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Bible Commentaries

Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms

Psalms 40

Verses 1-17

Psalms 40:1-17.

V. 1- 5. In this psalm, David seems to intended to speak of his own case and experience but the Holy Spirit led him to use language, which in its full meaning can be applied to none but the Lord Jesus himself. The whole indeed may be accommodated to him, yet some passages are more suited to the case of the type, than to that of the Antitype. These verses may be interpreted of the Redeemer I deep and dreadful sufferings, a;;d the happy effects which followed his deliverance out of them. Exposed to the cruelty and malice of men, the horrid assaults of Satan, and ’the wrath of the Father, when bearing and expiating our sins ; he was as one sinking in a dark and noisome pit, where dreadful noises are heard, (marg.) and he was ready to be covered and suffocated with the miry clay: but under all these sufferings, in waiting he waited for the LORD;" and his earnest prayers were heard. At his resurrection he was brought forth from the grave, and the state of the dead : and in his exaltation he was placed as on an immoveable rock ; his goings were established, his remaining work became most delightful, and his full success was ensured. (Notes, Isaiah 53:9-12. Acts 2:22-32.) Thus "a new song" was put into his mouth, which he teaches his people : for no such redemption could before be celebrated ; and multtudes, by faith beholding his sufferings and the glory which followed, have learned to fear the justice, and trust in the mercy of God, through him. Such persons are made happy ; whilst they do not so regard the rich and great as to trust in them, or proud tyrants arid persecutors so as to dread their rage ; and while they renounce all connexion with those, who turn aside to idolatrous and superstitious delusions, or the deceitful interests and pleasures of sin. Many wonderful works the Lord had done for sinful man and for Israel but this would exceed them all nor could the number or value of his thoughts and contrivances of love and mercy be ever numbered, or estimated.

(Notes, Ephesians 2:4-10; Ephesians 3:9-12. 1 Peter 1:10-12. Revelation 5:11-14.)

Yet the passage may also be explained of David and answers to some parts of the believer’s experience.

David had been in many troubles, and seemed ready to sink in them, as in an horrible pit but faith, patience, and prayer, supported him, and carried him through all.

(Notes, Psalms 116:3-5. Psalms 130:1-6; Psalms 142:1-7: title. 7- 2 Samuel 22:5; 2 Samuel 6:17-18. Jeremiah 38:1-13. Lamentations 3:52-66. Jonah 2:1-10:)

In due time he was rescued, advanced, and established ; his way was made plain and prosperous ; a new song was put into his mouth; (Note, Psalms 33:2-3;) his example became useful to many ; and his life was spent in attempting to reckon up, and celebrate, the wonders and counsels of the love of God to him and to his people, yet he could not at all do justice to the delightful subject.

(Notes, Psalms 71:13-24; Psalms 139:1-24 : I7- 18. Psalms 145:5-7.) The third and fourth verses may be connected as follows Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the " LORD: Saying, Blessed is the man. (Marg. Ref)

V. 6- 8. It is uncertain, whether David had in these verses any intention of declaring, that cheerful and prompt obedience to the precepts of the moral law, proceeding from faith and love, was more acceptable to God than legal sacrifices : (Note, 1. 7- 15. 1 Samuel 15:22:) but it is evident that the Holy Spirit foretold the obedience of the promised Messiah. Sacrifices, though appointed by God himself, were of no intrinsick value : he neither delighted in them, or required them for their own sake, nor could they take away sin.

