Psalm 40 is a song of triumph and a cry of distress. God’s past deliverance (vv. 1–3) infuses David with hope for the future (vv. 11–12) and informs his present request: “O LORD, make haste to help me!” (v. 13).
At an unspecified point in David’s life, God extracted him from a “pit of destruction” (v. 2). This leads him to praise God. Verse 5 is the crescendo:
You have multiplied, O LORD my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.
Yet verses 11–15 indicate that David is waist-deep in a pit of destruction . . . again. Take note: God’s grace in David’s life didn’t make him impervious to attacks. So how did David persevere through these adversities?
The answer is found in verses 7–8:
Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart” (vv. 7–8).
In response to God’s deliverance, David offers himself to the Lord. He viewed his trial as a fresh opportunity to consecrate his life to God. We must do the same.
But there’s more going on here: The author of Hebrews places David’s words in the mouth of the greater David—Jesus Christ (Heb. 10:5–10). Unlike David, Jesus offered his life to his Father with sinless perfection.
He said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34). For the rest of us (including David), there is always some reluctance to obey. Our motives are rarely, if ever, entirely pure. Not so with Jesus. He loved God’s law and found a deep and abiding joy in keeping it. Why? “[F]or the joy that was set before him he endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2). The joy on the other side of the cross was the glory of God in the redemption of his people. That’s you and me.
Psalm 40 reminds us that God’s grace doesn’t make the hard things go away. Instead, God calls us to a life of trust-filled surrender and promises to deliver us from evil.* The death and resurrection of his Son prove it.
* The beautiful phrase “trust-filled surrender” comes from Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 4, Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation, ed. John Bolt, trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 105.