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Psa 40:1 For the Chief Musician. A Psalm by David- The Psalm is similar to Psalms 38 and 39 [and parts of it are repeated in Ps. 70], and they all appear to be David's reflections upon his sin with Bathsheba and his sufferings and resolutions which arose from that. Jeduthun was perhaps "the chief musician" (Ps. 39:1) who was to perform the Psalms or teach them to others (1 Chron. 16:41,42,44; 25:3-6).

I waited patiently for Yahweh. He turned to me, and heard my cry-
David now emerges from all his desperate prayers in Ps. 38,39 whilst sick after the sin with Bathsheba. He triumphs in total rescue from the situation because he presumably was feeling better. But we know that the consequences of the sin were to continue for him. His cry was not completely heard, and his cries of the previous two Psalms were hardly 'waiting patiently for Yahweh'. Like us, he imagines total answer to prayer when in fact things are not that simple. And he has failed in appreciating that the essential desire he had was for forgiveness (see on Ps. 38:9; 39:7). He recognizes later in this Psalm that the consequences of his sin continue, and he asks for them also to be removed, despite Nathan's words to him to the effect that they would continue. See on :17.

Psa 40:2 He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay. He set my feet on a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand-
He likens himself to Joseph in the pit, who was saved from it. But Joseph was innocent; David wasn't. And again we get a hint that his repentance was not as total as it might have been. His later Psalms continue to present himself as righteous and suffering "without a cause". When there was a cause.


Psa 40:3 He has put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God-
Is. 42:9,10 says that we sing the “new song” now, because we sing / meditate of the “new things” which will be in the Kingdom. In that day, we will “sing a new song” (Rev. 5:9; 14:3). And yet this is undoubtedly picking up on the way in which we can now sing the ‘new song’, every morning (Ps. 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1). This was how David felt after receiving God's grace over the Bathsheba incidents. Likewise, all things will be made new at the Lord’s coming (Rev. 21:5), and yet those in whom the new creation is worked out already have all things made new in their spiritual experience (2 Cor. 5:17,18). The life that the Lord Jesus had and now lives is the essence of the Kingdom life. Who He was and is, this is the definition of the Kingdom life. It’s why one of His titles is “the kingdom of God” (Lk. 17:21). And it’s why it can be said that we ‘have’ eternal life now, in that we can live the essence of the life we will eternally live, right now.

Even in the Old Testament, the idea of living in a spirit of newness of life is to be found. David six times invites us to sing with him “a new song” (Ps. 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1 cp. Is. 42:10). Invariably these songs are associated with the experience of God’s redemption (cp. Rev. 5:9). Obviously those ‘new songs’ were intended to be repeatedly sung. Our regular experience of forgiveness and redemption should urge us onwards in the spirit of ‘newness of life’. Like Paul we die daily with the Lord, and the power of His resurrection life likewise daily breaks out in us.

David felt able to praise God despite having many of his prayers and issues still unanswered (:14-17). The experience of forgiveness was enough for him, as it should be for us.

Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in Yahweh- Again we see David convinced that his judgment and forgiveness would lead others to trust in God's grace, just as he had done. This is critical in coping with suffering- to perceive that whatever we suffer is not simply for ourselves, but so that we might share the comfort we receive with others likewise suffering (2 Cor. 1:4-7). This was why David wrote these Psalms and handed them to the chief musician for mass distribution (see on :1).

Psa 40:4 Blessed is the man who makes Yahweh his trust and doesn’t respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies-
Even in apparent contrition and joy at grace received, David seems unable to rejoice in it without a sideways swipe at others. He considers his enemies proud, and to be serving idols- for that is the sense of "turn aside to lies". And indeed idolatry was prevalent in Israel, and amongst David's enemies. Again we have the hint that his repentance was not as thoroughgoing as we might have expected.

