dominion of sin and Satan.
Verse 4. Blessed. This is an exclamation similar to that of
the first Psalm, "Oh, the happiness of the man." God's blessings are emphatic,
"I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, "indeed and in very truth. Is
that man that maketh the Lord his trust. Faith obtaineth promises. A simple
single eyed confidence in God is the sure mark of blessedness. A man may be as
poor as Lazarus, as hated as Mordecai, as sick as Hezekiah, as lonely as Elijah,
but while his hand of faith can keep its hold on God, none of his outward
afflictions can prevent his being numbered among the blessed; but the wealthiest
and most prosperous man who has no faith is accursed, be he who he may. And
respecteth not the proud. The proud expect all men to bow down and do them
reverence, as if the worship of the golden calves were again set up in Israel;
but believing men are too noble to honour mere money bags, or cringe before
bombastic dignity. The righteous pay their respect to humble goodness, rather
than to inflated self consequence. Our Lord Jesus was in this our bright
example. No flattery of kings and great ones ever fell from his lips; he gave no
honour to dishonourable men. The haughty were never his favourites. Nor such
as turn aside to lies. Heresies and idolatries are lies, and so are avarice,
worldliness, and pleasure seeking. Woe to those who follow such deceptions. Our
Lord was ever both the truth and the lover of truth, and the father of lies had
no part in him. We must never pay deference to apostates, time servers, and
false teachers; they are an ill leaven, and the more we purge ourselves of them
the better; they are blessed whom God preserves from all error in creed and
practice. Judged by this verse, many apparently happy persons must be the
reverse of blessed, for anything in the shape of a purse, a fine equipage, or a
wealthy establishment, commands their reverence, whether the owner be a rake or
a saint, an idiot or a philosopher. Verily, were the arch fiend of hell to start
a carriage and pair, and live like a lord, he would have thousands who would
court his acquaintance.
Verse 5. Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou
hast done. Creation, providence, and redemption, teem with wonders as
the sea with life. Our special attention is called by this passage to the
marvels which cluster around the cross and flash from it. The accomplished
redemption achieves many ends, and compasses a variety of designs; the outgoings
of the atonement are not to be reckoned up, the influences of the cross reach
further than the beams of the sun. Wonders of grace beyond all enumeration take
their rise from the cross; adoption, pardon, justification, and a long chain of
godlike miracles of love proceed from it. Note that our Lord here speaks of the
Lord as "my God." The man Christ Jesus claimed for himself and us a covenant
relationship with Jehovah. Let our interest in our God be ever to us our
peculiar treasure. And thy thoughts which are toward us. The
divine thoughts march with the divine acts, for it is not according the God's
wisdom to act without deliberation and counsel. All the divine thoughts are good
and gracious towards his elect. God's thoughts of love are very many, very
wonderful, very practical! Muse on them, dear reader; no sweeter subject ever
occupied your mind. God's thoughts of you are many, let not yours be few in
return. They cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee. Their sum
is so great as to forbid alike analysis and numeration. Human minds fail to
measure, or to arrange in order, the Lord's ways and thoughts; and it must
always be so, for he hath said, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so
are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." No maze
to lose oneself in like the labyrinth of love. How sweet to be outdone, overcome
and overwhelmed by the astonishing grace of the Lord our God! If I would
declare and speak of them, and surely this should be the occupation of my
tongue at all seasonable opportunities, they are more than can be
numbered; far beyond all human arithmetic they are multiplied; thoughts from
all eternity, thoughts of my fall, my restoration, my redemption, my conversion,
my pardon, my upholding, my perfecting, my eternal reward; the list is too long
for writing, and the value of the mercies too great for estimation. Yet, if we
cannot show forth all the works of the Lord, let us not make this an excuse for
silence; for our Lord, who is in this our best example, often spake of the
tender thoughts of the great Father.
Verse 6. Here we enter upon one of the most wonderful
passages in the whole of the Old Testament, a passage in which the incarnate Son
of God is seen not through a glass darkly, but as it were face to face.
Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire. In themselves considered,
and for their own sakes, the Lord saw nothing satisfactory in the various
offerings of the ceremonial law. Neither the victim pouring forth its blood, nor
the fine flour rising in smoke from the altar, could yield content to Jehovah's
mind; he cared not for the flesh of bulls or of goats, neither had he pleasure
in corn and wine, and oil. Typically these offerings had their worth, but when
Jesus, the Antitype, came into the world, they ceased to be of value, as candles
are of no estimation when the sun has arisen. Mine ears hast thou
opened. Our Lord was quick to hear and perform his Father's will; his ears
were as if excavated down to his soul; they were not closed up like Isaac's
wells, which the Philistines filled up, but clear passages down to the fountains
of his soul. The prompt obedience of our Lord is here the first idea. There is,
however, no reason whatever to reject the notion that the digging of the ear
here intended may refer to the boring of the ear of the servant, who refused out
of love to his master to take his liberty, at the year of jubilee; his
perforated ear, the token of perpetual service, is a true picture of our blessed
Lord's fidelity to his Father's business, and his love to his Father's children.
Jesus irrevocably gave himself up to be the servant of servants for our sake and
God's glory. The Septuagint, from which Paul quoted, has translated this
passage, "A body hast thou prepared me:" how this reading arose it is not easy
to imagine, but since apostolical authority has sanctioned the variation, we
accept it as no mistake, but as an instance of various readings equally
inspired. In any case, the passage represents the Only Begotten as coming into
the world equipped for service; and in a real and material body, by actual life
and death, putting aside all the shadows of the Mosaic law. Burnt offering
and sin offering hast thou not required. Two other forms of offerings
are here mentioned; tokens of gratitude and sacrifices for sin as typically
presented are set aside; neither the general nor the private offerings are any
longer demanded. What need of mere emblems when the substance itself is present?
We learn from this verse that Jehovah values far more the obedience of the heart
than all the imposing performances of ritualistic worship; and that our
expiation from sin comes not to us as the result of an elaborate ceremonial, but
as the effect of our great Substitute's obedience to the will of Jehovah.
Verse 7. Then said I. That is to say, when it was clearly
seen that man's misery could not be remedied by sacrifices and offerings. It
being certain that the mere images of atonement, and the bare symbols of
propitiation were of no avail, the Lord Jesus, in propria persona,
intervened. O blessed "then said I." Lord, ever give us to hear and feed on such
living words as these, so peculiarly and personally thine own. Lo, I
come. Behold, O heavens, and thou earth, and ye places under the earth! Here
is something worthy of your most intense gaze. Sit ye down and watch with
earnestness, for the invisible God comes in the likeness of sinful flesh, and as
an infant the Infinite hangs at a virgin's breast! Immanuel did not send but
come; he came in his own personality, in all that constituted his
essential self he came forth from the ivory palaces to the abodes of misery; he
came promptly at the destined hour; he came with sacred alacrity as one freely
offering himself. In the volume of the book it is written of me.
In the eternal decree it is thus recorded. The mystic roll of predestination
which providence gradually unfolds, contained within it, to the Saviour's
knowledge, a written covenant, that in the fulness of time the divine I should
descend to earth to accomplish a purpose which hecatombs of bullocks and rams
could not achieve. What a privilege to find our names written in the book of
life, and what an honour, since the name of Jesus heads the page! Our Lord had
respect to his ancient covenant engagements, and herein he teaches us to be
scrupulously just in keeping our word; have we so promised, it is so written in
the book of remembrance? then let us never be defaulters.
