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Verses of Psalms 40

Psalms 40 Summary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

This Psalm consists of two parts, differing widely in tone and character. In the first part ( Psa 40:1-11) thanksgiving for deliverance and its true expression in the devotion of obedience to God’s will are the prominent ideas: in the second part ( Psa 40:12-17) the Psalmist is still the victim of a cruel persecution, from which he prays for deliverance.

The first part is marked by singular vigour and spirituality; the second part consists mainly of phrases found elsewhere, and Psa 40:13-17 recur separately in Book ii as Psalms 70.

It seems most probable that two Psalms or parts of Psalms have been combined by a compiler, with reference to his own needs or for liturgical purposes, at a time when he himself or the nation looked back upon past deliverance from the midst of present trials. Still it is possible that the author of Psa 40:1-11 himself added Psa 40:12-17 at a later time under changed circumstances, making use of language which he had employed before in time of distress. There are links of connexion between the two parts. Be pleased ( Psa 40:13) takes up thy good pleasure ( Psa 40:8); taketh thought for me ( Psa 40:17) glances back to thy thoughts to us-ward ( Psa 40:5); they are more ( Psa 40:12) is found in Psa 40:5: and such repetition of a word already used in a different connexion is characteristic of the author of the first part: e.g. restrain not thou ( Psa 40:11) corresponds to I will not restrain ( Psa 40:9); thy lovingkindness and thy truth ( Psa 40:11) to the same words in Psa 40:10.

If the Psalm is David’s, it would seem to belong to the later years of his outlaw life, shortly before he became king, rather than to the time of Absalom’s rebellion. It has been well pointed out that the words of Psa 40:6 ff. gain fresh force if they are taken in connexion with 1Sa 15:22. The self-devotion of the king after God’s own heart is the exact opposite of the self-will which was the ground of Saul’s rejection.

The ascription of the Psalm to Jeremiah rests mainly on the supposed reference of Psa 40:2 to Jeremiah’s imprisonment (Jer 38:6), but the language is certainly figurative and not literal.

Some regard the speaker in this, as in the two preceding Psalms, as “either pious Israel personified, or (virtually the same thing) a representative pious Israelite” (Cheyne), who speaks in the name of the nation. But though Israel in later times may well have appropriated to itself the words of the Psalm, the personal origin of it appears to be unmistakable. There is not the slightest hint that the enemies referred to are heathen, or that those who are won by the sight of God’s mercy ( Psa 40:3) are distant nations.

The first part falls into four approximately equal stanzas. The following is an outline of the contents.

A. i. After long and patient waiting prayer has been answered and occasion given for fresh thanksgiving (Psa 40:1-3).

ii. Once more it has been proved that trust in God is the only source of true happiness. The goodness of God to His people is infinite and incomparable (Psa 40:4-5).

iii. What shall be man’s response to that love? Not material sacrifice, but the service of glad obedience (Psa 40:6-8).

iv. The Psalmist has not failed publicly to confess what God has proved Himself to be, and confidently anticipates the continuance of His favour (Psa 40:9-11).

B. Suddenly the scene changes. The Psalmist represents himself as overwhelmed by afflictions, and pleads for speedy help, and the discomfiture of his malicious enemies. Yet even in the midst of distress his trust remains unshaken (Psa 40:12-17).

This Psalm is one of the Proper Psalms for Good Friday. Its appropriateness is obvious, as describing in Psa 40:6 ff. the fundamental nature of the sacrifice which was consummated upon the Cross.

Verses of Psalms 40

Consult other comments:

Psalms 40:0 - Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Psalms 40:0 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Psalms 40:0 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Psalms 40:0 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Psalms 40:0 - Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary

Psalms 40:0 - Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Psalms 40:0 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

Psalms 40:0 - Commentary Series on the Bible by Peter Pett

Psalms 40:0 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Psalms 40:0 - Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges