Psalm 40 TALK: The Great Deliverance of God’s Forgiveness

(All bible quotes from The Holy Bible, New International Version)

PSALM 40 TALK: THE GREAT DELIVERANCE OF GOD’S FORGIVENESS

                               (THE RIGHT WAY TO RESPONDING TO GOD’S FORGIVENESS)

INTRODUCTION

The first time I became aware of this wonderful Psalm was when I was on the home staff of a missionary organisation called The Church Missionary society. I had met the famous missionary doctor writer named Dr. Paul White who made up many famous stories of African jungle animals that explained and presented the Christian Gospel. I heard him tell the story of, “The Trap” which involved a little antelope name Dic Dic that fell into a jungle trap. He had strayed from the safety of the elephant named Tembo. The little antelope was in danger of being caught by the hunter who had set the trap and other animals like Boohoo the Hippopotamus (who could only quote rules about jungle traps) and Toto the monkey(who was not strong enough to pull him out) failed to help him. Then along came Tembo the elephant who lifted him out of the muddy trap by using his trunk. Paul White then referred to the opening verses of this Psalm that speak of how David waited patiently on the Lord who lifted him out of a slimy pit and set him upon firm ground.

David is using poetic language to describe how God had delivered him from the trap of sin by his love and forgiveness. The Psalm fits well in the time of David’s battles with King Saul or when he was on the run from his rebellious Son Absalom. David was on the run from both King Saul and his rebellious son Absalom at different times of his life and both sought to catch him and kill him. During the eight years when David was on the run from Saul he was delivered from certain death on many occasions. Psalms 30 to 40 have referred on a number of occasions to these escapes. Like Psalm 31 which is set in the context of David’s escape from Keliah and Psalm 34 which is set in the context of David’s escape from the Philistine town of Gath. These 11 Psalms also speak of David’s deliverance from the trap of sin through God’s loving forgiveness. Psalm 30 kicks off this section of book 1 with the great sin of David ordering a count of his possible and actual fighting men a direct violation of God’s law and 70,000 die in a plague before David pleads for forgiveness and God stops the death’s in Israel. Psalms 32, 33 and 38 look like they were written in the context of David’s sins of Adultery and murder where David pleads again for God’s mercy and forgiveness and finds it.

Psalm 40 then seems to be a good conclusion to the themes and teachings of Psalms 30 to 40 and I believe the original editors of the book of Psalms chose this Psalm to be placed here because of its obvious conclusion to the teachings of Psalms 30 to 40. These Psalms teach us about how we need to trust and wait on God for his forgiveness that will deliver us from our many sins and help us in our battles with our enemies. Psalm 41 seems to be a good conclusion to the entire first book of Psalms and we will look at this in our next Psalm study.

Let me take the time to briefly remind you of how the theme of God’s forgiveness has been dealt with throughout Psalms 30 to 40.

  1. Psalm 30 – The joy of God’s forgiveness
  2. Psalm 31 –  The confidence we can have in the forgiving God
  3. Psalm 32 –  The inner power and happiness of knowing God’s forgiveness
  4. Psalm 33 –  The true worship which comes from knowing God’s forgiveness
  5. Psalm 34 –  The right testimony of declaring God’s forgiveness
  6. Psalm 35 –  The battles of life and how God’s forgiveness gives us victory
  7. Psalm 36 –  The knowledge of God through knowing his forgiveness
  8. Psalm 37 –  The command to wait patiently on God who forgives us
  9. Psalm 38 –  The role of confession in appropriating God’s forgiveness
  10. Psalm 39 –  The sins of the tongue and how God forgives us of them
  11. Psalm 40 –  The right way of responding to his forgiveness

I have broken this Psalm into three sections with the theme of God’s forgiveness in mind:

1.     GOD’ GREAT DELIVERANCE STATED  (1 – 5)

2.     GOD’S GREAT DELIVERANCE DECLARED (6 – 10)

3.     GOD’S GREAT DELIVERANCE SOUGHT AGAIN (11 – 17)

 

1.     GOD’S GREAT DELIVERANCE STATED (1 -5)

The first section states vividly what it means to know God’s great deliverance and forgiveness for it states what it actually is. I must acknowledge the commentator Michael Wilcock for his excellent break down of this Psalm and I will use his divisions for opening up the verses in each of the three sections of this Psalm. His divisions for this first section are,

1.     Looking back to what God has done (1 – 3)

2.     Looking up to the God who forgives (4 – 5)

 

1.     Looking back to what God has done (1 -3)

As I pointed out in the introduction David used the image of being trapped in a deep pit, like a jungle trap to describe what being caught up in sin is like. Paul White called it, “The Sin Trap”. David knew full well what sin did to a person as we have seen from many of the Psalms in this section. To him it was a desperate uncomfortable place, captured well by the image of a slimy and muddy pit. The prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 38 literally was put in such a place and Jeremiah 38: 6 says, (The Holy Bible, New International Version)

“They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud and Jeremiah sank down into the mud”.