Psa 40:5 Many, Yahweh my God, are the wonderful works which You have done, and Your thoughts which are toward us. They can’t be declared back to You. If I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered-
Yet through these Psalms, David is indeed declaring God's grace to him (see on :10). But he says he does so with a great sense of inadequacy; for he cannot render back to God according to the grace shown him. Hezekiah is condemned for this (2 Chron. 32:25). And yet David admits this is how man is, faced with the extent of God's grace to him. We have here another example of how two men may do the same thing [here, not rendering back according to God's grace], and yet be judged differently according to their attitude of mind.

Psa 40:6 Sacrifice and offering You didn’t desire. You have digged my ears. You have not required burnt offering and sin offering-
David was aware that God didn't really want sacrifice, or else he would so eagerly have offered it (Ps. 51:16,17). But there were no sacrifices prescribed for his sins of adultery and murder. Instead, David perceived that what God wanted in essence was a broken and contrite spirit. The Bathsheba incident was programmatic for David's understanding of God, and his prayers and psalms subsequently can be expected to have constant allusion back to it. We meet the same idea of God not ultimately wanting sacrifice in Ps. 40:6-9: "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire [but instead] mine ears hast thou opened [Heb. 'digged'- a reference to a servant being permanently committed as a slave to his master]: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come... to do thy will... thy law is within my heart". In Ps. 51:17, David had reasoned that instead of sacrifice, God wanted a heart that was broken and contrite. Here he reflects that instead of sacrifice, God wants a heart that has the law of God within it. This ultimately is the effect of God's law being in our heart- it creates a broken and contrite heart. But how? In the experience of most of us, the law does this through convicting us of our inability to keep the it. And so we see how guilt and grace work so seamlessly together. David's broken heart was a heart which knew he had sinned, sinned irreversibly, and condemned himself. But this, he perceived, was the result of God's law being within his heart. But the words of Ps. 40:6-9 are applied in the New Testament to the Lord's death upon the cross. What's the connection, and what's the lesson? In essence, through David's experience of sin, and the work of God's law upon his heart, he came through that sin to have the very mind of the Lord Jesus as He hung upon the cross, matchless and spotless in His perfection, as the Lamb for sinners slain. Again and again we see the lesson taught- that God works through human sin, in this case, in order to bring us to know the very mind of Christ in His finest hour of glory and spiritual conquest. We must not only let God's word work its way in us; but we need to recognize when dealing with other sinners that God likewise is working with them. He doesn't shrug and walk away from sin; He earnestly seeks to use our experience of it to bring us closer unto Himself.

As noted on Ps. 20:13, success in war and answer to prayer was thought to depend upon the offering of sacrifice. After the sin with Bathsheba, David now matures in his understanding- that salvation and God's operation with His people is by grace and not because He desired sacrifice (Ps. 40:6; 51:16,17).

This passage is quoted of the Lord Jesus in Heb. 10:5-12. It was the Lord's love of the word which made Him endure the cross and obtain that great salvation, both for Himself and for us. His crucifixion was likened to His ear (His hearing of the word) being nailed to an upright piece of wood (cp. the cross; Ex. 21:6 = Ps. 40:6-8 = Heb. 10:5-12).  Paul perceives that firstly, there was the statement that God did not desire animal sacrifices of themselves in order to remove sin; and secondly, the Lord Jesus came to do God's will, in a way which animals simply could not do. This division into first and second is pressed into a similarity with the first and second covenants, as noted on Heb. 9:1. God's desire was that sacrifice should be offered under the Old Covenant, but this could not take away sin of itself. What He desired far more ['not A but B' can mean 'not so much A as B'] was the sacrifice of the One who did His will perfectly.

