Trusting God is a hard thing for many people. We live in a society that says that we need to see results and we need to see them now. We go to a fast-food restaurant and we expect the food to come out quickly and efficiently. We go to the store and we expect the place to have the products we need. Because if we don’t, we can always go online. But somewhere along the way, life throws us curveballs. We don’t get what we always want in life. We don’t see the results we are looking for. We ask ourselves: “Is life worth it?”
This is the setting of the writer of this psalm. He is sitting in a desolate place. He didn’t think there was a way out.
The psalm has two divisions which may at first have been written as two separate psalms. The last half (Psalm 40:13–17) is repeated independently as Psalm 70.1 So, I want to address the second part of this psalm first. The reason is because it describes the troubles that set-up the reasons to trust God in the first part of the psalm.
Whatever the situation was, the psalmist discovered (or rediscovered) that he could trust God.
Why should I trust God? Because I am going to run into all of kinds of difficulties in life. What are the difficulties I will run into?
I need God’s love and protection against TROUBLES from three different directions.
THREE TROUBLES I ENCOUNTER
1. Around me – my sin (Psalm 40:12-13)
“For troubles without number have surrounded me; my sins have overtaken me; I am unable to see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my courage leaves me. Lord, be pleased to deliver me; hurry to help me, Lord.” (Psalm 40:12–13, HCSB)
David knows that one of his trouble is his sin. He has a noxious attitude has overtaken him. He can’t see and he is scared. He feels that he cannot make it. That is why David needs God’s help.
2. Against me – My slanderers (Psalm 40:14-15)
“Let those who seek to take my life be disgraced and confounded. Let those who wish me harm be driven back and humiliated. Let those who say to me, “Aha, aha!” be horrified because of their shame.” (Psalm 40:14–15, HCSB)
Another trouble that you and I can run into is negative people. You know that there are people out there who don’t wish you well. They wish to harm you.
There are two ways you can deal with negative people. You can take it personally or you can take it prayerfully. David prays that these people would be horrified because of their shame. He doesn’t shame these people. He lets God do the protecting. David trusts God and asks His help.
3. Within me – My self (Psalm 40:16-17)
“Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; let those who love Your salvation continually say, “The Lord is great!” I am afflicted and needy; the Lord thinks of me. You are my helper and my deliverer; my God, do not delay.” (Psalm 40:16–17, HCSB)
The more I look at my life and the difficulties I run into, the more I realize that I am the cause. I am a very needy person. I need God’s help every day. I need Him. I, Paul in Romans 7 can say of myself:
“Oh wretched man I am” – Paul (Romans 7)
In the midst of these troubles, I can still trust God. The psalm shares five different ways I can trust God with my troubles.
FIVE DIFFERENT WAYS TO TRUST GOD WITH MY TROUBLES2
1. Trust God with my prayers (Psalm 40:1-3)
“I waited patiently for the Lord, and He turned to me and heard my cry for help. He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40:1–3, HCSB)
First, we notice that the king is recalling a time when he was in the pits literally. At some time, he was put in a pit. In that pit, there would be mud. The feet would get stick in the mud. You would continue to sink no matter how hard you tried to get up and out of the mud. Don’t forget these are images that are supposed to make us feel what David was feeling. They are not photographs. It helped me to get a picture of this mud to read what King Zedekiah did to Jeremiah when he wanted to get rid of him.3
“So they took Jeremiah and dropped him into the cistern of Malchiah the king’s son, which was in the guard’s courtyard, lowering Jeremiah with ropes. There was no water in the cistern, only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.” (Jeremiah 38:6, HCSB)
Yet he is trusting God with his prayers. He is waiting patiently for God to answer him. He is describing how he prayed, he waited, and God helped. This experience of prayer is what we must all go through. We all have to express our troubles to God. We all have to wait. Sometimes, God answers immediately. But many times, God answers in time.
Trusting God with my prayers means that I also trust Him with my praise. As David Jeremiah states:
“Christianity is a religion of song. Agnosticism has no carols. Confucianism and Brahmanism have no anthems or alleluias. Dreary, weird dirges reveal no hope for the present or for the future. Christianity, however, is filled with music. Only the message of Christ puts a song in a person’s heart.