In such a place the more you struggled to get out the more you would sink down. Sin is like that the more you try to stop doing it the more you seem to do it and the worse it gets. In this terrible state David says he:

“Waited patiently for the Lord” (verse 1)

Three times before David speaks of waiting patiently or words to that affect in Psalms 30 – 40, Psalm 37:7, 38:15 and 39:7. John Calvin points out the actual Hebrew could be translated, “In waiting I waited” so David really found himself in a desperate situation that lasted a long time and he then says,

“He turned to me and heard my cry”. (verse 1)

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire” (verse 2)

The sense of liberation and peace is what is being described here and it does not end with just this as David goes on to say,

“He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand”

Our lives before we come to Christ are best described by the Lord himself in Matthew 7: 26 – 27,

“But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

We might say that before we come to Christ our lives are all over the place and disaster is either struck or about to strike. Like poor Jeremiah in the pit he was slipping and sliding as he fought to get out of there. However Jesus tells us what David is saying in this Psalm about what responding to God’s word of love and forgiveness is like in Mathew 7: 24 – 25,

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock”.

David goes even further in his description of what God’s deliverance or forgiveness was like for him when he writes,

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord”. (Verse 3)

For David writing new songs was not a strange experience as we have over 73 original works of David in the book of Psalms alone. But Leupold points out there is three possible interpretations of this concept of a new song:

  • “Singing the old hymn with deeper understanding
  • Fresh colour to and old hymn
  • The composition of a song entirely new”.

Whatever David is referring to here his deliverance experience caused him to sing. Music has been described by many as “The expression of the emotions of the heart” and when we sing with meaning or from the heart we are expressing our true understanding of what God has done for us in delivering us from the power of sin and death.

David used his music and singing to do two things:

  • Give praise to his God and
  • Show others how they can, “see and fear and put their trust in the Lord”.

2.     Looking up to the God who forgives (4 – 5)

David now continues his statement of his experience of the deliverance of the Lord by encouraging his hearers to do as he has done, namely look up to God and away from the ways of general sinful humanity, he writes in verse 4,

“Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud” (verse 4)

These words remind us of Psalm 1 where the way of the righteous or Godly man is contrasted with way of the ungodly man.

The Godly man is blessed if he goes God’s way but the ungodly man is heading for destruction. The bible makes it clear that sin is when men and women look away from God and go their own way. This going your own way is pride or arrogance that is expressed by people when they say they can live their lives better without God.

But David knew what pride and arrogance leads to as we particularly saw in Psalm 30 where sin led to the plague and death of 70,000 Israelites. This happened when David disobeyed God and counted his fighting men. In Psalm 30 verse 6 David tells us of his sin of pride,

“When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken”

David had to go to God in sackcloth and ashes fallen on his face begging for forgiveness and then God stopped the plague and David and his people were delivered.

But this was one of many times David knew what God’s deliverance or forgiveness was like and he speaks of this in the next verse,

“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare”.

We should learn to count our blessings but realize that God has done so much for us in Christ that we could never fully explain them all. As Paul puts it in his prayer for the Church in Ephesus in Ephesians 3: 20 – 21,

 “ Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen”.

(2)  GOD’S GREAT DELIVERANCE DECLARED (6 – 10)

Now David moves from stating his great deliverance or forgiveness by God to telling us how and why we should declare it. By adapting and using Wilcok’s divisions again I have broken this section into two parts:

1.     Praising God from within  (6 – 8)

2.     Praising God in public      (9 – 10)

 

(1)  Praising God from within (6 – 8)

What then is the right response to what God has done for us?

David has already spoken about singing God’s praises so that many will see or learn to fear God and trust in him in verse 3 and speaks of recounting the many wonders God has done in verse 5. But now he tells us more specifically what we should do if we really believe God has delivered us through his forgiveness.

