Psalm 40 — Song of a Savior

In this psalm by David, we see his suffering and deliverance. But we also see the song of our Savior, as he sings about his suffering on the cross and his resurrection.

It starts out with David praising God for his salvation, singing,

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. (1-3)

In the same way, Jesus looks back upon the cross and his sufferings there, and saw his patience rewarded as his Father resurrected him from the dead never to know death again.  Now because of his work,

Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.  (3)

And so they have.  Throughout the years, people have looked to Jesus’ work on the cross and have been saved.

He then says,

Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. (4)

Ever since the time of the Fall, people have either trusted in false idols, or looked to themselves for their salvation.  But the psalmist says here that these things cannot save.  Rather, it is the person who looks upon and puts their trust in the Savior that will be saved.  All this was according to God’s plan that he had laid out before time began.

Then, in verses 6-8, it says,

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; 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, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

This passage is quoted in Hebrews 10, and the writer there comments that while the sacrifices and offerings of the Old Testament were required by law, nevertheless, they were a mere shadow of the work that Christ would do on the cross.

A quick note here.  Many comments have been made on the “piercing of ears” as quoted in the Psalms, and “a body prepared for me” as written in Hebrews.  The reason for the change comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible which the writer of Hebrews quoted.  When the translators changed the Hebrew to Greek, they changed “my ears you have pierced” to “a body you have prepared for me.”

Why they did so is unknown.  Some have claimed that it was a copyist’s mistake.  Others have said that it was a paraphrase, as the Greeks couldn’t understand the meaning of the piercing of ears.  There are numerous other theories, but little agreement, and more qualified people than I have written on this.  Here is one idea I favor, however.

The piercing of ears seems to refer to Mosaic law where if a servant who was to be set free desired instead to stay with his master for life, he would have his ear pierced as a sign of his voluntary, lifelong submission (Deuteronomy 15:16-17)

Perhaps, if the Greek translation did paraphrase here, the idea was that David wanted to serve God forever with the body God had given him. Not because he was forced to.  But because he deeply loved his Father and wanted to please him.

In the same way, Jesus wanted to serve his Father by going to the cross, and the Father provided him a human body to do so. Again, Jesus did this, not because he was forced to, but because he loved his Father and wanted to please him. And now he lives to serve his Father forever. (Romans 6:10; I Corinthians 15:24-28)

Having died for us, he then proclaimed God’s righteousness, his salvation, his truth, and his love to all.  (9-10)

For the final verses, it goes back to the cross, and his suffering there.  Having taken our sins upon himself and counting them as his own, he suffered for us.  (12)

And he begs God not to forget him, but that he would be vindicated before those who hated him, and that God would be glorified by those who loved him.  (13-17)

The Father, of course, answered his prayer, and now because of Jesus we can rejoice in his salvation and truly shout, “The Lord is exalted.”

To that, I say, “Amen.”

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About bkshiroma

I'm from Hawaii, but have been in Japan as a missionary/English teacher since 1995. I'm currently going to a church called Crossroad Nishinomiya, an international church in Nishinomiya, a city right between Kobe and Osaka. Check out their website: crossroad-web.com 私がハワイから来ましたけど1995年に宣教師と英会話の教師として日本に引っ越しました。 今西宮にあるクロスロード西宮という国際の教会に行っています。どうぞ、そのホムページを見てください: crossroad-web.com
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