(Notes, Genesis 8:20-22. Hebrews 9:18-26; Hebrews 10:1-4; Hebrews 10:11-18.) But the incarnation and obedience of the Son of God, which they shadowed forth, were previously appointed for that purpose. His ears were opened to receive and obey the command of the Father ; or pierced as those of servants were, who chose to continue perpetually with their masters. (Note, Exodus 21:3-6.) When the legal sacrifices were declared inefficient, the Redeemer promptly answered, " Lo, I come, According to the eternal purpose of JEHOVAH, and as it was written in the scriptures from the beginning, or " the " opening of the roll," concerning him, he was prepared to appear in human nature, and to magnify the law of God by his perfect and divine obedience even unto the death of the cross : (Notes, Genesis 3:14; Genesis 15:21; Genesis 4:3-5 :) yea, his cordial love to the holy commandment, and his zeal for the honour of the divine government and perfections, and his compassion for the souls of men, were so powerful, that he delighted in thus performing the will of his heavenly Father. (Note, John 4:31-34.) The apostle, in quoting this passage, follows nearly the translation of the LXX, which gives an interpretation, rather than a translation, of the words rendered, " Mine ears hast thou opened." But, as this variation did not at all affect his argument, or alter the meaning of the passage, it was not necessary, that he should interrupt his subject by noticing it. (Note, Hebrews 10:5-10.)

V. 9, 10. When David avowed the earnestness and boldness, with which he had celebrated the works and ay.s of God, he typified Christ in the performance of his prophetical office. Neither reproach nor persecution had caused David to refrain his lips, from declaring before the congregation of Israel, the righteousness, faithfulness, loving-kindness, and salvation of the Lord. He had not been contented with treasuring up these subjects in his heart, for his private use but had openly published them lor the edification of the people, and the honour of God. Thus Christ, personally before his sufferings, and by his ministers afterwards, published to innumerable multitudes the justice, truth, and mercy of God ; his method of justifying and sanctifying sinners, as well as the ways of righteousness in which he guides them. (Notes, I- 5. Psalms 22:22-25. Psalms 35:17-19. Hebrews 2:10-13.) The connexion of the term, thy righteousness," with loving-kindness, mercy, faithfulness, and salvation, and the evident subject of the passage, warrants this interpretation ; and shews, that " the righteousness of God, which is unto all and upon " all that believe," was primarily meant. (Note, Romans 3:21-26.)

V. 11, 12. David might be here pleading for an interest in those mercies and that salvation, which he proclaimed to others ; when he was struggling with those complicated evils, which were consequent to his iniquities in the matter of Uriah. These called his other sins to remembrance, which took such hold upon him, and so discouraged him, that he should not have dared to look up, if it had not been for his belief of the infinite mercies of God. But some think, that Christ may be supposed to speak, in the depth of his humiliation, when our innumerable iniquities met upon him, in his agony in the garden, and his sufferings on the cross. (Notes,Psalms 69:4. Is. 53: 4- 7 Matthew 26:36-39; Matthew 27:46.) The original of the llth verse is simply future : " Thou wilt not withhold.

V. 13-15. (Note, Psalms 70:1-5.) The first of these verses is imperative, in which the Psalmist simply prays for deliverance the others are throughout in the future tense and naturally express the language of lively faith and hope, rather than that of wishing or desiring the destruction foreseen and predicted ; and the transition is worthy our notice. A regard to the Septuagint, and other ancient versions, seems to have induced our venerable translators generally to put such passages in the imperative, which, at first view at least, gives them an appearance of harshness, not so congenial to the spirit of devotion. The two verses, however, viewed as predictions of the destruction, which awaits the obstinate enemies of Christ and his church, have been wonderfully accomplished in the dire end of many traitors and persecutors, and in the condition of the Jews to this day. (Notes,Psalms 69:22-28. Psalms 109:6-20.)

V. 16. "All those who seek thee shall be glad and rejoice in thee ; sucli as love thy salvation, shall say continually, The LORD be magnified." ’ I am confident,hat this eventually will be the case ; notwithstanding present temptations and sufferings.’ The clause, " love thy salvation," exactly discriminates a true believer from all other men. (Marg. Ref.)

