Theme: Prayer for Future Deliverance
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
The final section of this psalm is a prayer for future deliverance (vv. 11-17), which is particularly interesting in this context. David had been in a situation so hopeless that he could only adequately describe it as being in a slimy, muddy pit. He had waited for God, and God had delivered him, lifting him out of the pit and setting his feet on a rock. Yet now, even though he had been delivered from great trouble, as recounted in verses 1-3, Israel’s beloved king and poet still continues to have trouble and needs further help. In fact, as he writes about it, he knows that he is at least partly to blame since his “sin” has been part of the problem (v. 12). What poignant cries these are:
“Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD.”
“For troubles without number surround me. My sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.”
“Be pleased, O LORD, to save me; O LORD, come quickly to help me.”
“O my God, do not delay.”
It is a way of saying that life is one long trouble. Should we be surprised at this? Hardly! Ours is a sinful, evil world. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” But he added, “Take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
That is worth remembering, isn’t it? Troubles, yes. Pessimism, no. There can be no pessimism for us, because Jesus has overcome the world and we are now destined to be more than conquerors in him.
I think this is exactly what David felt as he got to the end of this psalm. He is asking God for help, but he is not discouraged. The tone is optimistic because of his former deliverance by God. And the ending ties in with the beginning in another way too. At the start he is waiting patiently for God. Here at the end he is still waiting, knowing that future deliverances will come.
“Poor and needy”? Yes, we will always be that. But we know that the Lord does think of us. We know that he is our help. We confess it: “You are my help and my deliverer.” We ask, “O my God, do not delay.”
What other psalms can you find that show the writer’s crying out to God for help. What do they teach us about God’s character?
How does God help us when we’re in difficult circumstances?
Application: Have you been in a pit for a long time, and have grown weary of praying to the Lord for deliverance? What have you learned from this psalm that will help you to persevere and wait in hope for the Lord to give you his deliverance?
For Further Study: To see how Paul handled a particular personal difficulty, download for free and listen to James Boice’s message, “These Earthly Thorns.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)