Today [Psalm Forty]. How Did Jesus Know Who He Was? In this psalm we find the writer struggling with near death. It is seen as a Messianic psalm speaking of the purposes of God in Christ. It refers prophetically to His death, burial and resurrection. Because this psalm is quoted elsewhere, in the New Testament we get a deep insight as to how Jesus as the young savior found out who He was and in so doing discover who we are in God’s purposes as well.
[Psa 40:1-17 KJV] 1 [[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.]] I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. 2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, [and] established my goings. 3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, [even] praise unto our God: many shall see [it], and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. 4 Blessed [is] that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. 5 Many, O LORD my God, [are] thy wonderful works [which] thou hast done, and thy thoughts [which are] to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: [if] I would declare and speak [of them], they are more than can be numbered. 6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book [it is] written of me, 8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law [is] within my heart. 9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest.
Psalm 40 is one of the first psalms in the order given that the authorship of David is questioned. Notice that it is a psalm “of David” which doesn’t necessarily mean it was “by David”. Scholars also speculate whether the focus in the psalm is referencing perhaps Daniel in the lion’s den or the prophet Jeremiah. Another writer thinks that this psalm was recorded by David after he recovered from a bout with leprosy. The matter of content and authorship become more interesting when considering the deep messianic reference made of this psalm in Hebrews 10:5-9.
Let us be aware and reminded that the book of psalms is divided into 5 books. The first book is comprised of psalm 1-41 so we are near the end of that first of the 5 divisions of the book of psalms. Likewise in the 5 books of the psalms there are found 5 types of psalms including: 1.) Hymns; 2.) Community Laments; 3.) Royal psalms; 4.) Personal Laments; and lastly 5.) Individual Thanksgiving psalms. These are the 5 genres of psalms within the book of psalms with minor variations.
Psalm 40 is a psalm of deliverance, a prayer for salvation and a prophetic psalm speaking deeply of Jesus and the purposes of God in Christ. Viewed perhaps most favorably as a psalm of Messianic utterance we see it reflecting the thoughts of Jesus as He is delivered from the grave. In verse 1 we see that he waited patiently for his resurrection and (v.2) He was delivered from the horrible pit of the grave. He also says that he was delivered from the miry clay. Clay is a metaphor for human flesh. In other words for Jesus as the son of God to become human was just as much a matter of personal suffering as going down into the grave. Phil. 2:8 tells us that Jesus’ incarnation was in itself an act of humility accompanied with suffering. Rom. 12:16 tells us that Jesus’ coming to earth was a matter of condescending in His person in order to bring about our personal salvation.
Verse 3 speaks of the new song in the mouth of those that God delivers from suffering. The world around us takes things as they come and sees both good and bad things happening because of random chance and happenstance. Even when good comes – the godless simply conclude they were “lucky”, and don’t bother to give thanks unto God. For us as believers we understand that yes, God rains on the just and on the unjust but we ascribe every good thing that comes to us as being directly authored by His hand.
Verse 4 tells us that when we trust in the Lord we are going to be benefited in every way. Many times we get this wrong in the circumstances of life to our great disadvantage. We are to TRUST God and LOVE people, but many times we err in LOVING GOD and TRUSTING PEOPLE. People will fail you every time. That is the human condition. Trust implies expectation. When you put your expectation on men you will be disappointed. Out of disappointment comes offense and from offense comes wounding. Then we take our wounds to God and ask Him for healing for ourselves and justice regarding the violated trust. God has no obligation to bring resolution to a relationship issue that arose from the fact that you looked to man for what you should have been looking to God for. Trust God and love people. Keep your priorities straight on this and you will avoid much heart ache.
Verse 6 steps off into a deep revelational understanding of the heart of God and the purposes of God. “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldn’t not…” this is quoted in Hebrews 10:5-9. It speaks of the purpose of God not finding it’s fulfillment in a religious system (Judaism) involving ritual sacrifice. God’s purposes are not in pursuit of bringing about a religious culture but rather through sending His only son to bring us rather into a personal and substantive relationship with God Himself – eliminating the “middle man” of religious deference and tradition.
