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;(Ps. 40:6-17 NIV)
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
you are my God, do not delay.
The Psalmist is not in any way opposed to the offering of sacrifices. The offering of sacrifices was the pattern of worship that God had introduced. The problem was the mindless and heartless offering of sacrifices. Mere formalism was not acceptable to God.
“‘These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules. ‘”(Matt. 15:8-9 NIV)
The Psalmist had his ears opened by the Lord. Literally it means that the Lord dug open the Psalmist’s ears. The opening ear indicates a listening, teachable spirit that is prepared to implement in our lives all that God says in His word.
Many had focused on the form of the service, the burnt offerings and sin offerings but had failed to understand that God sought the heart of the worshipper. The Psalmist offers himself to God – ‘Here I am, I have come.’ The Psalmist had heard with his ears what was required, and he has presented himself to God, prepared to conform his life to everything that God has revealed. His desire is to do God’s will and his heart if full of God’s law. That doesn’t just happen automatically. In Psalm 1 the Psalmist reveals his habit of meditating on God’s law, day and night. If we want to achieve that then there is exercise required on our part, if the word of God is going to abide in our hearts.
The Psalmist was blessed and he had to share it with others. He proclaims the righteousness of God to the assembly of God’s people. The Lord is his witness that he has not remained silent. He did not just keep this in his own heart as a private thing, but he speaks and proclaims God’s faithfulness and salvation. The great commission given to the church is that we should go into all the world and preach the Gospel. We are not to conceal God’s love and truth, these are not esoteric teachings, but for the benefit of all who will hear and obey.
The Psalmist has reflected on the past in the first ten verses, now he looks forwards to new challenges that he will face. On the basis of the many wonders that the Lord has done, the Psalmist asks for fresh mercy and that love and truth will continue to protect him. No matter what age we reach, we never come to a point when we just depend on past mercies; we need to seek the Lord anew for help for today.
Why does the mood of the Psalm change so suddenly in v12. Troubles, sins abounding and his heart, that moments ago was full of the Lord’s word, is now failing him. The Puritans speak frequently of their experience of walking with God, and the closer they came to God the more aware they became of their sinfulness. The Psalmist knows the joy of the Lord but that didn’t mean that the enemy and challenges went away. The consequences of sin has a paralysing effect on us. In our walk with God we should never become complacent about our sin. We never reach a stage in our walk with God where we can feel that we have arrived. There is a sense of urgency with the Psalmist asking God to be pleased to save him and come quickly to help. The Psalmist is committed to praying only for the will of God. Only if it pleases God does he seek deliverance. He prays that his enemies will be put to shame for what they have attempted to do and that they have failed.
When God’s kingdom suffers, we can pray for the downfall of those who oppose the work of the Kingdom and pray ‘Your kingdom come.’ When God comes to the aid of His people then they can rejoice in God’s salvation.
We might have thought having read the first ten verses that the Psalmist was spiritually rich. There is no show of false piety with the Psalmist. He continues to acknowledge his poverty and need of God. God alone is his helper and deliverer, and he pleads for God not to delay in coming to help him.
Lord we thank You that You bless us and enable us to know the joy of salvation. But Lord whatever we learn and whatever blessings we receive, we still need You to deliver us from ourselves and from those who would oppose Your kingdom. Lord God come quickly to the aid of Your people for we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen