Read | Psalm 40
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 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 the Lord
and put their trust in him.
Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
but my ears you have opened—
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, my God;
your law is within my heart.”
I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, Lord,
as you know.
I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly.
Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
Be pleased to save me, Lord;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.
May all who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
be appalled at their own shame.
But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The Lord is great!”
But as for me, I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
You are my God, do not delay.
Respond | Tom Dearduff
Slow down and look at this psalm in its entirety. We find that its writer opens with the fact that the Lord has already saved him, but it closes with a cry for help. It would almost read better backwards: a cry for help leads to worship and ends in salvation. But that’s just not how it is written. The psalmist transcends his immediate situation and begins with the proclamation that—although he asks the Lord to “come quickly to help”—he is nevertheless safe with God as his guide.
Are we able to say, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord” in the same breath that we proclaim that God is “our help and our deliverer”? Can we worship God, even when “troubles without number surround us”? These are not opposite claims. God is good in every moment of life, in the triumphs and the defeats, in sickness and in health, no matter our circumstances. Whatever happens today, remember that “The Lord is great!”
Holy Spirit, pierce our turmoil with peace and our despair with joy. Saturate our lives with a goodness that never fades. Give us the courage to proclaim the new song you put in our mouths. Come quickly, for “You are our God, do not delay.”