Verse 8. I delight to do thy will, O my God. Our blessed
Lord alone could completely do the will of God. The law is too broad for such
poor creatures as we are to hope to fulfil it to the uttermost: but Jesus not
only did the Father's will, but found a delight therein; from old eternity he
had desired the work set before him; in his human life he was straitened till he
reached the baptism of agony in which he magnified the law, and even in
Gethsemane itself he chose the Father's will, and set aside his own. Herein is
the essence of obedience, namely, in the soul's cheerful devotion to God: and
our Lord's obedience, which is our righteousness, is in no measure lacking in
this eminent quality. Notwithstanding his measureless griefs, our Lord found
delight in his work, and for "the joy that was set before him he endured the
cross, despising the shame." Yea, thy law is within my heart. No
outward, formal devotion was rendered by Christ; his heart was in his work,
holiness was his element, the Father's will his meat and drink. We must each of
us be like our Lord in this, or we shall lack the evidence of being his
disciples. Where there is no heart work, no pleasure, no delight in God's law,
there can be no acceptance. Let the devout reader adore the Saviour for the
spontaneous and hearty manner in which he undertook the great work of our
Verse 9. I have preached righteousness in the great
congregation. The purest morality and the highest holiness were preached by
Jesus. Righteousness divine was his theme. Our Lord's whole life was a sermon,
eloquent beyond compare, and it is heard each day by myriads. Moreover, he never
shunned in his ministry to declare the whole counsel of God; God's great plan of
righteousness he plainly set forth. He taught openly in the temple, and was not
ashamed to be a faithful and a true witness. He was the great evangelist; the
master of itinerant preachers; the head of the clan of open air missionaries. O
servants of the Lord, hide not your lights, but reveal to others what your God
has revealed to you; and especially by your lives testify for holiness, be
champions for the right, both in word and deed. Lo, I have not refrained my
lips, O Lord, thou knowest. Never either from love of ease, of fear of men,
did the Great Teacher's lips become closed. He was instant in season and out of
season. The poor listened to him, and princes heard his rebuke; Publicans
rejoiced at him, and Pharisees raged, but to them both he proclaimed the truth
from heaven. It is well for a tried believer when he can appeal to God and call
him to witness that he has not been ashamed to bear witness for him; for rest
assured if we are not ashamed to confess our God, he will never be ashamed to
own us. Yet what a wonder is here, that the Son of God should plead, just as we
plead, and urge just such arguments as would befit the mouths of his diligent
minsters! How truly is he "made like unto his brethren."
Verse 10. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart.
On the contrary, "Never man spake like this man." God's divine plan of making
men righteous was well known to him, and he plainly taught it. What was in our
great Master's heart he poured forth in holy eloquence from his lips. The
doctrine of righteousness by faith he spake with great simplicity of speech. Law
and gospel equally found in him a clear expositor. I have declared thy
faithfulness and thy salvation. Jehovah's fidelity to his promises
and his grace in saving believers were declared by the Lord Jesus on many
occasions, and are blessedly blended in the gospel which he came to preach. God,
faithful to his own character, law and threatenings, and yet saving sinners, is
a peculiar revelation of the gospel. God faithful to the saved ones evermore is
the joy of the followers of Christ Jesus. I have not concealed thy
lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation. The tender
as well as the stern attributes of God, our Lord Jesus fully unveiled.
Concealment was far from the Great Apostle of our profession. Cowardice he never
exhibited, hesitancy never weakened his language. He who as a child of twelve
years spake in the temple among the doctors, and afterward preached to five
thousand at Gennesaret, and to the vast crowds at Jerusalem on that great day,
the last day of the feast, was always ready to proclaim the name of the Lord,
and could never be charged with unholy silence. He could be dumb when so the
prophecy demanded and patience suggested, but otherwise, preaching was his meat
and his drink, and he kept back nothing which would be profitable to his
disciples. This in the day of his trouble, according to this Psalm, he used as a
plea for divine aid. He had been faithful to his God, and now begs the Lord to
be faithful to him. Let every dumb professor, tongue tied by sinful shame,
bethink himself how little he will be able to plead after this fashion in the
day of his distress.
Verse 11. Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O
Lord. Alas! these were to be for awhile withheld from our Lord while on the
accursed tree, but meanwhile in his great agony he seeks for gentle dealing; and
the coming of the angel to strengthen him was a clear answer to his prayer. He
had been blessed aforetime in the desert, and now at the entrance of the valley
of the shadow of death, like a true, trustful, and experienced man, he utters a
holy, plaintive desire for the tenderness of heaven. He had not withheld his
testimony to God's truth, now in return he begs his Father not to withhold his
compassion. This verse might more correctly be read as a declaration of his
confidence that help would not be refused; but whether we view this utterance as
the cry of prayer, or the avowal of faith, in either case it is instructive to
us who take our suffering Lord for an example, and it proves to us how
thoroughly he was made like unto his brethren. Let thy lovingkindness and thy
truth continually preserve me. He had preached both of these, and now
he asks for an experience of them, that he might be kept in the evil day and
rescued from his enemies and his afflictions. Nothing endears our Lord to us
more than to hear him thus pleading with strong crying and tears to him who was
able to save. O Lord Jesus, in our nights of wrestling we will remember thee.
Verse 12. For innumerable evils have compassed me about. On
every side he was beset with evils; countless woes environed the great
Substitute for our sins. Our sins were innumerable, and so were his griefs.
There was no escape for us from our iniquities, and there was no escape for him
from the woes which we deserved. From every quarter evils accumulated about the
blessed One, although in his heart evil found no place. Mine iniquities have
taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up. He had no sin,
but sins were laid on him, and he took them as if they were his. "He was made
sin for us." The transfer of sin to the Saviour was real, and produced in him as
man the horror which forbade him to look into the face of God, bowing him down
with crushing anguish and woe intolerable. O my soul, what would thy sins have
done for thee eternally if the Friend of sinners had not condescended to take
them all upon himself? Oh, blessed Scripture! "The Lord hath made to meet upon
him the iniquity of us all." Oh, marvellous depth of love, which could lead the
perfectly immaculate to stand in the sinner's place, and bear the horror of
great trembling which sin must bring upon those conscious of it. They are
more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me. The
pains of the divine penalty were beyond compute, and the Saviour's soul was so
burdened with them, that he was sore amazed, and very heavy even unto a sweat of
blood. His strength was gone, his spirits sank, he was in an agony.
Verse 13. Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me: O Lord, make haste
to help me. How touching! How humble! How plaintive! The words thrill
us as we think that after this sort our Lord and Master prayed. His petition is
not so much that the cup should pass away undrained, but that he should be
sustained while drinking it, and set free from its power at the first fitting
moment. He seeks deliverance and help; and he entreats that the help may not be
slow in coming; this is after the manner of our pleadings. Is it not? Note,
reader, how our Lord was heard in that he feared, for there was after Gethsemane
a calm endurance which made the fight as glorious as the victory.
