Today we’re going to be reading Psalm 40 for our devotion. But I’m going to chop it up and flip it around a bit. Psalm 40 is titled “Thanksgiving for Deliverance and Prayer for Help” and is attributed to David. You can read the whole thing in it’s real form by clicking here.
Before we dig in, I love that this Psalm begins with praising God for deliverance from previous suffering before launching into a prayer that asks for help. When Jesus teaches us how to pray in Matthew, he tells us to first give praise to God before we do anything else. Because before we did anything at all on earth, God was here, making space for us, creating beauty and love, and giving us grace that never fails or ends. Jesus tells us to first praise God, then repent for the things that we have done wrong, ask God for forgiveness and for help in whatever we may need, and then finally, to yield to God’s will in our lives.
So, let’s start with David’s praise.
“I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the desolate pit,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you.
Were I to proclaim and tell of them,
they would be more than can be counted.”
God has raised David up and out of some tricky situations several times. The first time we meet David he’s in trouble. He’s a small shepherd kid and he is pitted against a giant. He wins the fight and proves God’s goodness. In his praise, David is thanking God for delivering him from all of the bad ish he’s been in before, but he is also remembering God’s faithfulness and takes assurance and hope from remembering those difficult times.
David goes onto tell God that he is working really hard for the Lord. He’s not keeping his mouth shut about any of the struggles he has gone through and is letting everyone know that it was because of God that he has been delivered and redeemed.
“I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
see, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O Lord.
I have not hidden your saving help within my heart,
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.”
This part is so important. It is so incredibly profound to share your grief and your trouble with other people in your community for many reasons. First, it allows us to verbalize the trouble we are experiencing and allows us to work through our thoughts in a healthy way. Second, it forces us to be in our community of support when all we want to do is hide away. We need community. We need shoulders to lean on and people to cry with. We need to hear others tell us that they love us and are here for us in times of our deepest trouble. Speaking God’s faithfulness and salvation aloud to friends and family gives us the opportunity to share and to remember God’s unfailing love and faithfulness.
In verse 11, David begins the part of this prayer in which he is asking for help.
“Do not, O Lord, withhold
your mercy from me;
let your steadfast love and your faithfulness
keep me safe forever.
For evils have encompassed me
my iniquities have overtaken me,
until I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails me.”
That’s some heavy suffering. And I feel that so hard sometimes. Do you ever have those moments where you’re half praying, half exasperated, half giving up when you just kind exclaim “OH MY GOD WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?” Just me? Okay. Let’s look at the last part of David’s Psalm.
“Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Let all those be put to shame and confusion
who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
who desire my hurt.
Let those be appalled because of their shame
who say to me, ‘Aha, Aha!’
But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
do not delay, O my God.”
I do not usually pray for God to put shame to those who hurt me or harm me, but David lived in a very different time. I usually ask God to change the hearts of those who wish to hurt me or cause me trouble.
David ends his prayer by praising God again as well as yielding to God’s will in his life. He knows that he is poor and needy (probably in spirit, since David was a king and didn’t want for much in his adult life), but he knows that God looks after him.
We know this is true based on 1 and 2 Samuel, which tell the story of David being king and the close relationship he has with God. And even though there aren’t books written about it, God is that close to you as well.
God wants to live in your heart. God wants to fill up ever corner of your being, even the messed up, dark, sad, dusty parts. God wants to pull you up out of the pit you are in and set you back on firm land. God wants to deliver you from your grief and your suffering.