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Bible Commentaries

Trapp's Complete Commentary

Psalms 40

Verse 1

Psalms 40:1 « To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. » I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.

Ver. 1. I waited patiently for the Lord ] Heb. In waiting I waited; Diutissime quidem, sed optimo successu; I prayed and waited, I waited and prayed again; persevering in prayer, and begging audience, as Psalms 39:12 , with which Basil maketh this psalm to cohere; and well he may, for it seemeth to be of the same time and argument with the two former. Est sensus eiusdem cum duobus prioribus. R. Obadiah saith, that David composed this psalm after that he was recovered of his leprosy, Psalms 38:7 .

And he inclined unto me ] i.e. He began at length to show favour; for he waiteth to be gracious, and well knoweth that desideria dilatione crescant, et cito data vilescant; nothing is lost by holding his people long in request.

Verse 2

Psa 40:2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, [and] established my goings.

Ver. 2. He brought me up also out of a horrible pit ] E puteo sonitus, ut Isaiah 51:14 , out of a noiseful pit, where there is a continual hurry by the great tall of waters into it: he meaneth out of dreadful dangers, out of a desperate disease, saith R. Obadiah; who also by rock here understandeth perfect health, Sanitatem in corpore, sanctitatem in corde.

Out of the miry clay ] E luto, luto, saith Kimchi, for here are two words used of one and the same sense; to show that, as a bemired beast, he was in a perishing condition till God pulled him out, and set him on firm ground.

And established my goings ] That I might not relapse into the same or fall into another malady or mischief.

Verse 3

Psa 40:3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, [even] praise unto our God: many shall see [it], and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.

Ver. 3. And he hath put a new song in my mouth ] i.e. New matter, which I shall soon contrive into a new song, by the help of his Holy Spirit; for I cannot breathe out a desire after him except he first give me breath therewith, and so put a new song in my mouth.

Even praise unto our God ] i.e. Unto Christ, saith Junius, to whom and of whom the Church singeth, saith he, in the following verses.

Many shall see it, and fear, and trust in the Lord ] Their eye shall affect their heart, both with fear of and faith in the Lord, that bringeth greatest things to pass, and is fearful in praises, doing wonders, Exodus 15:11 .

Verse 4

Psa 40:4 Blessed [is] that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.

Ver. 4. Blessed is that man, &c. ] See Psalms 2:12 .

And respecteth not the proud ] Who are set in opposition to believers, as they are also, Habakkuk 2:4 . Self-justitiaries especially, and meritmongers: faith is a humbling grace.

Nor such as turn aside to lies ] As do heretics and idolaters. These the true believer, out of the greatness of his spirit, slighteth, how great soever they be; animo magno nihil magnum.

Verse 5

Psa 40:5 Many, O LORD my God, [are] thy wonderful works [which] thou hast done, and thy thoughts [which are] to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: [if] I would declare and speak [of them], they are more than can be numbered.

Ver. 5. Many, O Lord my God, are thy works which thou hast done ] Many and great, and all for them that trust in thee; who therefore must needs be blessed, as Psalms 40:4 .

And thy thoughts which are to us-ward ] Thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give us an expected end, Jeremiah 29:11 .

They cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee ] No, nor yet out of order; and yet we must be reckoning and relating them as we are able, to God, and men, by speaking good of his name; and at this David was old excellent, as we say.

If I should declare and speak of them ] By wholesale we must do it, though we cannot so well by retail; particulars also must be instanced, as Moses doth to Jethro, Exodus 18:7-8 , and for that end catalogues must be kept. See one Judges 10:11-12 .

Verse 6

Psa 40:6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.