Verse 14. Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek
after my soul to destroy it. Whether we read this as a prayer or a
prophecy it matters not, for the powers of sin, and death, and hell, may well be
ashamed as they see the result of their malice for ever turned against
themselves. It is to the infinite confusion of Satan that his attempts to
destroy the Saviour destroyed himself; the diabolical conclave who plotted in
council are now all alike put to shame, for the Lord Jesus has met them at all
points, and turned all their wisdom into foolishness. Let them be driven
backward and put to shame that wish me evil. It is even so; the hosts
of darkness are utterly put to the rout, and made a theme for holy derision for
ever and ever. How did they gloat over the thought of crushing the seed of the
woman! but the Crucified has conquered, the Nazarene has laughed them to scorn,
the dying Son of Man has become the death of death and hell's destruction. For
ever blessed be his name.
Verse 15. Let them be desolate, or amazed; even as Jesus was
desolate in his agony, so let his enemies be in their despair when he defeats
them. The desolation caused in the hearts of evil spirits and evil men by envy,
malice, chagrin, disappointment, and despair, shall be a fit recompense for
their cruelty to the Lord when he was in their hands. For a reward of their
shame that say unto me, Aha, aha. Did the foul fiend insult over our Lord?
Behold how shame is now his reward! Do wicked men today pour shame upon the name
of the Redeemer? Their desolation shall avenge him of his adversaries! Jesus is
the gentle Lamb to all who seek mercy through his blood; but let despisers
beware, for he is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and "who shall rouse him up?"
The Jewish rulers exulted and scornfully said, "Aha, aha; "but when the streets
of Jerusalem ran like rivers deep with gore, "and the temple was utterly
consumed, "then their house was left unto them desolate, and the blood of the
last of the prophets, according to their own desire, came upon themselves and
upon their children. O ungodly reader, if such a person glance over this page,
beware of persecuting Christ and his people, for God will surely avenge his own
elect. Your "ahas" will cost you dear. It is hard for you to kick against the
Verse 16. Let all those that seek thee, rejoice and be glad
in thee. We have done with Ebal and turn to Gerizim. Here our Lord
pronounces benedictions on his people. Note who the blessed objects of his
petition are: not all men, but some men, "I pray for them, I pray not for the
world." He pleads for seekers: the lowest in the kingdom, the babes of the
family; those who have true desires, longing prayers, and consistent endeavours
after God. Let seeking souls pluck up heart when they hear of this. What riches
of grace, that in his bitterest hour Jesus should remember the lambs of the
flock! And what does he entreat for them? it is that they may be doubly glad,
intensely happy, emphatically joyful, for such the repetition of terms implies.
Jesus would have all seekers made happy, by finding what they seek after, and by
winning peace through his grief. As deep as were his sorrows, so high would he
have their joys. He groaned that we might sing, and was covered with a bloody
sweat that we might be anointed with the oil of gladness. Let such as love
thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified. Another result
of the Redeemer's passion is the promotion of the glory of God by those who
gratefully delight in his salvation. Our Lord's desire should be our directory;
we love with all our hearts his great salvation, let us then, with all our
tongues proclaim the glory of God which is resplendent therein. Never let his
praises cease. As the heart is warm with gladness let it incite the tongue to
perpetual praise. If we cannot do what we would for the spread of the kingdom,
at least let us desire and pray for it. Be it ours to make God's glory the chief
end of every breath and pulse. The suffering Redeemer regarded the consecration
of his people to the service of heaven as a grand result of his atoning death;
it is the joy which was set before him; that God is glorified as the reward of
the Saviour's travail.
Verse 17. But I am poor and needy. The man of sorrows closes
with another appeal, based upon his affliction and poverty. Yet the
Lord thinketh upon me. Sweet was this solace to the holy heart of the
great sufferer. The Lord's thoughts of us are a cheering subject of meditation,
for they are ever kind and never cease. His disciples forsook him, and his
friends forgat him, but Jesus knew that Jehovah never turned away his heart from
him, and this upheld him in the hour of need. Thou art my help and my
deliverer. His unmoved confidence stayed itself alone on God. O that all
believers would imitate more fully their great Apostle and High Priest in his
firm reliance upon God, even when afflictions abounded and the light was veiled.
Make no tarrying, O my God. The peril was imminent, the need urgent, the
suppliant could not endure delay, nor was he made to wait, for the angel came to
strengthen, and the brave heart of Jesus rose up to meet the foe. Lord Jesus,
grant that in all our adversities we may possess like precious faith, and be
found like thee, more than conquerors.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. David's Psalm, or, a Psalm of
David;but David's name is here set first, which elsewhere commonly is last:
or A Psalm concerning David, that is Christ, who is called
David in the prophets: Ho 3:5 Jer 30:9 Eze 34:23 32:24. Of him this Psalm
entreateth as the apostle teacheth, Heb 10:5-6, etc. Henry Ainsworth.
Whole Psalm. It is plain, from Ps 40:6-8 of this Psalm,
compared with Heb 10:5, that the prophet in speaking in the person of Christ,
who, Ps 40:1-5, celebrates the deliverance wrought for his mystical body, the
church, by his resurrection from the grave, effecting that of his members from
the guilt and dominion of sin; for the abolition of which he declareth, Ps
40:6-8, the inefficacy of the legal sacrifices, and mentions his own inclination
to do the will of his Father, and Ps 40:9-10, to preach righteousness to the
world. Ps 40:11-13. He represents himself as praying, while under his
sufferings, for his own, and his people's salvation; he foretells, Ps 40:14-15,
the confusion and desolation of his enemies, and, Ps 40:16, the joy and
thankfulness of his disciples and servants; for the speedy accomplishment of
which, Ps 40:17, he prefers a petition. George Horne.
Verse 1. I waited patiently for the Lord: and he inclined unto
me, and heard my cry. I see that the Lord, suppose he drifts and
delays the effect of his servant's prayer, and grants not his desire at the
first, yet he hears him. I shall give a certain argument, whereby thou may know
that the Lord heareth thee, suppose he delay the effect of thy prayers. Do you
continue in prayer? Hast thou his strength given thee to persevere in suiting
(petitioning for or praying for) anything? Thou may be assured he heareth; for
this is one sure argument that he heareth thee, for naturally our impatience
carrieth us to desperation; our suddenness is so great, specially in spiritual
troubles, that we cannot continue in suiting. When thou, therefore, continues in
suiting, thou may be sure that this strength is furnished of God, and cometh
from heaven, and if thou have strength, he letteth thee see that he heareth thy
prayer; and suppose he delay the effect and force thereof, yet pray continually.
This doctrine is so necessary for the troubled conscience, that I think it is
the meetest bridle in the Scripture to refrain our impatience; it is the meetest
bit to hold us in continual exercise of patience; for if the heart understand
that the Lord hath rejected our prayer altogether, it is not possible to
continue in prayer; so when we know that the Lord heareth us, suppose he delay,
let us crave patience to abide his good will. Robert Bruce, 1559-1631.
Verse 1. I waited for the Lord. The infinitive (hwq) being placed first brings the action strongly
out: I waited. This strong emphasis on the waiting, has the force of an
admonition; it suggests to the sufferer that everything depends on
waiting. E. W. Hengstenberg.
Verse 1. I waited patiently: rather anxiously; the
original has it, waiting I waited; a Hebraism which signifies vehement
solicitude. Daniel Cresswell.
Verse 1. I waited. The Saviour endureth his sufferings
waitingly, as well as patiently and prayerfully. He "waited for the
Lord." He expected help from Jehovah; and he waited for it until it came.
James Frame, in "Christ and his Work: an Exposition of Psalm 40." 1869.
Verse 1. Patiently. Our Lord's patience under suffering was
an element of perfection in his work. Had he become impatient as we often do,
and lost heart, his atonement would have been vitiated. Well may we rejoice that
in the midst of all his temptations, and in the thickest of the battle against
sin and Satan, he remained patient and willing to finish the work which his
Father had given him to do. James Frame.
Verse 1. Heard my cry. Our Saviour endured his sufferings
prayerfully as well as patiently. James Frame.
Verse 2. An horrible pit. Some of the pits referred to in
the Bible were prisons, one such I saw at Athens, and another at Rome. To these
there were no openings, except a hole at the top, which served for both door and
window. The bottoms of these pits were necessarily in a filthy and revolting
state, and sometimes deep in mud. He brought me up also out of an
horrible pit, out of the miry clay; one of these filthy prisons being in the
psalmist's view, in Isa 38:17, called "the pit of corruption, "or putrefaction
and filth. John Gadsby.
Verse 2. An horrible pit; or, as it is in the Hebrew, a
pit of noise; so called because of waters that falling into it with
great violence, make a roaring dreadful noise; or because of the strugglings and
outcries they make that are in it; or because when anything is cast into deep
pits, it will always make a great noise; and where he stuck fast in miry
clay, without seeming possibility of getting out. And some refer this to the
greatness of Christ's terrors and sufferings, and his deliverance from them
both. Arthur Jackson.
Verse 2. Three things are stated in verse two. First,
resurrection as the act of God, He brought me up, etc. Secondly, the
justification of the name and title of the Sufferer, and set my feet upon a
rock. Jesus is set up, as alive from the dead, upon the basis of
accomplished truth. Thirdly, there is his ascension, He establisheth my
goings. The Son of God having trodden, in gracious and self renouncing
obedience the passage to the grave, now enters finally as Man the path of life.
"He is gone into heaven, "says the Spirit. And again, "He ascended on high, and
led captivity captive." Arthur Pridham in "Notes and Reflections on the
Verse 3. A new song. See Notes on Ps 33:3.
Verse 3. Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the
Lord. The terms fear, and hope, or trust, do not seem
at first view to harmonise; but David has not improperly joined them together,
for no man will ever entertain the hope of the favour of God but he whose
mind is first imbued with the fear of God. I understand fear, in
general, to mean the feeling of piety which is produced in us by the knowledge
of the power, equity, and mercy of God. John Calvin.
Verse 3. Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the
Lord. First of all they see. Their eyes are opened; and their opened
eyes see and survey what they are, where they are, whence
they came, and whither they are going...When the attention of sinners is
really and decisively arrested by the propitiation of Jesus, not only are their
eyes opened to their various moral relations, not only do they "see" but they
fear too. They "see" and "fear." ...Conviction follows illumination...But
while the sinner only sees and fears, he is but in the initial stage of
conversion, only in a state of readiness to flee from the city of destruction.
He may have set out on his pilgrimage, but he has not yet reached his Father to
receive the kiss of welcome and forgiveness. The consummating step has not yet
been taken. He has seen indeed; he has feared too; but he still requires to
trust, to trust in the Lord, and banish all his fears. This is the
culminating point in the great change; and, unless this be reached, the other
experiences will either die away, like an untimely blossom, or they will only be
fuel to the unquenchable fire. James Frame.
Verse 5. Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou
hast done, etc. Behold God in the magnificence and wisdom of the
works which his hands have made, even this immense universe, which is full of
his glory. What art and contrivance! What regularity, harmony, and proportion,
are to be seen in all his productions, in the frame of our own bodies, or those
that are about us! And with what beams of majestic glory do the sun, moon, and
stars proclaim how august and wonderful in knowledge their Maker is! And ought
not all these numberless beauties wherewith the world is stored, which the minds
of inquisitive men are ready to admire, lead up our thoughts to the great Parent
of all things, and inflame our amorous souls with love to him, who is infinitely
brighter and fairer than them all? Cast abroad your eyes through the nations,
and meditate on the mighty acts which he hath done, and the wisdom and power of
his providence, which should charm all thy affections. Behold his admirable
patience, with what pity he looks down on obstinate rebels; and how he is moved
with compassion when he sees his creatures polluted in their blood, and bent
upon their own destruction; how long he waits to be gracious; how unwillingly he
appears to give up with sinners, and execute deserved vengeance on his enemies;
and then with what joy he pardons, for "with him is plenteous redemption." And
what can have more force than these to win thy esteem, and make a willing
conquest of thy heart? so that every object about thee is an argument of love,
and furnishes fuel for this sacred fire. And whether you behold God in the
firmament of his power, or the sanctuary of his grace, you cannot miss to
pronounce him "altogether lovely." William Dunlop.
Verse 5. Thy thoughts which are toward us, they cannot be
reckoned up in order unto thee: i.e., there is no one can digest them
in order; for although that may be attempted according to the comprehension and
meaning of men, yet not before thee, every attempt of that nature being
infinitely beneath thy immeasurable glory. Victorinus Bythner's "Lyre of
David; "translated by T. Dee: new edition, by N. L. Benmohel, 1847.
Verse 5. Toward us. It is worthy of notice that while
addressing his Father, as Jehovah and his God, our Saviour speaks of the members
of the human family as his fellows. This is implied in the expression "toward
us." He regarded himself as most intimately associated with the children of men.
Verse 5. They cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee. They
are "in order" in themselves, and if they could be "reckoned up" as they are,
they would be "reckoned in order." Created mind may not be able to grasp the
principle of order that pervades them, but such a principle there is. And the
more we study the whole series in its interrelations, the more shall we be
convinced that as to time and place all the preparations for the mediatorial
work of Christ, all the parts of its accomplishment, and all the divinely
appointed consequences of its acceptation throughout all time into eternity, are
faultlessly in order; they are precisely what and where and when they should be.
Verse 5. They are more than can be numbered. The pulses of
Providence are quicker than those of our wrists or temples. The soul of David
knew right well their multiplicity, but could not multiply them aright by any
skill in arithmetic; nay, the very sum or chief heads of divine kindnesses were
innumerable. His "wonderful works" and "thoughts" towards him could not be
reckoned up in order by him, they were more than could be numbered.
Samuel Lee (1625-1691), in The Triumph of Mercy in the Chariot
Verse 5. It is Christ's speech, of whom the Psalm is made,
and that relating unto his Father's resolved purposes and contrivings from
eternity, and those continued unto his sending Christ into the world to die for
us, as Ps 40:6-7. It follows so, as although his thoughts and purposes were but
one individual act at first, and never to be altered; yet they became many,
through a perpetuated reiteration of them, wherein his constancy to himself is
seen...My brethren, if God have been thinking thoughts of mercy from everlasting
to those that are his, what a stock and treasury do these thoughts arise to,
besides those that are in his nature and disposition! This is in his actual
purposes and intentions, which he hath thought, and doth think over, again and
again, every moment. Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works
which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are toward us, saith
Jesus Christ; for Psalm 40 is a Psalm of Christ, and quoted by the apostle, and
applied unto Christ in Hebrews 10, How many are thy thoughts toward us!
--he speaks it in the name of the human nature--that is, to me and mine. If
I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be
numbered. And what is the reason? Because God hath studied mercies,
mercies for his children, even from everlasting. And then, "He renews his
mercies every morning; "not that any mercies are new, but he actually thinketh
over mercies again and again, and so he brings out of his treasury, mercies both
new and old, and old are always new. What a stock, my brethren, must this needs
amount unto! Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 6. Sacrifice and offering...burnt offering and sin
offering. Four kinds are here specified, both by the psalmist and
apostle: namely, sacrifice (xbz)
zebhach, yusia; offering, (hxnm)
minchah, prosfora; burnt offering, (hlwe) olah, olokautwma; sin offering, (hajx) chataah, peri amartias. Of all these we
may say with the apostle, it was impossible that the blood of bulls and goats,
etc., should take away sin. Adam Clarke.
Verse 6. Mine ears hast thou opened. The literal translation
is, mine ears hast thou digged (or pierced) through; which may
well be interpreted as meaning, "Thou hast accepted me as thy slave, " in
allusion to the custom Ex 21:6 of masters boring the ear of a slave, who had
refused his offered freedom, in token of retaining him. Daniel Cresswell.
Verse 6. John Calvin, in treating upon the interpretation,
"mine ears hast thou bored, "says, "this mode of interpretation appears to be
too forced and refined."
Verse 6. Mine ears hast thou opened. If it is to be said
that the apostle to the Hebrews read this differently, I answer, this does not
appear to me. It is true, he found a different, but corrupted translation
(wtia, ears, as the learned have observed, having been changed into
swma, body) in the LXX, which was the version then in use; and he was
obliged to quote it as he found it, under the penalty, if he altered it, of
being deemed a false quoter. He therefore took the translation as he found it,
especially as it served to illustrate his argument equally well. Upon this
quotation from the LXX the apostle argues, Ps 40:9, "He, (Christ) taketh away
the first (namely, legal sacrifices), that he may establish the second" (namely,
obedience to God's will), in offering himself a sacrifice for the sins of
mankind; and thus he must have argued upon a quotation for the Hebrew text as it
stands at present. Green, quoted in S. Burder's "Scripture Expositor."
Verse 6. The apostle's reading Heb 10:5, though it be far
distant from the letter of the Hebrew, and in part from the LXX (as I suppose it
to have been originally), yet is the most perspicuous interpretation of the
meaning of it: Christ's body comprehended the ears, and that
assumed on purpose to perform in it the utmost degree of obedience to the will
of God, to be obedient even to death, and thereby to be as the priest. Henry
Nor sacrifice thy love can win,
Nor offerings from the stain of sin
Obnoxious man shall clear:
Thy hand my mortal frame prepares,
(Thy hand, whose signature it bears,)
And opens my willing ear.
--James Merrick, M.A.,
Verses 6-7. In these words an allusion is made to a custom of
the Jews to bore the ears of such as were to be their perpetual servants,
and to enrol their names in a book, or make some instrument of the
covenant. "Sacrifices and burnt offerings thou wouldst not have; "but because I
am thy vowed servant, bored with an awl, and enrolled in thy book, I said,
Lo, I come; I delight to do thy will, O my God. These words of the
Psalm are alleged by S. Paul, Hebrews 10. But the first of them with a most
strange difference. For whereas the psalmist hath, according to the Hebrew
verity, Sacrifice and burnt offering thou wouldst not: mine ears thou
hast bored or digged, (tyrn); S. Paul
reads with the LXX, swma kathrtisw
moi, "A body thou hast prepared or fitted me." What
equipollency can be in sense between these two? This difficulty is so much the
more augmented because most interpreters make the life of the quotation to lie
in those very words where the difference is, namely, That the words, "A body
thou hast prepared me, "are brought by the apostle to prove our Saviour's
incarnation; whereunto the words in the Psalm itself (Mine ears hast thou
bored, or digged, or opened), take them how you will in no
wise suit. I answer, therefore, That the life of the quotation lies not in the
words of difference, nor can do, because this epistle was written to the
Hebrews, and so first in the Hebrew tongue, where this translation of the LXX
could have no place. And if the life of the quotation lay here, I cannot see how
it can possibly be reconciled. It lies therefore in the words where there is no
difference, namely, That Christ was such a High Priest as came to sanctify us,
not with the legal offerings and sacrifices, but by his obedience in doing like
a devoted servant the will of his Father. Thus, the allegation will not depend
at all upon the words of difference, and so they give us liberty to reconcile
them: Mine ears hast thou bored, saith the psalmist, i.e., Thou
hast accepted me for a perpetual servant, as masters are wont, according to the
law, to bore such servants' ears as refuse to part from them. Now
the LXX, according to whom the apostle's epistle readeth, thinking perhaps the
meaning of this speech would be obscure to such as knew not that custom, chose
rather to translate it generally swma de
katertisw moi, "Thou hast fitted my body, "namely, to be thy
servant, in such a manner as servants' bodies are wont to be. And so the sense
is all one, though not specified to the Jewish custom of boring the ear with an
awl, but left indifferently applicable to the custom of any nation in marking
and stigmatising their servants' bodies. Joseph Mede, B.D., 1586-1638.
Verses 6-10. Here we have in Christ for our instruction, and
in David also (his type) for our example; 1. A firm purpose of obedience, in a
bored ear, and a yielding heart. 2. A ready performance thereof: Lo, I
come. 3. A careful observance of the word written: In the volume of the
Book it is written of me, Ps 40:7. 4. A hearty delight in that observance,
Ps 40:8. 5. A public profession and communication of God's goodness to
others, Ps 40:9-10. Now, we should labour to express Christ to the world, to
walk as he walked 1Jo 2:6: our lives should be in some sense parallel with his
life, as the transcript with the original: he left us a copy to write by, saith
St. Peter, 1Pe 2:21. John Trapp.
Verse 7. Then said I, Lo, I come. As his name is above every
name, so this coming of his is above every coming. We sometimes call our own
births, I confess, a coming into the world; but properly, none ever came into
the world but he. For, 1. He only truly can be said to come, who is before he
comes; so were not we, only he so. 2. He only strictly comes who comes
willingly; our crying and struggling at our entrance into the world, shows how
unwillingly we come into it. He alone it is that sings out, Lo, I come.
3. He only properly comes who comes from some place or other. Alas! we had none
to come from but the womb of nothing. He only had a place to be in before
he came. Mark Frank.
