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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Writings

Psalms 40

Verses 1-17


Christ personally entering into the sorrows of His people, proving, for their encouragement, the deliverance of Jehovah on behalf of one who submits to God, and waits patiently for His help.

(vv. 1-4) The opening verses present the great theme of the psalm. Christ, having waited patiently for the Lord to deliver Him from the horrible pit of suffering into which He had entered for the will of God and the blessing of His people, is heard, delivered, established on firm ground, and a new song put into His mouth.

The result being that many will be encouraged to trust in the Lord. The path, taken by the Lord, meant, indeed, that in this world He was poor and needy (v. 17). Nevertheless blessed is the man who, encouraged by the example of this poor and needy Man, puts his trust in God and does not look on the outward appearance. Nor does he respect the proud.

(v. 5) Furthermore the ways of God with Christ make manifest how wonderful are the works of God, and His thoughts to us-ward. As we look at Christ become incarnate, manifesting a faithful witness for God in the world, entering into our sufferings; waiting for God; delivered and brought on to firm ground beyond all suffering, we see God's thoughts to us-ward.

(vv. 6-8) The unfolding of these thoughts to us-ward commence with the incarnation of Christ. He comes according to the eternal purpose of God to do the will of God. Christ having come, the whole Levitical system is set aside as neither meeting the desires of God nor the needs of men. In the place of these ineffectual sacrifices, Christ comes in the body prepared for Him, to do the will of God.

(vv. 9-10) In His path of service Christ was the faithful witness. He perfectly carried out the will of God in the midst of Israel - the great congregation. There He was absolutely faithful to Jehovah. He did not refrain His lips, or hide the truth in His heart for fear of consequences. He could say, “I have preached righteousness”; “I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy loving-kindness and thy truth.”

(vv. 11-12) Christ looks to Jehovah that He might be preserved by the loving-kindness and truth that He had so faithfully declared, for, as the result of His faithful witness He was opposed by those who, in their hatred, sought to destroy Him, as He can say, “innumerable evils have compassed me about.”

(vv. 12-13) Moreover the accomplishment of God's will led Christ into yet deeper sufferings. It is God's will that His people should be diverted through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ of everything unsuited to God. If this will is to be accomplished, Christ must bear the sins of His people. Here then we see Christ confessing the sins of His people as His own, and bearing the burden of them.

This passage does not carry us as far as Psalm 22 , which speaks of bearing the wrath of God which the sins deserve - a work of the first necessity and which alone has been wrought by Christ, and in which none other can share. The 40th Psalm speaks of the confession and burden of sins, which others can know, though only fully entered into by Christ. It is right that the believer should confess and feel the horror of his sins; still he will ever feel how imperfectly he has confessed them: how feebly he has felt their horror. Nevertheless, for our comfort, we know they have been fully confessed, and the burden of all their horror has been fully borne. Confessing our sins as His own, the Lord could say, “Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up.” In this sore trial He became the perfect pattern for others, inasmuch as He looked only to the Lord to deliver and help Him.

(vv. 14-16) The verses that follow distinguish the godly remnant in Israel from the Christ-rejecting mass of the nation. Those who rejected the faithful witness of Christ in life and in death will be put to shame. Those who seek the Lord and His salvation will rejoice and magnify the Lord.

(v. 17) Thus the Lord closes His path in this world as One that is poor and needy. Yet, having perfectly fulfilled the will of God, He has the assurance that God thinks upon Him, and will be His help and His deliverer. This leads to the glorious end stated in the opening verses. Christ is heard, delivered, established on resurrection ground, as the Leader of a new song “unto our God.”

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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Psalms 40". "Smith's Writings". 1832.