In Old Testament terms this should lead David to worship God with a sacrifice. Sacrifice was the Old Testament way of worshipping God laid down in the first five books of the bible called by David and others “The Law of God”.

However David knew two horrific experiences of the danger of misplaced sacrificing.

The first came from his predecessor King Saul who in 1 Samuel 15 offered a sacrifice to God at a time he was actually disobeying God’s direct commands. Saul had been told to destroy the evil and ungodly Amalekites who attacked Moses and the people when they were in the desert and escaping from Egypt. Saul does a bad job of this and allows much of the booty from the Amalakites to be taken by his men and he also spares the life of the King of the Amalekites. Then Samuel comes to Saul and tells Saul of God’s displeasure. Saul tells Samuel he used the best of the captured sheep to sacrifice to the Lord and Samuel says this to Saul,

Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”

The second time David realized the danger and inadequacy of Sacrifice was after his twin sins of Adultery and murder when the prophet Nathan exposes David to God’s knowledge of his sins. In Psalm 51 David reveals how he knows God does not want sacrifice from him, Psalm 51 : 16 – 17,

“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, isa broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise”.

David knowing the shortfalls of Sacrificial worship states clearly in verses 6  his desire to worship God properly in his heart with true faith and obedience,

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire but my ears you have pierced burnt offerings and sin offeringsyou did not require. (verse 6)

David wants to express his praise and worship for the deliverance of God first and for most from a true heart not like King Saul did but like he did in Psalm 51 with a “broken and contrite heart”. Leupold put it this way,

“Sacrifices are only meaningful when done in a spirit that corresponds with the nature of the sacrifice offered”.

Much has been written about the meaning of “but my ears have pierced” and the two main lines of thought are:

  1. The concept of the mark of a devoted slave being a pierced ear as spoken of in Exodus 21: 6 and
  2. The concept of a “pierced ear” being an expression for and open ear to listen as in Isaiah 50: 5.

“The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious: I have not drawn back”.

The second seems to be the better as it fits in with what David goes on to talk about in the next verse,

“Then I said, “Here I am, I have come it is written about me in the scroll”. (verse 7)

This verse has its problems in understanding as well. What is David trying to say when speaks of having come? And what does he mean by “it is written in the scroll”?

Kidner believes the expression “Here I am, I have come”, is similar to Isaiah’s expression in Isaiah 6: 8, “Here am I, send me”. David is saying I am ready to worship you in my heart. In the matter of the expression, “It is written about me in the scroll” I discovered a very interesting passage in what David would have called the book or scroll of the Law. It is Deuteronomy 17: 14 – 20 which is a passage that spells out the law concerning future Kings in Israel. Verses 18 and 19 say this,

“When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees.”

Could David be referring to this scroll he would have had when he says, “it is written about me in the scroll”? (verse 7)

If this is what he is talking about then he is saying I am doing what God’s law really tells me to do I am praising and worshipping God sincerely in my heart. The next verse seems to back this up when it says,

“ I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.” (verse 8)

This passage also appears in the New Testament in Hebrews 10: 5 – 7 and I will go into more explanation of this passage and it’s significants in the New Testament section of this study. But for now I will simply say that the full meaning of these verses do not fully come unto they are for filled in the coming Messiah. Jesus brought about the full understanding and fulfilment of the whole sacrificial system by becoming the perfect and final sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Only he fully lived up to the full requirements of the law as David sinned and as he says in verse 12,

“My sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see”.

(2)  Praising God in public   (9 – 10)

David now moves from private inward praise of the great deliverance or forgiveness of God to an open a clear public praising of God.

In verse 9 and10 he writes,

“I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips as you know, O Lord. I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and truth from the great assembly”.

From what we read of the great King David see a man who was not afraid of holding back his emotions and thoughts on God and other things as well.

After all he was the king who stripped down to simple clothes and danced before the Lord or rather before the Ark of the Covenant as it was carried into Jerusalem. Here in these verses David lets loose in the great gathering of the people of God, “the assembly” with amazing and powerful words about the righteousness of God from which he implies flows God’s faithfulness, salvation, love and truth. Leupold captures the significance of what David is proclaiming with these words,

“God’s righteousness is God’s marvelous attribute which leads him both to deal graciously with those who faithfully serve him and seek his countenance as well as to punish the evildoer”.