"You have digged my ears" is quoted differently in Heb. 10:5 as "a body did You prepare for me". God did want sacrifices, but not for the sins David had committed concerning Uriah and Bathsheba. The Greek word "body" is also translated "slave" (Rev. 18:13). The idea cannot be that a body was prepared on earth, and some Divine Spirit incarnated it and the body became known as 'Jesus of Nazareth'. As noted above, the primary reference of the Psalm 40 quotation is to David after his sin with Bathsheba reflecting that sacrifices were not appropriate, and all he could do was to offer himself as the humble servant of Yahweh for the rest of his days. In any case, reading this as meaning that the 'Spirit Jesus' came down from Heaven and lived inside a specially prepared body is reading too much in to the words. Jesus began as an egg within Mary, which divided and re-divided until it became a fetus, then a child and thence "the man Christ Jesus". Jesus 'was' the body; He didn't somehow enter into a body which was prepared somewhere on earth. I therefore suggest that we read "body" as "slave" or "servant". And this is in fact what the Hebrew text implies in Psalm 40; Paul is quoting here from the Septuagint, but the Hebrew reads: "My ears You have digged / bored" (Ps. 40:6). The allusion is to how a servant could choose to remain within his master's house as a permanent slave because he so loved his wife and family and his master; and in this case his ear was bored through and nailed to an upright piece of wood (Ex. 21:6). This clearly hinted at the crucifixion. The Lord Jesus was the slave who willingly decided to devote Himself permanently to the service of the Master's household, demonstrating it by His crucifixion; His ministry for us is therefore eternal, unlike that of the Levitical priests. Paul nearly always quotes the Septuagint rather than the Masoretic text, but the sense here is essentially the same, although the readings differ. The idea is that God didn't want dead animals, but a totally dedicated servant / slave who would perfectly do His will and devote himself to the permanent service of His household. And that person was the Lord Jesus, typified by the repentant David. Phil. 2:7,8 along with the prophecies of the suffering servant makes it clear that the Lord was supremely a slave / servant in His death on the cross.  

Psa 40:7 Then I said, Behold, I have come-
We must remember that these words were first spoken and felt by David, reflecting upon God's grace which he received after his sin with Bathsheba; and his desire to respond to that grace practically. Although they are applied to the Lord Jesus in Heb. 10:5-12, it would be a totally false step of logic to assume that "I come..." means that the Lord Jesus 'came' from heaven to earth at His birth or supposed 'incarnation'. That is clearly not what David intended when he spoke these words about himself.

The quotation from Psalm 40 is of words first thought and spoken by David in reflecting that there was no sacrifice which could be offered to deal with his sin in effectively murdering Uriah and committing adultery. All he could offer God was a broken heart, and a desire to humbly serve Him in whatever days he might be given by grace. The Bathsheba Psalms all have further reference to the attitude of the Lord Jesus on the cross; the brokenness of David at that time, physically and psychologically, pointed forward to that of the Lord in His time of dying. The purpose of this is to teach us to what extent the Lord Jesus identified with hopelessly fallen man especially at the time of His dying; whilst Himself never having sinned. The reference to David is evidence enough that the words of this passage do not demand an incarnation of some Divine Spirit into a body waiting on earth to receive it, as Trinitarians claim. The language of Psalm 40 originally applied to David's feelings after his sin with Bathsheba. It is interpreted as being appropriate to the Lord's feelings when He "came into the world".

"Came into" in Heb. 10:5 is the very word which has been used in that section of Hebrews about the Lord's coming into the Most Holy, representing Heaven itself (Heb. 6:20; 9:12,24,25). The reference could be to the Lord's beginning of His priesthood in Heaven, rather than having any reference to His birth or death on earth. But "into the world" is the phrase so often used in John's Gospel for the Father sending His Son into the world at the start of His ministry at age 30 [not necessarily at His birth]. And the same phrase "came into the world" is used of how "I am come a light into the world" (Jn. 12:46) and how the Lord "came into the world that I should bear witness unto the truth" (Jn. 18:37). That witness began to be given at age 30, which was when the Lord "came into the [Jewish] world". "The world" in John's Gospel nearly always refers to the Jewish world, as it does in this context in Heb. 9:26; and the Lord came into that world when His ministry to them began at age 30. We would therefore interpret this as meaning that the Lord began His ministry with the understanding that God had never wanted the animal sacrifices of themselves, but rather required a representative human being to perfectly do God's will. And this He dedicated Himself to doing in the ministry which culminated in the final doing of God's will by dying on the cross. The death of the cross is so often spoken of as the Father's "will". 

