Faith in the Real World
Jim Corbett, Director of Pastoral Care
Walker Baptist Medical Center
One of the things I appreciate about the Psalms are the very human ups and downs in the lives of the individuals who wrote these wonderful songs. The 40th Psalm actually begins as a Psalm of Praise (1-11) in which the psalmist testifies:
I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.
(Psalms 40:1-3; RSV)
Have any of us not felt at some point like we were caught in a pit with our feet in a miry bog, not able to get our footing, not able to climb out. When deliverance comes the author confesses that God placed within him a new song of praise to God. He tells everyone that God has saved him.
He reveals a new understanding “Sacrifice and offering You do not desire” (v. 6), his gratitude and obedience take him another direction:
I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your law is within my heart.
I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation;
see, I have not restrained my lips, as You know , O Lord.
I have not hidden Your saving help within my heart.
I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
I have not concealed Your steadfast love, and Your faithfulness
from the great congregation.
(Psalms 40:8-10; RSV)
The psalmist is changed, the good news of his deliverance has to burst out of him, and the law is literally in his gut. The Psalm continues with the author’s plea in verse 11:
Do not, O Lord, withhold Your mercy from me; Let Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness keep me safe forever.
The remainder of the 40th Psalm reveals that evil threatens; the authors own past iniquities are catching up with him and his heart is failing him. The uniqueness of this Psalm is normally the Lament comes first, and then moves to praise. Not here where you first hear of faith coming from deliverance and the natural praise for the deliverer followed by faith dealing with real life. The author still has problems like all of us. Life is a series of ups and downs. The realism of the Psalm is what caught my imagination today. God is just as surely trustworthy in times of joy and in times of trouble.
The Psalm ends with faith and hope in verse 17: “You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.” Amen.