From God’s righteousness, David is saying flows God’s love to him seen in his recent deliverance, which is, bound up in his forgiveness for his many sins. David worshipped God in his heart but this led to worshipping God in public in a right and God glorifying manner.

What can we learn from this section of the Psalm?

Firstly we should heed the warning that our public worship must be a true expression of our contrite and devoted hearts and realize that worship that is simply people putting on a good show is not liked or accepted by God.

Secondly if we truly worship God in our hearts then this should show itself in God centered, God glorifying and God proclaiming worship.

3.     GOD’S GREAT DELIVERANCE SOUGHT AGAIN (11 – 17)

For some the final section of this Psalm comes as a surprise as David moves from praising God for his deliverance and forgiveness to asking for it again. I do not find this strange at all as I know from my life’s battles with the world the flesh and the devil that the battle is never over in this life. As Christians we experience help or deliverance from time to time but this does not mean we gain total cessation from problems and difficulties in this life. When we come to Christ we learn that our sins are forgiven but this does not mean we no longer sin and do not need God’s forgiveness again and again.

David escaped from Saul’s grasp on many occasions but this did not mean Saul did not attack him again. For eight long years Saul pursued David and time and time again God delivered David from Saul’s clutches.

So David moves from praise for a great time of Deliverance to the need for further help for God’s deliverance and forgiveness. This time Wilcock divides this last section in to three sections, which I have adapted with my own headings that go like this,

1.     Prayer and confession to God (11 – 13)

2.     Help and protection from God (14 – 15)

3.     Praise and worship for God (16 – 17)

 

1.  Prayer and confession to God (11 – 13)

Here David moves to prayer as he sees yet again that he needs God’s help and forgiveness in his on going battles of life. His prayer starts with a statement of faith,

“Do not withhold your mercy from me, O Lord; may your love and your truth always protect me.” (verse 11)

David never assumes that God will do what he wants God to do for him even though David states on many occasions that God can be relied upon to help and save us. As we saw in David’s waiting on God verses like Psalm 38: 15,

“I wait for you, O Lord: you will answer, O Lord my God”.

Or the confident words of Psalm 26: 3,

“For your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth”

Note also how David speaks of God’s protection coming from his love and truth. The salvation of the bible is not a man made invention like other religions of this world but rather it comes from a loving God who reveals his love to us through his word (The Truth).

This is why it is so important that Jesus is “The word become flesh” (John 1:14) therefore he is not just another religious man pointing to God but he is God become man and as John goes on to say,

“And (Jesus) made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”.

David now moves to yet another confession of his many sins,

“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”. (verse 12)

David sees a direct association between his sins and his troubles. It is as though his sins have caught up with him in the persons of his many enemies. So often we can see how sins catch up with people. Sexual sins lead often to sexual diseases, drunkenness to sickness or violence and many other sins leads to people suffering from all kinds of mental and emotional breakdowns. We might not see a direct link between our sins and our problems but so often the problems we face in this life are one way or another a result of our sins or the sins others.

This world is full of people sinning and each person’s sins number as David puts it,

“More than the hairs of my head” (verse 12)

This leaves David to say as we all say from time to time,

“My heart fails within me” (verse 12)

But David believed that his God was a loving and merciful God, who longs to forgive us as we see from his words in the next verse,

“Be pleased O Lord, to save me; O Lord, come quickly to help me” (verse 13)

So David as he did in Psalm 38 comes to God in confession and faith begging God to forgive him and deliver him from the consequences of his many sins.

2.  Help and protection from God (14 – 15)

Now David includes in his prayer deliverance from his enemies. David faced danger from his enemies right throughout his long reign but the most dangerous times he faced danger from his enemies was the eight years on the run from Saul and the number of weeks of being on the run from his rebellious son Absalom. On both these occasions many people in David’s own kingdom turned on him as they supported either Saul or Absalom.

David cries out to the Lord for deliverance from his enemies in verses 14 and 15. The fact David links this problem with his enemies to his many sins could suggest that this was at the time of Absalom as Absalom’s rebellion was linked to his sins of adultery and murder years before when David was told by the prophet Nathan that from within his own household would come calamity.

So David prays,

“May all who seek to take my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire me ruin be turned back in disgrace. May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha! Be appalled at their own shame”. (verses 14 – 15)

The last time David used the words “Aha! Aha” was when he was speaking about his enemies is in Psalm 35: 21 which seems to fit better in the context of his long battles with Saul and the people loyal to Saul who conspired to kill him for a long eight year period.

