“I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and the mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you have planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, “Here I am, I have come — it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.””
Happy New Year! How often have you given and received this greeting over the past few days? Have you made any resolutions for this coming year? Perhaps more importantly, will you keep the resolutions you are making? I must begin my last blog post for 2017 by letting each of you know that I am praying that this coming year will be a year that will be richly filled with the Lord’s blessings for all of us. As I write this however I am aware that these greetings and hopes betray something of the deep inner longing that is part of every one of our lives. We sincerely hope that our lives will indeed become better in the coming year. In our hearts we find ourselves longing for a better world. We want peace on earth. We want solutions to the sin, failure, and brokenness that we struggle with each day. We feel this way because we have been created with a desire for something better. In Ecclesiastes 3:11 we read, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” We know that there is a better reality than that which we experience each day. We find ourselves turning to all manner of different solutions to our longings. What are we to do?
These thoughts are a somewhat lengthy introduction to the reflections of King David in Psalm 40. Like us, David is living a life that is tried by a variety of harsh circumstances. I am sure that there were many times when he wondered whether there was any solution to his struggles. He tells us in the twelfth verse that he is overwhelmed by his sin. He has discovered a solution however. This is the promise that God has given Him in His Word. In 2 Samuel 7:18-19, as David is humbly coming before God and prayerfully reflecting upon the promise that God has made to him that his house will produce a ruler who will sit on an eternal throne as God’s King, he makes the following statement. “Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me thus far? And as if this was not enough in your sight, O Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant. Is this your usual way of dealing with man, O Sovereign Lord?” (NIV) Walter Kaiser Jr. In The Messiah in the Old Testament, makes a convincing case that that last line could be better translated as “this is your charter for humanity.” (Kaiser p. 79-80) What David recognises is that God has made a promise here that will fundamentally redeem everyone who believes it. David must now live believing that what God has promised God will do. Everything is changed as a result.
David opens the Psalm with praise to the Lord, who has made such an astounding promise to his people. Such praise looks ahead to God’s promised blessing with what David calls expectant hope. He is looking for the promise to be fulfilled. He has a deep longing for God’s promise to become reality. In the meantime however David will fix his gaze upon that promise. He will pray for it to come. He will live his life secure in the promise that God has made. He will even die full of faith in what God has promised. You see, David knows that God is present, and actively at work in his life working out the promise that has been made.
This is the faith that we are called to live by. The promise was not just for David, it is for every believer. As David reflects upon the promise his thinking becomes prophetic. He looks ahead and sees the coming King as one who will bring in God’s promised gift of righteousness through a sacrificial act that will astound the world and make believers righteous. It will be the Lord’s doing when it comes. It will humble us to the very core of our being, and then produce in us a deep and abiding praise.
What we long for is biblical. God has created us for a better world. Our ways of satisfying this longing are often not very biblical at all. We turn away from trusting Him, in order to put our hope in all manner of things that can only fail us. David calls us to put our trust in the Lord.