It is written about me throughout the book in the scroll- David understood that the law of Moses which condemned him actually spoke (between the lines) about desperate sinners like himself who were condemned by that law. Within that same law were continual hints of God's grace outside of that law. And these words came to comfortably apply to the Lord Jesus in that He was foretold through the Old Testament.


Psa 40:8 I delight to do Your will, my God. Yes, Your law is within my heart-
David knew he was condemned by the law as an adulterer and murderer. And yet he was confident of acceptance in that the spirit of the law was truly in his heart, as Ps. 119 demonstrates. These words naturally came true in the Lord Jesus to a far greater extent.

The will of God is specifically associated with the Lord's death on the cross (e.g. Mt. 26:39). The entire scroll of the Pentateuch [the "roll of the book" known to David at the time of Psalm 40] implied the death of a perfect human sacrifice who would complete God's will for human salvation in totality. And Paul is applying these thoughts of David to the Lord Jesus as He began His ministry [or perhaps specifically when He died, or when He began His priestly service on entering Heaven; see on :5].

This is quoted and interpreted in Heb. 10:9 as: "Then he said: Behold, I come to do Your will. He takes away the first, that he may establish the second". As noted on Heb. 10:8, the "first" statement is associated with the first covenant, the law of Moses. The doing of God's will by the perfect sacrifice establishes "the second", i.e. the new covenant; and by doing so, the first covenant is made old (Heb. 8:13), or as stated here, 'taken away', or literally 'slain / killed'. This is how totally the old covenant had been taken away. The second or new covenant was "established" in that as explained above, it was based upon the promises to Abraham which already existed, but which were mediated or brought into operation by the Lord's sacrifice. Thereby, men and women could become "in" the seed of Abraham, and the promises which were originally to only Abraham and his singular seed thereby were made to all within the One Messianic seed. These promises, this second or new covenant, was 'established' by the Lord's death; and thereby the "first", Mosaic covenant was done away. To return to that was therefore to reject the Lord's work and to shy away from the wonder of salvation now made so sure and established.

Heb. 10:10 interprets further: "By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all". The "will" of God refers to God's will that none should perish but all should be saved (Mt. 18:14; Jn. 3:16; 6:40). That will lead to the giving of His Son; and yet the Son had to freely fulfill that will of His own volition. The incredible will of God for human salvation was demonstrated publically by the offering of the Lord's body. This "once and for all" declared the will of God to save us, ending for all time any doubt or niggling suspicion that He is somehow indifferent to human salvation and is simply leaving us to make our own decisions without any passion or will from His side. The Lord's death was therefore His "will" (Mt. 26:42). The doing of God's will by His Son is parallel with the finishing of His work (Jn. 4:34), coming to a climax in His last words from the cross: "It is finished". Yet we too are to play our part in the doing of that will- in reaching out to save others by the grace of the Lord Jesus (Heb. 10:36; 13:21). "The offering of the body of Jesus" alludes to how the offering of animal bodies could not save of itself; but again it was the life and person of the Lord Jesus which saves, rather than simply His body, which was like any other human body.

Psa 40:9 I have proclaimed glad news of righteousness in the great assembly. Behold, I will not seal my lips, Yahweh, You know-
Through his Psalms, David was proclaiming to all that God was right and he was wrong, and yet thereby he had been saved by grace outside of the Mosaic system of sacrifices. The verse also describes how the Lord Jesus accomplished God’s will as the ultimate sacrifice, through the death of the cross. That death is foretold by the Lord, in the prophetic perfect, as ‘preaching righteousness to the great congregation’ [LXX ekklesia]. In living out the dying of the man Christ Jesus in our daily lives, we are making the witness of Christ. This and :10 speak of how the Lord Jesus would proclaim righteousness to the ekklesia and declare God’s faithfulness and salvation, i.e. the things of His Name. Yet this passage is quoted in Heb. 10:5-7 about the cross. It was there above all that “thy law is within my heart" and He “preached righteousness". This is why Paul can talk of “the preaching [which is] the cross". He as He was there is the ultimate witness. And this was why the Yahweh Name was written up over Him.