It is good to note that David does not pray for the destruction of his enemies here but rather that they be put to shame and confusion so that they will turn back to God. David had ample opportunities to kill King Saul but he refused to kill the King God had appointed even though Saul was now rejected by God and in rebellion to God.

We might find ourselves in serious conflict with those who oppose the Christian Gospel but we must not act in anger and rage but follow the advice of Jesus and other New Testament writers and seek to love our enemies. Peter speaking about how we should live in this life even when we face opposition from others says this in 1 Peter 3: 8 – 9,

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing”.

3.  Praise and worship for God (16 – 17)

Finally David returns to words of praise in the final two verses. In verse 16 he returns to the opening praise for God’s deliverance.

“But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, “The Lord be exalted” (verse 16)

Note David has not yet received God’s deliverance from his latest request for it comes as part of his prayer for that deliverance. David seems to have practiced the very New Testament teaching of praising God in all situations. As Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5: 18,

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

We have seen in many Psalms that David can go from a very low point in his emotions as he pleads with God for help and forgiveness and then rise to praise and exaltation of the God who he believes has saved and forgiven him. This is real faith in action and to praise God and seek to exalt him when things are not going well in our life proves that we really trust and believe in God.

The final verse David shows his true humility and faith in God when he declares,

“Yet I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay”. (verse 17)

Right throughout the Psalm David has featured the concept of his God being his deliverer and so he ends the Psalm with this description of the God. God is his “help and deliverer”.

God has lifted him up from despair and difficulty to a secure place of peace and prosperity from which he could praise and exalt his God. Based on what God had done for him in the past he now confidently goes to God in prayer and asked again for his help and forgiveness. His final request is that God will do this quickly for him.

CONCLUSION

In Psalm 40 David shows us yet again what God is like. He is a God of love and forgiveness. He shows us how we should approach him. We should approach him in prayer and trust in a God who has shown us in the past that he longs to help and save us.

Finally he has shown us how we should show our gratitude for his love and forgiveness. We should show this by truly believing in him in our hearts and by professing our faith in him in his church and in the world at large even when things are not going well for us.

A poem/ song based on Psalm 40

GOD REACHED DOWN

 God reached down to me

And lifted me up on high

Set my feet on the rock

Of his is love that cannot die.

Down in a pit of miry clay

I called out loud to him

I was lost and sinking fast

When God reached down to me

By sending his Son to die for my sin

He raised me and set me free.

 

Chorus

 

God forgives, so we now live

God is love, for he reached down from above

God sent his Son, so that everyone

Who believes, God forgives.

Now I sing a new song

A hymn of praise to the Lord

Many can also now know

The power of his word.

Blessed is he who trusts in God

And turns from selfish pride.

For many are the wonders of the Lord

That he has planned to give.

So I will simply praise his name

And turn to him and live.

Chorus

 

So I worship the Lord

With a sacrifice of praise

He looks into our hearts

To see if we long for his ways.

I desire to serve the Lord

His righteousness I will proclaim.

I’ll speak of his love and faithfulness

And tell others the salvation plan.

Praise his name in his church

And tell every women and man.

Chorus

 

I plead to you O Lord

For your mercy to forgive

For many are my sins

That plague the life I live.

Please save me I trust in you

For you are my deliverer.

I will rejoice and praise you Lord

For you are a God who cares

May are those who know your love

And share your life giving word.

Chorus

By: Jim Wenman

 

PART 2 THREE NEW TESTAMENT APPLICATIONS OF PSALM 40

I mentioned in the introduction to this study of Psalm 40 that this Psalm is a fitting conclusion to Psalms 30 to 40 that have featured the theme of God’s forgiveness. So in this New Testament application I will focus us on the three sections of the Psalm and particularly how they relate to the theme of God’s forgiveness.

1.  GOD’ GREAT DELIVERANCE STATED  (1 – 5)

2.  GOD’S GREAT DELIVERANCE DECLARED (6 – 10)

3.  GOD’S GREAT DELIVERANCE SOUGHT AGAIN (11 – 17)

The New Testament sections will become:

1.  GOD’S GREAT DELIVERANCE IS FOUNDED ON THE ROCK OF CHRIST (Matthew 7: 24 – 27)

2.  GOD’S GREAT DELIVERANCE IS DECLARED IN THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST (Hebrews 10: 1 – 12)

3.  GOD’S GREAT DELIVERANCE IS SOUGHT THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST Hebrews 12: 1 – 3)

 1.  GOD’S GREAT DELIVERANCE IS FOUNDED ON THE ROCK OF CHRIST (Matthew 7: 24 – 27)

In Psalm 40 verses 1 to 3 we saw how David used the image of a slimy and muddy pit and being trapped in sin was likened to being trapped in that pit. Deliverance from this sinful state was being like God reaching down and lifting us out of the pit and being set upon a rock or a firm place to stand. Jesus spoke about people building their lives on him and his word being like a person building their house on a rock and those not building their lives on him and his word being like a builder building their house on sand.

