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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 40

Verses 1-17

XL. A. Psalms 40:1-11 . A Thanksgiving for Deliverance.— The Psalmist believes that his own gratitude will give confidence to others. God, he says, takes no special delight in sacrificial worship. It is gratitude and submission to God’ s will which find acceptance with Him.

Do the contents of the Ps. furnish any real indication of its date? It has been attributed to Jeremiah for reasons which, though plausible, are not convincing, and have now been generally abandoned. ( a) Psalms 40:2 a certainly recalls the prophet’ s fate as told in Jeremiah 28:1-13. But the language of the Ps. is evidently metaphorical, and the words “ set me on a rock” have no parallel in Jeremiah’ s case. ( b) The Ps., like Psalms 50, 51, depreciates sacrifice. So does Jeremiah in Jeremiah 7:21 f., and this indeed is the general teaching of the prophets. At most, then, this would prove the Ps. anterior to the publication of P, which enforced the obligation of sacrifice. Moreover P imposes the duty of sacrifice on the community as a body, whereas the Psalmist is thinking of individuals. God, as he believes, regards sacrifice with indifference and desires obedience. ( c) Other resemblance to Jeremiah may be reasonably explained by supposing that the Psalmist was familiar with his writings.

Psalms 40:2 . miry clay is doubtful. “ Clay bottom of the sea” is a possible emendation.

Psalms 40:4 b. Read, perhaps, “ And hath not turned to vain things,” i.e. idols. The poet is thinking of apostate Jews.

Psalms 40:5 c. Read, “ There is none to be compared with thee” ( mg.) .

Psalms 40:6 . God in creating man has bored ears in his body, i.e. He has given him ears that he may know the Divine Law. God regards sacrifices with indifference. The Psalmist “ comes” obedient to His call and fulfils the commandment “ prescribed to him” ( mg.) in the sacred roll. By a slip of the pen the LXX scribe wrote “ a body” ( somation) instead of “ ears” ( otia) and an argument has been founded on the corrupt text in Hebrews 10:5 *.

XL. B. Psalms 40:13-17 . A Ps. or fragment of a Ps. completely diverse. It describes the sufferings of a man punished for his sins and surrounded by unscrupulous foes.

Psalms 40:12 is by an editor who wished to connect the Pss. with each other.

Psalms 40:13-17 recurs in Psalms 70.

Psalms 40:15 . Read with LXX of Psalms 70:3, “ Let them be turned back by reason of their shame,” i.e. of their disappointment.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Psalms 40". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.