Ver. 6. Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire ] Comparatively to the obedience of faith, 1 Samuel 15:22 , without which, when hypocrites thought to bribe God by cold ceremonies, they were rejected. Christ is the end of the law to all that believe; that Lamb of God, slain from the beginning of the world, is the only expiatory sacrifice, and the foundation of that fore-mentioned blessedness, Psalms 40:4 . Now, since Christ suffered, the Levitical sacrifices being abolished, we have none to offer but such as are gratulatory, to show our thankfulness for such a Redeemer, whose perfect obedience, with the fruit of it, is here and in the following verses both described, and set forth for an absolute pattern to us of performing our duty toward God, for this inexplicable mercy. Confer Hebrews 10:5-6 , &c. Here we have in Christ for our instruction, and in David also (his type) for our example, 1. A firm purpose of obedience, in a bored ear add a yielding heart. 2. A ready performance thereof, "Lo, I come." 3. A carefull observance of the word written, "In the volume of thy book it is written of me," Psalms 40:7 Psalms 40:4 . A hearty delight in that observance, Psalms 40:8 Psalms 40:5 . A public profession and communication of God’s goodness to others, Psalms 40:9-10 (D. Ames). Now, we should labour to express Christ to the world, to walk as he walked, 1 John 2:6 ; our lives should be in some sense parallel with his life, as the transcript with the original. He left us a copy to write by, saith St Peter, 1 Peter 2:21

Mine ears hast thou opened ] Heb. digged, bored; a hearing ear hast thou bestowed upon me, which is a singular favour; for life entereth by the ear, Isaiah 55:3 , as did death at first, Gen 3:19 Oh, pray that God would make the bore wide enough; that the inward ears being drawn up to the outward, one sound may pierce both at once.

Verse 7

Psa 40:7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book [it is] written of me,

Ver. 7. Then said I, Lo, I come ] Christ became obedient even to the death, yea, that of the cross, Philippians 2:8 . Christ’s people also are a willing people, Psalms 110:3 , their obedience is prompt and present, ready and speedy, without delays and consults, Psalms 119:60 , without capitulation and security, Isaiah 56:6 .

In the volume of the book ] In libro plicatili, in thy law, which was anciently (and is still this day among the Jews) written in paper or parchment rolled up; because it will last longer rolled than folded.

It is written of me ] Of Christ, in many places; for he is both author, object, matter, and mark of both Testaments. Of David also, and all God’s people, doth the law speak with fruit and efficacy; and they do use to read their own names, written, as it were, in every precept, promise, threatening. Look how men read the statute book of the land, as holding themselves highly concerned therein: so here.

Verse 8

Psa 40:8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law [is] within my heart.

Ver. 8. I delight to do thy will, O my God ] To Christ it was his meat and drink, John 4:34 , he set his face to do it, and to suffer it, Luke 9:51 ; yea, he was straitened, pained, till it was done, Luke 12:50 . And the same mind is also in the saints that was in Christ Jesus, Philippians 2:5 . They delight in the law of God after the inward man, Romans 7:22 , they prefer it before their necessary food, Job 23:12 .

Yea, thy law is within my heart ] Heb. in the midst of my bowels; there is the counterpane, the duplicate of the law written, yea, printed, Jeremiah 31:33 2 Corinthians 3:3 . Rip up my heart (said Queen Mary) when I am dead, and there shall you find Calais, the loss whereof (it is thought) killed her. Rip up the most men’s hearts, and there you shall find written, The god of this present world. But God’s law is in good men’s hearts, to live and to die with it: O beata Apocalypsis (said that martyr, catching up that revelation cast into the same fire with him to be burnt), O blessed revelation, how happy am I to be burned with thee in my hands!

Verse 9

Psa 40:9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest.

Ver. 9. I have preached righteousness in the great congregation ] David did this, but Christ much more, by the everlasting gospel, sent the whole world throughout. Great was the company of preachers, and large was their commission. See a draught of it Acts 26:18 .

I have declared thy faithfulness, and thy salvation ] Righteousness of Christ imputed, faithfulness of God in fulfilling his promises, salvation the end of faith, lovingkindness and truth the ground of all the former, God’s lovingkindness, or mercy moving him to promise, and his truth binding him to perform; these are those pearls that Christ by his preachers casteth before people, if they be but as forward to take them as he is to tender them. How beautiful should the feet be of those that bring such glad tidings! and how heavy will the dust of such feet be, shaken off against despisers!

O Lord, thou knowest ] sc. That I have herein done mine utmost, and with an upright heart.