This appears in Matthew 7: 24 : 27 and I would like to highlight three things from this passage:

1.  What Jesus wants us to build our lives upon

2.  What building our lives on him leads too

3.   What not building our lives on him leads too

 

1.   What Jesus wants us to build our lives upon

In the verses leading up to verse 24 Jesus is warning his listeners about the danger of false prophets or teachers. He says these false teachers will come and appear to be genuine and even convincing. Now he makes it clear what we should believe and build our lives upon. Jesus describes this in theses words,

“Everyone who hears these word’s of mine and puts them into practice”

So the big test of true teaching is if the teaching is based on the word of Jesus, which we now know, is the word of the New Testament.

The early church took great pains to only accept as the New Testament the books that were the words of Christ or the explanation and application of Christ words written by those who actually knew Christ and applied systematically what they knew Christ taught. This process took some time to accept the Books of James and Hebrews but after much debate, research and prayer the early church accepted these books as the true teachings or applications of the teachings of Christ.

We too must be diligent in our study of the word of God making sure we are not false teachers or believers teaching something not truly found in the teachings of Christ but rather is a faithful representation of what he actually taught.

More than this Jesus tells us we must put his word into action. Note how Jesus describes the false teachers or believers in verse’s 21 – 23,

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

2. What building our lives on him leads too

Jesus then uses the imagery of a builder building a house. The first builder builds his house on rock. The rain comes, water rises and winds blow but because the house is build on solid foundations it does not fall down.

Jesus is telling us here that if we trust in him and his word and put that into action in our lives then we will stand the trials and tribulations of this life. All houses that are built in Australia in more recent years must have their foundations inspected before the new house or building can proceed. This means that modern houses in Australia will not fall down because of bad foundations.

If we build our lives on faith in the Lord Jesus and his word making sure we are living our lives accordingly then we will be like houses build on solid foundations and will stand even when the storms of life come upon us. Particularly we will stand the final storm of all human existence namely the Judgement day of Christ, which Jesus referred to in the previous section.

3. What not building our lives on him leads too

Then Jesus tells us in verse’s 26 and 27 what happens when people refuse to build their lives on him. He describes these people as being like builders who build their houses on sand. If our foundations are not built on solid ground then when the rains come, water rises and the wind blows the house will fall down.

Even as a very young child hearing this parable in Sunday school I understood what Jesus was saying. If people don’t have the sure foundations then life’s trails will sweep them away.

David said he felt he was not trapped in mud and only God could lift him out and make his life secure.

We too are trapped in mud and both mud and sand are not just poor ground to stand upon but they are even worse places to build upon. Jesus came into this world to save us from our sins, which Dr Paul White called, “The Sin Trap” and only Jesus and what he has done for us can lift us out of that trap.

Once we are saved from the sin trap by trusting and believing in Jesus we need to continue to stand on him or follow him because he and his word are the only sure foundation to live by in this life and are the only sure foundation to face the final day of the judgment in the next life.

2. GOD’S GREAT DELIVERANCE IS DECLARED IN THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST  (Hebrews 10: 1 – 12)

Psalm 40 verses 6 and 7 are quoted in the book of Hebrews 10: 5 – 7 with some interesting changes. The Hebrews passage has a lot to teach us about the ideas David had in mind when he first wrote these words and teach us even more about God’s offer of deliverance and forgiveness in Christ.

This passage revealed three main things to me:

1. The need for a better sacrificial system

2. How Christ is the perfect sacrifice for our sins

3. How Christ sacrifice influences us

 

1. The need for a better sacrificial system

 The first five books of the bible, often called the Law or Torah set down the way God wants his people to live and approach him or worship him. These writings lay down a rigid system of sacrifices which the rest of the Old Testament writers seem to point to someone who would make a better way to God and yet still for fill God’s sacrificial requirements. The classic passage on this is Isaiah 53, which comes to a climax in verse 12 with theses words,

“Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors”.