V. 17. Marg. Ref.


We are here again called upon to contemplate the intense sufferings, into which our sins plunged the divine Saviour, when he willingly gave himself for us a sacrifice to God : and we should also mark his patient confidence in the Father under all ; and observe how his prayers were heard, his soul delivered, and his body raised ; and how, in human nature, he was exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour. In his exaltation all his people should rejoice: the new song, which was put into his mouth, was intended for our use, that we may render praises unto our God : (Note, Revelation 5:8-10:) and the whole interesting scene, and all the mediatorial power and grace of our exalted Saviour, were designed to warn sinners to flee from the wrath to come, and to put their entire trust in the mercy of the Lord. Happy are all they, who renounce every lying vanity and carnal confidence, thus to depend upon the living God : they shall continually experience the faithfulness of his promises ; and contemplate with admiring gratitude all the counsels of his love, and his wonderful works in behalf of his redeemed people : nor will they be able to eternity to exhaust the subject, or to recount all the particular instances of his mercy to them. Yet the incarnation and surety ship, the obedience and sufferings, of the Son of God, are the centre and the means of all other mercies to us. (Notes, John 3:16; John 14:6. 1 John 4:9-12.) Thus God is glorified, and sinners are saved: no costly sacrifices, nor even moral righteousness, can be acceptable from sinners to a holy God, except as they stand in relation to the person and atonement of his beloved Son.

In his obedience unto death, the eternal purposes of JEHOVAH were accomplished ; the types and prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled ; the law of God was magnified, and the demands of justice were satisfied. Humiliating and painful as this obedience was, the loving Saviour delighted to perform it : (Note, John 4:31-34:) the law of God possessed his heart, and he was bent upon honouring its precepts and its awful sanction; that all might learn the excellence of the command, and the evil of transgression, in connexion with the infinite love of God to sinners. Now his redemption is completed, and the proclamation is sent forth to cull upon us to come and accept of it. May we believe his testimony, trust his promise, and submit to his authority ! For all who thus seek the Lord shall rejoice in him ; and all " who love his salvation " will say continually, The Lord be magnified:" while the shame and ruin of impenitent sinners, especially of those who oppose his cause, or seek to destroy his people, and rejoice in their calamities, are ensured by the predictions and denunciations of the word of God, and even by his intercession for his church. But if the ’holy Jesus, " the beloved Son, in whom the Father was well pleased," endured such innumerable evils, and became so poor and needy for our sake ; shall we, whose " iniquities are more " in number than the hairs of our head," complain when we meet with pain and poverty ! Had it not been for his voluntary sufferings, our sins would have taken such hold on us, that we should never have been able to look up : our hearts must indeed have failed, and in the horrible pit, whence there is no escape, our hopes would for ever have expired. Of this believers are fully convinced; and this should teach them patient submission under every trial. And if any are struggling with remorse of conscience, and fears of wrath, and, to their own apprehension, sinking in a deep and horrible pit ; let them wait patiently for God, and cry humbly unto him, and he will hear and help them, and turn their fears and sorrows into joyful praises. If we are thus rescued, let us continue to pray that" our goings " may be established" in holiness, as a proof that we are fixed upon the Rock of salvation. And in order that our praises may be honourable to God and profitable to man, we should endeavour to unite humble dependence on Christ with obedient imitation of him. For those, who are really his, arc taught to delight in doing his will, and have his law written in their hearts. Let us not then be ashamed of him or of his word ; but declare his righteousness, truth, and salvation, according to our place in the church, to all around us. Let us put our whole trust in his mercy under every trial, and seek to him to make haste to help and deliver us ; and to disappoint Sat;in and every foe, who seeks after our souls to destroy them. Though despised and obscure, let it suffice us, that the Ixml thinks of us : and if he be our Help and Deliverer, he will make no long tarrying; but will soon remove us out of the reach of sin and sorrow : and at length raise our bodies from the grave that we may be with him, and behold and share his glory for ever. (Note, Philippians 3:20-21 .)

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Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 40". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. 1804.