Verse 7. Then said I, Lo, I come, to wit, as surety, to pay
the ransom, and to do thy will, O God. Every word carrieth a special emphasis as
1. The time, then, even so soon as he perceived that his Father had
prepared his body for such an end, then, without delay. This speed implies
forwardness and readiness; he would lose no opportunity. 2. His profession in
this word, said I; he did not closely, secretly, timorously, as being
ashamed thereof, but he maketh profession beforehand. 3. This note of
observation, Lo, this is a kind of calling angels and men to witness, and
a desire that all might know his inward intention, and the disposition of his
heart; wherein was as great a willingness as any could have to anything. 4. An
offering of himself without any enforcement or compulsion; this he manifests in
this word, I come. 5. That very instant set out in the present tense,
I come; he puts it not off to a future and uncertain time, but even in
that moment, he saith, I come. 6. The first person twice expressed, thus,
"I said, ""I come." He sends not another person, nor substitutes any in
his room; but he, even he himself in his own person, comes. All which do
abundantly evidence Christ's singular readiness and willingness, as our surety,
to do his Father's will, though it were by suffering, and by being made a
sacrifice for our sins. Thomas Brooks.
Verse 7. Lo, I come, i.e., to appear before thee; a phrase
used to indicate the coming of an inferior into the presence of a superior, or
of a slave before his master, Nu 22:38 2Sa 19:20: as in the similar expression,
"Behold, here I am, "generally expressive of willingness. J. J. Stewart
Verse 7. Lo, I come. Christ's coming in the spirit is a
joyful coming. I think this, Lo, I come, expresses 1.
Present joy. 2. It expresses certain joy: the Lo, is a note of
certainty; the thing is certain and true; and his joy is certain; certain, true,
solid joy. 3. It expresses communicative joy; designing his people shall
share of his joy, Lo, I come! The joy that Christ has as Mediator is a
fulness of joy, designed for his people's use, that out of his fulness we may
receive, and grace for grace, and joy for joy; grace answering grace
in Jesus, and joy answering joy in him. 4. It expresses solemn joy. He
comes with a solemnity; Lo, I come! according to the council of a
glorious Trinity. Now, when the purpose of heaven is come to the birth, and the
decree breaks forth, and the fulness of time is come, he makes heaven and earth
witness, as it were, to his solemn march on the errand: he says it with a loud,
Lo! that all the world of men and angels may notice, Lo, I come!
And, indeed, all the elect angels brake forth into joyful songs of praise at
this solemnity; when he came in the flesh, they sang, "Glory to God in the
highest, peace on earth, and good will towards man." Ralph Erskine,
Verse 7. Lo, I come, or, am come, to wit, into the
world Heb 10:5, and particularly to Jerusalem, to give myself a
sacrifice for sin. Henry Ainsworth.
Verse 7. The volume of the book. What book is meant, whether
the Scripture, or the book of life, is not certain, probably the latter. W.
Verse 7. The volume of the book. But what volume of
manuscript roll is here meant? Plainly, the one which was already extant when
the psalmist was writing. If the psalmist was David himself (as the title of the
Psalm seems to affirm), the only parts of the Hebrew Scriptures then extant, and
of course, the only part to which he could refer, must have been the Pentateuch,
and perhaps the book of Joshua. Beyond any reasonable doubt, them, the kefalis biblion (rpo tlnm) was the Pentateuch...But I apprehend the meaning of the
writer to be, that the book of the law, which prescribes sacrifices that
were merely skiai or parabolai of the great atoning sacrifice by
Christ, did itself teach, by the use of these, that something of a higher and
better nature was to be looked for than Levitical rites. In a word, it pointed
to the Messiah; or, some of the contents of the written law had respect
to him. Moses Stuart, M.A., in "A Commentary on the Epistle to the
Verse 7. The volume of the book etc. When I first considered
Ro 5:14, and other Scriptures in the New Testament which make the first Adam,
and the whole story of him both before and after, and in his sinning or falling,
to be the type and lively shadow of Christ, the second Adam; likewise observing
that the apostle Paul stands admiring at the greatest of this mystery or
mystical type, the Christ, the second Adam should so wonderfully be shadowed
forth therein, as Eph 5:32, he cries out, "This is a great mystery, "which he
speaks applying and fitting some passages about Adam and Eve unto Christ and his
church; it made me more to consider an interpretation of a passage in Heb 10:7,
out of Ps 40:7, which I before had not only not regarded, but wholly rejected,
as being too like a postil (A marginal note) gloss. The passage is, that "when
Christ came into the world, "to take our nature on him, he alleged the reason of
it to be the fulfilling of a Scripture written in "the beginning of God's book,
"en kefalisi Biblion, so out of the
original the words may be, and are by many interpreters, translated, though our
translation reads them only thus, In the volume of the book it is written
of me. It is true, indeed, that in the fortieth Psalm, whence they
are quoted, the words in the Hebrew may signify no more than that in God's book
(the manner of writing which was anciently in rolls of parchment, folded up in a
volume) Christ was everywhere written and spoken of. Yet the word kefalis which out of the Septuagint's translation the
apostle took, signifying, as all know, the beginning of a book; and we finding
such an emphasis set by the apostle in the fifth chapter of the Ephesians, upon
the history of Adam in the beginning of Genesis, as containing the mystery, yea,
the great mystery about Christ, it did somewhat induce, though not so fully
persuade, me to think, that the Holy Ghost in those words might have some glance
at the story of Adam in the first of the first book of Moses. And withal the
rather because so, the words so understood do intimate a higher and further
inducement to Christ to assume our nature, the scope of the speech, Hebrews 10,
being to render the reason why he so willingly took man's nature: not only
because God liked not sacrifice and burnt offering, which came in but upon
occasion of sin, and after the fall, and could not take sin away, but further,
that he was prophesied of, and his assuming a body prophetically foresighted, as
in the fortieth Psalm, so even by Adam's story before the fall, recorded in the
very beginning of Genesis, which many other Scriptures do expressly apply it
unto. Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 10. I have not hid. This intimates, that whoever
undertook to preach the gospel of Christ would be in great temptation to hide
it, and conceal it, because it must be preached with great contention, and in
the face of great opposition. Matthew Henry.
Verse 10. I have not hid, etc. What God has done for us, or
for the church, we should lay to heart; but not lock up in our
heart. Carl Bernhard Moll in Lange's "Bibelwerk." 1869.
Verse 11. Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me. Do
not hinder them from coming showering down upon me. Let thy
lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me; or, do thou employ
them in preserving me. John Diodati.
Verse 12. 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. We lose ourselves when
we speak of the sins of our lives. It may astonish any considering man to take
notice how many sins he is guilty of any one day; how many sins accompany any
one single act; nay, how many bewray themselves in any one religious duty.
Whensoever ye do anything forbidden, you omit the duty at that time commanded;
and whenever you neglect that which is enjoined, the omission is joined with the
acting of something forbidden; so that the sin, whether omission or commission,
is always double; nay, the apostle makes every sin tenfold. Jas 2:10. That which
seems one to us, according to the sense of the law, and the account of God, is
multiplied by ten. He breaks every command by sinning directly against one, and
so sins ten times at once; besides that swarm of sinful circumstances and
aggravations which surround every act in such numbers, as atoms use to surround
your body in a dusty room; you may more easily number these than those. And
though some count these but fractions, incomplete sins, yet even from hence it
is more difficult to take an account of their number. And, which is more for
astonishment, pick out the best religious duty that ever you performed, and even
in that performance you may find such a swarm of sins as cannot be numbered. In
the best prayer that ever you put up to God, irreverence, lukewarmness,
unbelief, spiritual pride, self seeking, hypocrisy, distractions, etc., and many
more, that an enlightened soul grieves and bewails; and yet there are many more
that the pure eye of God discerns, than any man does take notice of. David
Verse 12. Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me. They
seized him as the sinner's substitute, to deal with him as regards their own
penalty, according to the sinner's desert. James Frame.