The New Testament and particularly the book of Hebrews presents clearly that the person Isaiah is speaking about is non other than The Lord Jesus Christ. Hebrews 10 and the verses we are looking at speak plainly about how God intended a better sacrificial system to come about through the sending of his son as the once for great sacrifice for our sins. Chapter 10 commences with the words,

“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship”.

By using the verses in Psalm 40 the writer links David’s words on the need for a different type of sacrifice needed by God to the sacrifice of Christ in his death on the cross.

He starts this by saying that,

“When Christ came into the world he said”

 Then we read a version of David’s words in Psalm 40,

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me”

 The author of Hebrews quotes here the Septuagint or Greek translation of these verses, which he would have known in his day. The change in this version is “ear” to “body”. Michael Wilcock explains what this means by these words,

“For when the ear is truly opened to the word of God he will mobilize the whole body to obey it”.

 The writer cleverly links both the incarnation, God becoming man to the full obedience of Christ in one simple statement.

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me”

So the writer to the Hebrews tells us the need for a better sacrificial system in verse 8,

“First he said, ‘Sacrifice and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them (Although the law required them to be made)”.

 2. How Christ is the perfect sacrifice for our sins

This passage says more than how God desires a better sacrificial system but also presents what is the perfect sacrifice for sins he established in Christ.

What many of the Old Testament writers looked forward to was how someone would be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Again the best example of this is Isaiah 53 and in verse’s 4 and 5 we read,

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

 In verse two of this chapter the writer to the Hebrews speaks of the need for this perfect sacrifice in these words,

“If it could (sacrificial system) would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins”.

 The writer takes up the words of Psalm 40: 7 to introduce the idea of Christ being this perfect sacrifice in his verse 7,

“Then I said, “Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll – I have come to do your will, O God”.

 The writer to the Hebrews then goes on to link these words of David in Psalm 40 with these words in verse’s 9 and 10,

“Then he said, ‘Here I am, I have come to do your will’. He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all”.

 The “will” here is the willing obedience of Christ a perfect man to die a horrible death on the cross for us, so that our sins could be forgiven totally something animal sacrifice just could not achieve.

The writer to the Hebrews then goes on to link Jesus not only to the sacrificial animal but the High priest who offered it up. He teaches that since there is no more need for sacrifices for sin there is no more need for a priest to offer it, verses 11 and 12,

“Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God”.

 This then is a remarkable use of David’s words in Psalm 40 as David himself realized that worship offered by sacrifice was not what God really wanted. However he could not offer full and true obedience from his heart because of the sin problem he and all of us suffer from. Only in Jesus could God recognize a full and perfect sacrifice for sin. Through Jesus sacrifice then was that full and perfect sacrifice for sin obtained once and for all time to come.

3.   How Christ sacrifice influences us

 This teaching in Hebrews plays a lot of bearing of what we as bible believing Christians actually believe. Other forms of the Christian faith like the Roman Catholics for instance worship with the mass which they believe is a continual offering up of the blood and body of Christ on what they call the alter. However Hebrews teaches us that this day by day offering of the priest of a sacrifice has been done away by the once and for all perfect sacrifice of God as he states in verse 12,

“But when this priest (Jesus Christ) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.”

 This then should influence both how we live and how we worship our God and King.

How we should live:

 We should live as though God has forgiven us of all sin and when we fall to sin come to God through the cross of Christ asking for forgiveness and knowing it is available because Jesus had died for us. In fact the knowledge that Jesus has died for our sins should inspire us to live lives of gratitude and praise turning away from sin in our lives.

How we should worship

 Our lives should now be turned over to praise for the forgiveness Christ has won for us on Cross and this should be the basis of  our worship. As David realised in Psalm 51 : 16 – 17,

“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifice of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart O God, you will not despise”.

 Paul spoke about how our daily lives lived in sacrificial service to him is our true worship in Romans 12: 1,

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship”.

 So far as what we do when we come together in corporate worship than this too should reflect in some way or another our offering of ourselves to God as living sacrifices inspired by the once and for all sacrifice of Christ. How we actually do this will vary from church to church and culture to culture but the one distinguishing feature will be the emphasis given to the once and for all sacrifice of Christ on the cross of Calvary for it is at the cross all true believers come and are one in Christ.