Psa 40:10 I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart. I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation. I have not concealed Your grace and Your truth from the great assembly-
Ps. 39:9,11 seems to describe an illness with which David was afflicted after his sin with Bathsheba. Psalm 40 then seems to be giving thanks for David’s cure and receipt of forgiveness; and it is replete with reference to David’s desire to spread the word: “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit…he hath put a new song in my mouth… many shall see it, and fear, and turn to the Lord [alluded to in the way the Acts record accounts for the many conversions after the death of Ananias and Sapphira]… blessed is that man [cp. Ps. 32:1)…I have preached righteousness [a ‘prophetic perfect’, meaning ‘I will do this…’]  in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips…I have declared (LXX euangelizesthai- evangelized) thy faithfulness and thy salvation [unto]… the great congregation” (Ps. 40:2-5,9,10 AV). All desire to evangelize must likewise be based in a marvel at God's grace to us despite our sins.

There is a connection between our preaching and salvation, because salvation depends upon faith; and if we believe, if we have drunk the living water, it will spring up in us and bubble over to others. Because David did not conceal God’s mercy and truth [a phrase often referring to the Gospel covenant to Abraham] from others, therefore God would not conceal His mercy and truth from David (Ps. 40:10,11). The farmer who sows seed is likened to every preacher of the Gospel; and yet his own life and the lives of others depends upon the sowing of the seed. This is how vital preaching is; it isn’t the only virtue which the redeemed believer is expected to demonstrate, but it is one of them.

Psa 40:11 Don’t withhold Your tender mercies from me, Yahweh; let Your grace and Your truth continually preserve me-
David appears both confident of having received God's mercy (see on :1), and yet also asking for those mercies. Perhaps he speaks earlier in the prophetic perfect, certain of receiving what is yet future. Or perhaps he believes he has received forgiveness, but wants help dealing with the consequences. Or perhaps his faith in the receipt of forgiveness is oscillating. "Grace / mercy and truth" is a term often used about the promises to Abraham. David rightly perceived that the essence of the blessing promised was forgiveness, as does Paul in Gal. 3 and Peter in Acts 3:24-27- and not just eternal inheritance of land on earth.

Psa 40:12 For innumerable evils have surrounded me-
David sees his sins and their consequences as "without number", but he uses the same word for God's "infinite" or "without number" "understanding" (s.w. Ps. 147:5). God understands better than we do the nature of our sins and their consequences.

My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up. They are more than the hairs of my head- The same word is used of Laban's overtaking Jacob (Gen. 31:25); again he takes comfort from the precedents in the story of Jacob. It is the same word for the Egyptians overtaking the Israelites before the Red Sea deliverance (Ex. 14:9; 15:9). He was like the man guilty of blood whom the avenger of blood had overtaken (Dt. 19:6), and he was desperately seeking a city of refuge in Yahweh. 2 Sam. 15:14 uses the same word for  "overtaken". The way he was saved from being overtaken by Absalom in judgment for this was perhaps an answer to his prayer of Ps. 40:12. In the context of the consequences of his sin with Bathsheba, David says that his sins and their consequences are "more than the hairs of my head" (Ps. 40:12). But he uses the same phrase in saying that his "without a cause" enemies are "more than the hairs of my head" (Ps. 69:4). But again we note that he considers those consequences of his sin to be "without cause", and we wonder at the depth of his repentance and sense of culpability.

My heart has failed me- This continues to reference David's emotional and psychological breakdown after the sin with Bathsheba; the same phrase is in Ps. 38:10.

