David A. Davis
January 19, 2020
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Here in Psalm 40, the psalmist echoes the teaching, the wisdom of Psalm 1. “Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path that sinners tread or sit in the seat of scoffers.” (Ps 1) “Happy are those who make the Lord their trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods.” (Ps 40). Here in Psalm 40, the psalmist sounds something like the prophet Amos. “Sacrifice and offering you do not desire but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required” (Ps 40). “I hate I despise your festivals and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies/ Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them.” (Amos 5).
Here in Psalm 40, the psalmist sounds a bit like the Apostle Paul. “[Christ] has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost” (I Tim). “Do not, O Lord, withhold your mercy from me; let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever. For evils have encompassed me without number; my iniquities have overtaken me until I cannot see; they are more the hairs on my head” (Ps 40).
In Psalm 40, the psalmist almost sounds like a preacher. “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” (Ps 40).
Teacher. Prophet. Sinner. Preacher. But the more you read it, Psalm 40, when you read it over and over again, Psalm 40, when you read it from start it finish? It sounds more and more like every one of us. At least everyone one of us, at some point in life.
“I have waited and waited and waited for God to hear my cry. For God to pay attention to my prayer. And God heard. God finally picked me up from the lowest of points, from what felt like a foggy chaos. God lifted me. God really lifted me. I could sing again. I could open my mouth when people around me were singing the hymns. More and more people, sensing the presence and mystery of God in their lives.
Blessed. Blessed are those who put their lives in the hands and heart of God rather than the allure of wealth and power and victory and all stuff. All the idols shaped by the world. The more I ponder your grace, God, the more wondrous your work, your love, your faithfulness for us becomes. It’s not science. It’s not math. It’s not argument. It’s life. And when it comes to life nothing compares to you. Actually, at the end of the day, trying to find the words, trying explain, trying shout from the rooftop about you, it’s never enough. Not enough words. Never enough.
Here’s the wonder…it’s never about what I do for you. It’s not about how religious or pious I can be. You just have me in the book. You have me in the book of life. You have me by name. You have me. Here I am Lord! That’s all. That simple. And you become the purpose of my life. My heart is full of the wonders of your love.
I tell the good news. I live the good news. I tell of what you mean to me to whoever wants to hear, to hear more. I don’t hold back. I don’t hide what you have done for me, what you mean to me. I don’t hide the goodness of your love nor the power of your faithfulness with my words or with how I live my life.
But don’t stop loving me God. Don’t hold back your mercy, God. Oh no! Your love and steadfast presence in my life is what I depend on; what I hold onto. It’s what grounds me. For the sinfulness of my life never stops. I never get it right. My own worldliness, my own frailties, my own shortcomings. They’re all me. That’s me. It’s me. And sometimes I am just plain blind to it. Blind to my sinfulness, my selfishness, and how far I have wandered from your ways. It feels like the bad far outweighs the good in me. And the guilt and shame add up to a number greater than the hairs on my head. The weight of my unworthiness takes the zip out of my step, the joy out of my heart.
And right about then, O Lord. Just then God, come and help me. Come help me right away. Let those who try to eat at my soul bit by bit and take it down the dark pit of hatred be ashamed. Those who actually enjoy seeing me miserable, those who with a smile on their face wouldn’t mind stepping on mine, those who think this life is a game of everyone just for themselves, them be shouted down, embarrassed, turned away.
But may all who seek you, who turn to you, may they know joy and have a reason to sing. May those who know you in their lives, who know you are all of life, who experience you and the fullness of life the same breath, may they say in one voice over and over again, “Great is our God!
But as for me, Lord? When it comes to me? Well Lord, I’m still just me. I’m a hot mess. But God is God. The Lord is the Lord. I am is I am. And you are still my God. My help. My deliverer. My life. And I my life is at its lowest, when my days are the toughest and my nights the longest, when my heart is broken, you are still my God. My help. My deliver. My life. And in those moments, at those times, my life still reveals your love. Some days it feels like you are all I have, Lord.
Don’t wait to long. Don’t take you time. Don’t delay.
O my God! Help me, now. Right now.
Lift me up. Lift me up again. Lift me up again and again and again.