Verse 13. The remaining verses of this Psalm are almost
exactly identical with Psalm 70.
Verse 14. Let them be ashamed and confounded, etc. Even this
prayer carried benevolence in its bosom. It sought from the divine Father, such
a manifestation of what was glorious and like God as might unnerve each rebel
arm, and overawe each rebel heart in the traitor's company. If each arm were for
a little unnerved, if each heart were for a little unmanned, there might be time
for the better principles of their nature to rise and put an arrest upon the
prosecution of their wicked design. Such being the benevolent aim of the prayer,
we need not wonder that it issued from the same heart that by and by exclaimed,
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do; "neither need we marvel
that it was answered to the very letter, and that as soon as he said to the
traitor band, "I am he, " they went backward and fell to the ground. James
Verse 15. Aha, aha. An exclamation which occurs three times
in the Psalms; and in each case there seems to be reference to the mockery at
the Passion. See Ps 35:21 70:3, which appear to belong to the same time as the
present Psalm. Christopher Wordsworth.
Verse 16. Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in
thee. As every mercy to every believer giveth a proof of God's readiness to
show the like mercy to all believers, when they stand in need; so should every
mercy shown to any of the number, being known to the rest, be made the matter
and occasion of magnifying the Lord. David Dickson.
Verse 16. Such as love thy salvation. To love God's
salvation is to love God himself, the Saviour, or Jesus. Martin Geier.
Verse 16. Such as love thy salvation. One would think that
self love alone should make us love salvation. Aye, but they love it because it
is his, "that love thy salvation." It is the character of a holy saint to
love salvation itself; not as his own only, but as God's, as God's that saves
him. Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 16. Let such as love thy salvation say continually, The
Lord be magnified. Jesus who gave us our capacity of happiness and
our capacity of speaking, realised the relation which he had established between
them; and hence in praying for his friends, he prayed that in the joy and
gladness of their souls they might say, "The Lord be magnified." He
desired them to speak of their holy happiness; and it was his wish that when
they did speak of it they should speak in terms of praise of Jehovah, for he was
the source of it. He desired them to say continually, The Lord be
magnified. James Frame.
Verse 17. In Dr. Malan's memoir, the editor, one of his
sons, thus writes of his brother Jocelyn, who was for some years prior to his
death, the subject of intense bodily sufferings: --"One striking feature in his
character was his holy fear of God, and reverence for his will." One day I was
repeating a verse from the Psalms, `As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the Lord careth for me: thou art my helper and deliverer; O Lord,
make no long tarrying.' He said, `Mamma, I love that verse, all but the last
bit, it looks like a murmur against God. He never `tarries' in my case.' From
"The Life, Labours, and Writings of Caesar Malan" (1787-1864): By one of
his sons, 1869.
Verse 17. Yet the Lord thinketh upon me. Sacred story
derives from heaven the kindness of Abimelech to Abraham, of Laban and Esau to
Jacob, of Ruth to Naomi, of Boaz to Ruth, and Jonathan to David. When others
think of kindness to us, let us imitate David, it is the Lord that thinketh upon
me, and forms those thoughts within their hearts. This should calm our spirits
when a former friend's heart is alienated by rash admissions of false
suggestions, or when any faithful Jonathan expires his spirit into the bosom of
God. It should not be lost what Hobson, the late noted carrier of Cambridge,
said to a young student receiving a letter of the sad tidings of his uncle's
decease (who maintained him at the University), and weeping bitterly, and
reciting the cause of his grief, he replied, Who gave you that friend?
Which saying did greatly comfort him, and was a sweet support to him afterwards
in his ministry. The Ever living God is the portion of a living faith, and
he can never want that hath such an ocean. He that turns the
hearts of kings like rivers at his pleasure, turns all the little brooks in the
world into what scorched and parched ground he pleases. Samuel Lee.
Verse 17. The Lord thinketh upon me. There are three things
in God's thinking upon us, that are solacing and delightful. Observe the
frequency of his thoughts. Indeed, they are incessant. You have a friend,
whom you esteem and love. You wish to live in his mind. You say when you part,
and when you write, "Think of me." You give him, perhaps, a token to revive his
remembrance. How naturally is Selkirk, in his solitary island, made to say: --
"My friends, do they now and then send
A wish or a thought after me?
O tell me, I yet have a friend,
Though a friend I am never to see."
"Ye winds, that have made me your sport,
Convey to this desolate shore
Some cordial, endearing report
Of a land I shall visit no more."
But the dearest connexion in the world cannot be always
thinking upon you. Half his time he is in a state of unconsciousness; and how
much during the other half is he engrossed! But there is no remission in the
Lord's thoughts...Observe in the next place, the wisdom of his thoughts.
You have a dear child, absent from you, and you follow him in your mind. But you
know not his present circumstances. You left him in such a place; but where is
he now? You left him in such a condition. But what is he now? Perhaps while you
are thinking upon his health, he is groaning under a bruised limb, or a painful
disorder. Perhaps, while you are thinking of his safety, some enemy is taking
advantage of his innocency. Perhaps, while you are rejoicing in his prudence, he
is going to take a step that will involve him for life. But when God thinketh
upon you, he is perfectly acquainted with your situation, your dangers, your
wants. He knows all your walking through this great wilderness, and can afford
you the seasonable succour you need. For again, observe the efficiency of
his thoughts. You think upon another, and you are anxious to guide, or defend,
or relieve him. But in how many cases can you think only? Solicitude cannot
control the disease of the body, cannot dissipate the melancholy of the mind.
But with God all things are possible. He who thinks upon you is a God at hand
and not afar off; he has all events under his control; he is the God of all
grace. If, therefore, he does not immediately deliver, it is not because he is
unable to redress, but because he is waiting to be gracious. William Jay.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
1. My part --praying and waiting.
2. God's part --condescension and reply.
1. The depth of God's goodness to his people. It finds
them often in a horrible pit and miry clay. There is a certain spider which
forms a pit in sand, and lies concealed at the bottom, in order to seize upon
other insects that fall into it. Thus David's enemies tried to bring him into a
2. The height of his goodness. He brought me out and set
my feet upon a rock. That rock is Christ. Those feet are faith and hope.
3. The breadth of his goodness establisheth my
goings, restored me to my former place in his love, showing me still to
have been his during my low estate. He was the same to me, though I felt not the
same to him. My goings refer both to the past and the future.
4. The strength of his goodness established my
goings, making me stand firmer after every fall. --George Rogers.
Verses 2-3. The sinner's position by nature, and his rescue
Verses 2-3. By one and the same act the Lord works our
salvation, our enemies' confusion, and the church's edification. J. P.
Verse 3. The new song, the singer, the teacher.
Verse 4. (last clause).
1. Find out who turn aside to lies--Atheists, Papists, self
righteous, lovers of sin.
2. Show their folly in turning aside from God and truth, and in
turning to fallacies which lead to death.
3. Show how to be preserved from the like folly, by choosing
truth, truthful persons, and above all the service of God.
