Psalm 40 NRSV:
To the leader. Of David. A Psalm.
1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the desolate pit,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
4 Happy are those who make
the Lord their trust,
who do not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after false gods.
5 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.
6 Sacrifice and offering you do not desire,
but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
you have not required.
7 Then I said, “Here I am;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me.
8 I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”
9 I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
see, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O Lord.
10 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.
11 Do not, O Lord, withhold
your mercy from me;
let your steadfast love and your faithfulness
keep me safe forever.
12 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.
13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
O Lord, make haste to help me.
14 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.
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”
16 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
17 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.
Psalm 40 highlights a recurring life theme: being in a pit and climbing out of a pit. We all have problems and have all been in this imaginary pit. Many times, when we go through difficulty, it is our instinct to turn away from God. We tell ourselves, “God does not care.”
Psalm 40 does not specify what problem David is facing. As the reader, I enjoy this because it allows me to insert my own problems into the story: an illness, job loss, or even a global pandemic. I feel David’s pain as he describes being trapped in a desolate pit without sure footing. I have been there, trying to solve my problems without God and sinking deeper and deeper.
In the psalm, David teaches us the fastest way out of the pit is trusting in God and sharing our problems with him. I have a three-year-old daughter. She becomes upset multiple times a day. It could be that she fell and bumped her knee, or maybe she could not reach her favorite toy. Regardless of the reason, she runs to me crying, and I ask, “What is wrong?” Instead of telling me, she continues to cry and scream. Finally, in a very frustrated voice I say “Anna, use your words. I cannot help you if I do not know what is wrong.”
I picture this exact conversation between God and me. I am in a pit crying out to everyone but God. I hear God say, “My dear child, please use your words. I cannot help you if I do not know what is wrong.” Cry out to God just like David did. Tell him about your problems. Trust in God. He is our helper and our deliverer.
Today, I put my trust in you. I cry out to you with the problems I face. For I know you are my Helper and my Deliverer. Change my fear to faith and keep hope and joy always before me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.