When verse 7-8 speak of “Lo, I come in the volume of the book it is written of Me…” This is speaking of Jesus coming into the earth. Luke 2:40 tells us that Jesus “grew in wisdom” in His natural life. That means that He wasn’t lying in the manger as a babe with the full faculty and understanding of who He was. He had to find it out by inquiry – which this very is a scintillating example of. He read “the volume of the book” and saw Himself in its pages. How did Jesus read the scriptures? He read them and as He read He concludes “this is Me, this is talking about Me!” When can read this and only conclude we are standing on holy ground. We can only pause and reflect upon the depth of that truth and stand in awe at this intimate, deeply personal disclosure of the psyche of Christ.
When we read this same passage quoted in Hebrews 10:5-9 we see how this revelation not only connects with who Jesus is but who we are as well. Let us read the passage in Hebrews with emphasis on the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and what He concludes about Himself when reading these verses:
[Heb 10:5, 7, 9 KJV] 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: … 7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. … 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.
Notice the last comment. He takes away the “first” that He may establish the “second”. The first what? The first body that was prepared for Him, refered to in verse 5. The first body is taken away that the second may be established. The second what? The second body. Body of what? The body of Christ as 1 Cor. 12:27 tells us “now are we the body of Christ and members in particular…” So even when Jesus was in the act of examing the scriptures and understanding who He was and what He was to do – He was also seeing you and I as an intrinsic part of the plan of God touching His life in a very intimate way.
10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation. 11 Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me. 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: therefore my heart faileth me. 13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me. 14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil. 15 Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha. 16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified. 17 But I [am] poor and needy; [yet] the Lord thinketh upon me: thou [art] my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.
In verse 10 we see the Messianic declaration regarding testimony and demonstration of God’s goodness. When you have a testimony you have to make a decision whether or not you are going to declare God’s goodness. Testimony and demonstration have a cost connected with them. Jesus declared the goodness of God and was crucified for His labors. When you experience the righteousness of God and the goodness of God you do become a target in the process. Make a decision to be faithful to show forth the favor of God to those who will be encouraged in so doing.
In verses 11-14 we see that when testimony and demonstration of God’s goodness comes forth – now the writer is surrounded by trouble and difficulty. Did Jesus have this experience? On the cross certainly but in His life as well. In Mark 4:38 when the ship was tossed by a great storm and the disciples feared for their life – Jesus was asleep in the bow of the boat. We always tend to think of Jesus’ sleeping but we forget that He was in the boat. Just because the fact of the storm was not causing Jesus to be terrified doesn’t mean that He wasn’t going through the exact same situation that the disciples were. What was the difference? Jesus responded differently than the disciples because His trust was in the Father. When you give testimony of God’s goodness there will at times be a trial or affliction immediately thereafter. Jesus had just finished preaching to a great multitude and giving one of the most memorable teachings of His ministry. The next thing that happens is upheaval. So don’t count it strange that you make testimony of the goodness of God and wind up being battered by a storm in life. Just take a nap. Just curl up with Jesus on His pillow and wait for the “immediately at land” experience!
In verse 15 the writer consigns his persecutors and critics to the disposition of the court of heaven. Critics have to be addressed. Just because you don’t answer them and engage with them doesn’t mean you don’t take them into account and bring them before God in prayer. We regularly do 2 things in prayer: 1.) We lay our critics before the Lord in prayer and bless them, and ask God to occupy them away from us. 2.) We do as v. 16 suggests, we bless those who stand with us and favor the purposes of God being worked out in our life.
In the final analysis as verse 17 affirms we are totally dependent upon God. If we are delivered it is by God’s hand and not our own strength. If we are saved it is because we looked to God and not to man as our source. If we are helped it is because we waited upon God, but knowing our own frailty, along with the writer of the psalm we ask that God delay not and tarry not in coming to our aid.
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