Psa 40:13 Be pleased, Yahweh, to deliver me. Hurry to help me, Yahweh-
David repeatedly asks God to "hurry to help me" (Ps. 22:19; 38:22; 40:13; 70:1,5; 141:1). But David had hurried (s.w.) to be obedient to God, always wanting to 'say yes straight away' (Ps. 119:60). Our response to God's voice is therefore related to His response to our voice; if His words abide in us, then we experience positive experience in answered prayer (Jn. 15:7).

Psa 40:14 Let them be disappointed and confounded together who seek after my soul to destroy it. Let them be turned backward and brought to dishonour who delight in my hurt-
Saul sought  to take David's life. So many of the Psalms contain imprecations against those who were seeking David's soul- not just his physical life, but seeking to destroy his very being (e.g. Ps. 35:4; 40:14; 54:1; 63:9; 70:2; 71:13). These imprecations expose the evil of Saul, and asks God to condemn him. Some of those Psalms appear to have been written by David in the Saul days, and then rewritten at the time of Absalom's rebellion- another man who sought David's soul, and yet whom David loved. These words perhaps originated in the wilderness Psalm of Ps. 35:4. But David repeats them here, in this Psalm which appears to reference to David's sin with Bathsheba, which provoked the plotting against David's life referred to here. And yet we wonder as to how David could so bitterly wish the destruction of his opponents, when he himself had been saved by grace.

Psa 40:15 Let them be desolate by reason of their shame that tell me, Aha! Aha!-
David's repeated desire to see the condemnation of those who were judging him seems inappropriate for a man saved by grace; for they were the vehicles for receiving the consequences of his sins.

Psa 40:16 Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You. Let such as love Your salvation say continually, Let Yahweh be exalted!-
Again we query why and how David continues to see people in such black and white terms, divided between the righteous and unrighteous, when he himself had been revealed as a righteous man who had sinned seriously.

The faithful are described as "those that seek (God)... such as love Your salvation". But truly seeks God (Rom. 3:11- the context concerns all of us, believers and unbelievers); and yet we are those who seek Him. We must be ambitious to do the impossible. Those who truly love righteousness and the Kingdom will be rewarded with it. Likewise Paul in 1 Cor. 8:2,3 describes the faithful man as one who accepts he knows nothing as he ought to know, but truly loves God. Heb. 9:28 is clear: "Unto them that look for (Christ) shall He appear the second time... unto salvation". Those who truly look for Christ will be given salvation.

David responded to their seeking of him by seeking God more. He uses the language of the hunt and chase to describe how he was drawing closer to God: "My soul followeth hard after thee" (Ps. 63:8; Ps. 63 is a wilderness psalm, see title). “Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul... let all those that seek thee rejoice" (Ps. 40:14,16). In this sense, David felt he wasn't fleeing from his enemies as much as fleeing to God: "Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies (from whom he was running): I flee unto thee to hide me" (Ps. 143:9). This fleeing to God didn't mean that David and Jesus didn't respond or retaliate verbally; both of them, especially the Lord Jesus, did. They both pleaded their innocence, and accused their enemies of being unfair and hypocritical. Yet this must have been done from a genuine motive of love; as David loved Saul, as the thought of Saul's death must have torn at his heart, so the Lord Jesus loved Israel, weeping over Jerusalem, wishing to himself like a child for the impossible: that they would know him as their Saviour. Both David and Jesus had a real sense of direction, they could see that their mental, emotional and physical sufferings were leading them towards an altogether higher relationship with the Father. They took those sufferings as an almost welcome push towards the Father. They had a sure sense of spiritual direction in all their afflictions; this accounts for the human loneliness which they both felt.

Psa 40:17 But I am poor and needy. May the Lord think about me. You are my help and my deliverer. Don’t delay, my God
- He recognizes towards the end of this Psalm that the consequences of his sin continue, and he asks for them also to be removed, he is "needy" for answers, despite Nathan's words to him to the effect that they would continue. Yet in :1 he triumphs that his prayers have been heard and all is well; he has come up out of the pit (:2). This could therefore be read as assuming that because he was over his sickness, all his other issues were resolved. Or those earlier statements could be read as faith that he would be ultimately delivered from all the problems which his sin had caused.