1. There are works of God in his people and for his
people. There are his works of creation, of providence, and of redemption,
and also his works of grace, wrought in them by his Spirit, and around them by
his providence, as well as for them by his Son.
2. These are wonderful works; wonderful in their
variety, their tenderness, their adaptation to their need, their cooperation
with outward means and their power.
3. They are the result of the divine thoughts respecting
us. They come not by chance, not by men, but by the hand of God, and that
hand is moved by his will, and that will by his thought respecting us. Every
mercy, even the least, represents some kind thought in the mind of God
respecting us. God thinks of each one of his people, and every moment.
4. They are innumerable. They cannot be reckoned up.
Could we see all the mercies of God to us and his wonderful works wrought for us
individually, they would be countless as the sands, and all these countless
mercies represent countless thoughts in the mind and heart of God to each one of
his people. --George Rogers.
Verse 5. The multitude of God's thoughts, and deeds of
grace; beginning in eternity, continuing for ever; and dealing with this life,
heaven, hell, sin, angels, devils, and indeed all things.
Verse 6. Here David goes beyond himself, and speaks the
language of David's Son. This was naturally suggested by God's wonderful works,
and innumerable thoughts of love to man.
1. The sacrifices that were not required. These were the
sacrifices and burnt offerings under the law. (a) When required? From Adam to the coming of Christ.
(b) When not required? (c) Why required before? As types of the one method of
redemption. (d) Why not now required? Because the great Antitype had come.
2. The sacrifice that was required. This was the
sacrifice offered on Calvary. (a) It was required by God by his justice, his wisdom, his
faithfulness, his love, his honour, his glory. (b) It was required by man to give him salvation and confidence
in that salvation. (c) It was required for the honour of the moral government of
God throughout the universe.
3. The person by whom this sacrifice was offered.
Mine ears hast thou opened. This is the language of Christ,
prospectively denoting--(a) Knowledge of the sacrifice required. (b) Consecration of himself as a servant for that end.
Verse 6. Mine ears hast thou opened. Readiness to hear,
fixity of purpose, perfection of obedience, entireness of consecration.
Verses 6-8. The Lord gives an ear to hear his word, a mouth
to confess it, a heart to love it, and power to keep it. --James Merrick, M.A.,
Verses 6-8. The Lord gives an ear to hear his word, a mouth
to confess it, a heart to love it, and power to keep it.
1. The time of Christ's coming. Then said I. When types
were exhausted, when prophecies looked for their fulfilment, when worldly wisdom
had done its utmost, when the world was almost entirely united under one empire,
when the time appointed by the Father had come.
2. The design of his coming. In the volume was written--(a) The constitution of his person.
(b) His teaching. (c) The manner of his life. (d) The design of his death. (e) His resurrection and ascension.
(f) The kingdom he would establish.
3. The voluntariness of his coming, Lo, I come. Though
sent by the Father, he came of his own accord. "Christ Jesus came into the
world." Men do not come into the world, they are sent into it. Lo, I
come, denotes pre-existence, pre-determination, pre-operation. --George Rogers.
Verses 6-8. The Lord gives an ear to hear his word, a mouth
to confess it, a heart to love it, and power to keep it.
Verse 8. To do thy will, O God.
1. The will of God is seen in the fact of salvation. It has its
origin in the will of God.
2. The will of God is seen in the plan of salvation. All things
have proceeded, are proceeding, and will proceed according to that plan.
3. It is seen in the provision of salvation, in the appointment
of his own Son to become the mediator the atoning sacrifice, the law fulfiller,
the head of the church, that his plan required.
4. It is seen in the accomplishment of salvation.
Verse 9. Referring to our Lord; a great preacher, a great
subject, a great congregation, and his great faithfulness in the work.
Verse 10. (first clause).
1. The righteousness possessed by God.
2. The righteousness prescribed by God.
3. The righteousness provided by God. James
1. The preacher must reveal his whole message. 2. He must not
conceal any part: (a) Not of the righteousness of the law or the gospel; (b) Not of the lovingkindness of
grace; (c) Not of any portion of the truth with flowers of rhetoric; (d) To give a partial
representation; (e) To put one truth in the place of another; (f) To give the letter without the spirit. G.R.
Verse 10. The great sin of concealing what we know of God.
Verse 11. Enrichment and preservation sought. The true
riches are from God, gifts of his sovereignty, fruits of his mercy, marked with
his tenderness. The best preservations are divine love and faithfulness.
Verses 11-13. As an instance of clerical ingenuity, it may be
well to mention that Canon Wordsworth has a sermon from these verses upon "the
duty of making responses in public prayer."
"Came at length the dreadful night.
Vengeance with its iron rod
Stood, and with collected might
Bruised the harmless Lamb of God,
See, my soul, thy Saviour see,
Prostrate in Gethsemane!"
"There my God bore all my guilt,
This through grace can be believed;
But the horrors which he felt
Are too vast to be conceived.
None can penetrate through thee,
Doleful, dark Gethsemane."
"Sins against a holy God;
Sins against his righteous laws;
Sins against his love, his blood;
Sins against his name and cause;
Sins immense as is the sea--
Hide me, O Gethsemane!"
Verses 11-13. As an instance of clerical ingenuity, it may be
well to mention that Canon Wordsworth has a sermon from these verses upon "the
duty of making responses in public prayer."
Verse 12. Compare this with Ps 40:5. The number of our sins,
and the number of his thoughts of love.
Verse 12. (second clause).
1. The soul arrested--"taken hold."
2. The soul bewildered--"cannot look up."
3. The soul's only refuge--prayer, Ps 40:13.
Verses 11-13. As an instance of clerical ingenuity, it may be
well to mention that Canon Wordsworth has a sermon from these verses upon "the
duty of making responses int public prayer."
1. The language of believing prayer--deliver me, help me;
looking for deliverance and help to God only.
2. Of earnest prayer--make haste to help me.
3. Of submissive prayer--be pleased, O Lord, if according to thy
4. Of consistent prayer. Help me, which implies efforts for his
own deliverance, putting his own shoulder to the wheel.
Verse 14. Honi soit mal y pense; or, the reward of
Verse 16. (last clause). An everyday saying. Who can
use it? What does it mean? Why should they say it? Why say it
Verse 17. The humble But, and the believing
Yet. The little I am, and the great Thou art. The fitting
Verse 17. The Lord thinketh upon me. Admire the
condescension, and then consider that this is--
1. A promised blessing.
2. A practical blessing--he thinks upon us to supply, protect,
direct, sanctify, &c.
3. A precious blessing--kind thoughts, continual, greatly good.
He thinks of us as his creatures with pity, as his children with love, as his
friends with pleasure.
4. A present blessing--promises, providences, visitations of
1. The less we think of ourselves the more God will think upon
2. The less we put trust in ourselves the more we may trust in
God for help and deliverance.
3. The less delay in prayer and active efforts the sooner God
will appear for us.
WORKS UPON THE FORTIETH PSALM
A Sermon upon the Fortieth Psalme, preached in the time of
Public Fast; in "Sermons by the Rev. ROBERT BRUCE, Minister of
Edinburgh, reprinted from the original edition of 1590, and 1591...Edinburgh:
printed for the Wodrow Society. 1843."
Christ and his Work: an Exposition of Psalm 40. By JAMES