Verse 10

Psa 40:10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.

Ver. 10. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart ] Or, if he did, as Psalms 119:11 , it was, that having wrought it first on his own affections, he might afterwards utter it a corde ad cor, from the heart to the heart, and so be able to save himself and those that heard him.

I have declared thy faithfulness, &c. ] See Psalms 40:9 .

Verse 11

Psa 40:11 Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.

Ver. 11. Withhold not thou thy tender mercies, &c. ] Whereas, while the saints are on earth there will be a perpetual interchange of comforts and crosses; prayers must be joined with praises, and care taken that, confirmed by former experiences, they still depend upon God. Nunc in luto adhuc haerens et cum residuo calamitatum colluctans precatur Deum.

Let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me ] Tuos illos custodes mihi ad latus adhibe, let those two attributes of thine be mine angel guardians at all times. See Trapp on " Psa 25:10 "

Verse 12

Psa 40:12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.

Ver. 12. For innumerable evils have compassed me ] Heb. have mustered upon me. Many (or millions) are the troubles of the righteous; none out of hell ever suffered more than they: an elegant exaggeration of their afflictions we have in this verse, and such as cannot well be understood by any but those that have been wellbeaten porters to the cross of Christ.

Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me ] i.e. The punishment of mine iniquities, Genesis 4:13 , my sin hath found me out. If this be taken of Christ, he is Maximus peccatorum, the greatest of sinners by imputation, 2Co 5:20 Isaiah 53:6 , for our sins (which here he calleth his) he suffered; and here his bitter agony in the garden is graphically described; neither is it absurd to say, that as he bore our sins in his own body upon the tree, he was first redeemed by himself, and afterwards we.

Therefore my heart faileth me ] i.e. My wit, courage, counsel is wasted by earnest thinking upon them. Scientia mea eis numerandis deficit, as Kimchi glosseth.

Verse 13

Psa 40:13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me.

Ver. 13. Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me ] Do it of thy free grace, and mere mercy of thy good will and gracious liking (as the word ευδοκια signifieth), beside the consideration of my woeful misery laid forth, Psalms 40:12 , as an object of thy mercy.

Verse 14

Psa 40:14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil.

Ver. 14. Let them be ashamed and confounded together, &c. ] These and the like imprecations must be looked upon as prophecies. Besides, David looked upon them not as his enemies only, but God’s as well; and such also as were desperate and irrecoverable. So Paul prayed against the coppersmith, the Church against Julian, &c.

Let them be driven backward, &c. ] A Christian may without sin be sensible of indignities; only it must be the mourning of doves, and not the roaring of bears.

Verse 15

Psa 40:15 Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha.

Ver. 15. Let them be desolate for a reward ] A poor reward; but such as sin payeth to her servants: "the wages of sin is death." Sin payeth all her servants in black money. See Psalms 35:21 . The word here rendered reward signifieth a heel. It is as if the prophet should say, Let one desolation tread upon the heels of another, till they be utterly undone.

Verse 16

Psa 40:16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified.

Ver. 16. Let all those that seek thee rejoice ] viz. When they hear of my deliverance. The saints have both their joys and griefs in common with their fellow members, as being in the body, Hebrews 13:3 ; both in the body of Christ and in the body of flesh and frailty.

Verse 17

Psa 40:17 But I [am] poor and needy; [yet] the Lord thinketh upon me: thou [art] my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.

Ver. 17. But I am poor and needy ] A stark beggar neither will I hide from my Lord (as once Joseph’s brethren said to him, when they came for corn) mine extreme indigence, my necessitous condition; I am one that get my living by begging.

Yet the Lord thinketh upon me ] He is the poor man’s King, as hath been said; and Christ is cum Patre dator, inter nos petitor, as Augustine hath it; that is, he gives with the Father, and at the same time prays with the suitor, who must therefore needs speed.

Thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying ] Deliver me speedily, lest I perish utterly. God, saith one, is sometimes troubled with too much help, but never with too little; we are sometimes too soon, but he is never too late.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 40". Trapp's Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.