3.  GOD’S GREAT DELIVERANCE IS SOUGHT THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST Hebrews 12: 1 – 3)

I close with one of my favourite passages of scripture in the New Testament Hebrews 12: 1 – 3. I find this passage is so instructive and so encouraging that I often turn to it when I feel a little overwhelmed by the world, the flesh (my sins) and the devil.

This passage clearly states our faith in Christ offers the deliverance we seek by God in our daily lives. I would like to draw out three things from this passage.

1. The encouragement of many other Christians

2. The encouragement of who Jesus actually is

3. The encouragement of what Jesus has done for us

 

1.   The encouragement of many other Christians

 The previous chapter to Hebrews 12, Hebrews 11, sets down a long list of bible heroes, men and women of faith who demonstrated what faith in God is and what it can achieve. Then in verses 1 of Hebrews 12 we read,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”

 One of the great encouragements I am often made aware of is other Christians and what God has been doing in their lives.

I can go to other countries in the world and meet they’re other Christians whose faith in Christ encourages me to continue having faith in Christ. This why we should both keep reading our bibles and meeting together with other Christians for in the bible we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses and in our Christian gatherings we have another cloud of witnesses to encourage us. When you meet Christians who have stopped reading the bible and stopped meeting together with other Christians you see that they are full of doubt and lack real enthusiasm for Christ. They need the encouragement of the witnesses of the bible and other Christians.

2.  The encouragement of who Jesus is

 The writer to the Hebrews after referring to the great encouragement of other men and women of faith then says in verse 1b,

“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

 Up to the age of 16 I was a member of an athletics club and for eight years I ran many races on the weekends and from time to time at school during the week. I was a fairly good middle distance runner and these words about running with perseverance mean a lot to me. I ran really well when I ran with determination and commitment but on days when I simply did run with determination I was easily beaten and the run was far from enjoyable.

The writer to the Hebrews says that there is a race of life we are in and that God has marked this race out for us. This means God has a plan for our lives but we need to run or live the way God wants us to live. I am now over 60 years of age and I can look back at how God has had a plan for my life and has led me to run my unique race for him.

However the writer then tells us how we actually run this race and who has actually made it possible for us to run it. In verse 2a he writes

 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith”

 We run the race God wants us to run or we live the life God wants us to live by fixing our eyes on Jesus. This means every day of our lives we look to Jesus for help and inspiration to live our lives. I like that movement in the early 1990’s called WWJD or “What would Jesus do” where Christians sought to live their daily lives by living out the motto of WWJD, “What would Jesus do”. This seems to be a practical way of living our lives the way God wants us to live and when a new opportunity or decision of life comes along we need to pray to God through Christ and seek to do what we think Jesus wants us to do.

But why must we fix our eyes on Jesus?

The second half of our text answers this, it is because of who Jesus,

“the author and perfecter of our faith”.

 The writer to the Hebrews is saying that Jesus is the forerunner or the one who has gone before us to make the way for us to go or run. Some say that Jesus is the trailblazer who makes the trail for us and then comes beside us to walk that trail he has made.

3.  The encouragement of what Jesus has done for us

 The second half of verse 2 sets down what Jesus has done for us,

“who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”.

 The way Jesus made for us was by the way of the cross where he died for our sins so that we could be forgiven by God and therefore be accepted by God into heaven and his family on earth. Jesus endured so we can know the joy of God’s forgiveness and this was his joy. However Jesus did not stay dead but God raised him from the dead and he now sits at the right hand of the throne of God.

The writer to the Hebrews believes this is the greatest encouragement we can know and in verse 3 he makes that clear,

“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart”.

 When things get tough in life we should remember how tough it got for Jesus and that he actually endured the suffering he went through to forgive and save us. The writer to the Hebrews says should stop us from growing weary and giving up.

In the last part of Psalm 40 David again turned to God for forgiveness and help and as he prayed to God for this he actually discovered God’s encouragement when he writes in verse 16,

“But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, “The Lord be exalted”.

 May we as we look to our great deliverer or Savoir Jesus Christ do the same exalt his name when we realise both who he is and what he has done for us.

PRAYER:

 Father in heaven we thank you for your Son who is our great deliverer and Savoir for our many sins. Thank you for how he has lifted us up from the sin pit and set our feet upon the rock of his love for us. May we live our lives as an act of self sacrificial worship as we fix our eyes on Your Son the author and perfecter of our faith. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savoir, Amen

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