Theme: A Joyful Testimony
In this psalm we learn from the life of David what we must do when we find ourselves in pits of various kinds.
Scripture: Psalm 40:1-17
Yesterday we concluded by mentioning the first of a number of slimy pits that can afflict us. Today we list three others.
The pit of defeat. Some people have a very different kind of pit from which they need to be lifted. It is the pit of personal defeat, whether at work or school or in the home or in some other setting or relationship. Some people would say that their entire lives have been one long and unending defeat. They have never succeeded at anything.
I do not want to trivialize your discouragement by making light of it. But I can tell you this. God does have things he wants you to succeed at, and he will enable you to succeed at those, even though they may be different from what you are doing now. The place to begin is where David began. He began by laying his problem before the Lord. I repeat that I do not know what David was referring to by his metaphor of the pit, but there was a time early in his life when he could have spoken very graphically of his defeats. No matter what he did he was unable to please King Saul, and Saul in his hatred and jealousy of David ruthlessly hounded the young man from place to place. It was many years before the Lord intervened to remove Saul and eventually bring David to the throne. If you are defeated, bring your defeats to God. Wait on God. David “waited patiently for the LORD.” That is how Psalm 40 begins (v. 1). If you wait patiently, you too will learn that God has important things for you to do, and he will give you significant victories in his own perfect time.
The pit of bad habits. Other people are stuck in a pit of bad habits. Some of these habits are terribly destructive, like addictive drugs. Others are merely harmful, like an uncontrolled temper, patterns of self-pity, laziness or over-eating. Bad habits can be broken. New habits can take their place. But where are you going to learn these new habits? The best place is from God, who has made you in his image and wants to develop you into the fullness of the character of Jesus Christ. If that is to happen, you must turn to him and seek his help.
The pit of circumstances. A final example of a slimy pit is circumstances, like the pattern of severe trials the Apostle Paul mentions in 1 and 2 Corinthians. These were not sin, or defeats necessarily, or even the result of bad habits. It was just the opposite. Paul had been persecuted because of his stand for Jesus Christ.
Nevertheless, as he says, “Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily pressure of my concern for all the churches” (cf. 1 Cor. 4:9-13; 2 Cor. 6:4-10).
Circumstances like those could be a pit for any man. Yet Paul sought help from God, and God answered. Though he did not change the circumstances, he did help Paul so he was able to say that “we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8, 9).
David’s testimony in respect to his own difficult and seemingly hopeless circumstances is that God heard him and helped him step by step. It is what verses 1-3 are all about. He says that God did five things: 1) God turned to him, noticing his plight; 2) God heard his cry; 3) God lifted him out of the pit; 4) God set his feet on a rock, giving him a firm place to stand; and 5) God placed a new song of praise in his mouth.
In addition to the pits of sin, defeat, bad habits, or circumstances, can you think of any other pits into which we as Christians can fall?
How have you experienced any of these pits?
Application: Review the five things David testifies the Lord did for him. Recount how God did the same for you when you were in your own pit of great difficulty.