When you have Christ in your heart something changes inside of you, and a melody starts to form that you can’t really control. It is unlike any other belief system.”4
2. Trust God with my inabilities (Psalm 40:4-5)
“How happy is the man who has put his trust in the Lord and has not turned to the proud or to those who run after lies! Lord my God, You have done many things— Your wonderful works and Your plans for us; none can compare with You. If I were to report and speak of them, they are more than can be told.” (Psalm 40:4–5, HCSB)
The $500 rug in the lobby of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office in Florida was supposed to say, “In God We Trust,” but the rug manufacturer mistyped the word “God,” rearranging the letters so that the rug said, “In Dog We Trust.” It took a couple of months for someone to discover the typo, but then the rug was quickly removed and later auctioned off; the proceeds went to a nonprofit that serves abandoned and injured dogs.5
Just as that rug manufacturer made a mistake, I can make mistakes as well. I may trust someone to help me because I think they can do the job better than me. There are times to ask someone else – an expert. Yet some people you cannot trust. People who are proud or arrogant should not be trusted. But then there is the time when you need to trust God first. He should be the first Person I should ask when I run into trouble. Why do I trust God before I trust others? Because God is reliable. He has proven His worth by His works. Yet when I am unable to do something, what is the first thing I do? I ask someone else.
3. Trust God with my obedience (Psalm 40:6-8)
“You do not delight in sacrifice and offering; You open my ears to listen. You do not ask for a whole burnt offering or a sin offering. Then I said, “See, I have come; it is written about me in the volume of the scroll. I delight to do Your will, my God; Your instruction lives within me.”” (Psalm 40:6–8, HCSB)
This section of the psalm is quoted by the writer of Hebrews in chapter 10. The writer hears the voice of Christ speaking in the psalm: Christ came into the world with the attitude of understanding and doing God’s will and went to the cross with this intention.6
“Then I said, “See— it is written about Me in the volume of the scroll— I have come to do Your will, God!”” (Hebrews 10:7, HCSB)
Just as Christ was obedient to God, we are reminded to be obedient to God. When I ask God for help, He will tell me a way to deal with my trouble. Whether it is to confess sin, deal with someone or something, or pay attention, I need to obey when God when He speaks.
God doesn’t want me to sacrifice or make an offering to satisfy Him. God doesn’t need that because Jesus has satisfied God’s wrath. So since I don’t need to spend time satisfying God, I can spend time doing His will.
4. Trust God with my testimony (Psalm 40:9-10)
“I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; see, I do not keep my mouth closed — as You know, Lord. I did not hide Your righteousness in my heart; I spoke about Your faithfulness and salvation; I did not conceal Your constant love and truth from the great assembly.” (Psalm 40:9–10, HCSB)
Part of trusting God in obedience is sharing my testimony. The fact is that Christians don’t share the Gospel like they should. We conceal our testimony and our faith. God says to be public about it and trust Him. Trust Him when you open your mouth about your faith. Trust Him when you meet someone who may not care about you or hearing the Gospel.
5. Trust God with my insecurities (Psalm 40:11)
“Lord, do not withhold Your compassion from me; Your constant love and truth will always guard me.” (Psalm 40:11, HCSB)
The psalmist asks God to not withhold His compassion. Here, I believe the psalmist is revealing an insecurity. Insecurity is the state of being open to danger or threat; lack of protection. David says here that he needs God’s help to guard him. David knows that it is God’s love and truth that will guard him against things that make him feel insecure.
The truth refers to God’s faithfulness to his promises. One can easily see how these petitions related to David’s struggle against sin.7 Just like David, my sin derives from my insecurities. I feel threatened or in danger and so I will resort to sin to solve the problem. David knew that instead of resorting to sin, he should place his trust in God’s love and compassion.
“He reaches down from heaven and saves me, challenging the one who tramples me. Selah God sends His faithful love and truth.” (Psalm 57:3, HCSB)
Richard Conniff writes in National Geographic that on January 12, 1997, two Swiss men, Bertrand Piccard and Wim Verstraeten, set out to be the first to circle the earth in a balloon. Their aircraft was called the Breitling Orbiter, and it was a high-tech masterpiece, complete with solar power panels and an airtight capsule for pressurized flight at high altitudes that would enable them to fly the jet stream at two hundred miles an hour. Price tag: $1.5 million.
Shortly after liftoff, however, calamity struck. With the cabin sealed tight and pressurized, the pilots suddenly noticed strong kerosene fumes.
Soon they e-mailed their control center: “Kerosene’s coming through each pipe on both inside tanks and we cannot tighten them anymore. It is a nightmare.… Answer quick.”
They were advised to lower their altitude, open the capsule, and hold on until they could reach the coast of Algeria. The fumes proved overwhelming, however, and they were forced to ditch in the Mediterranean.
The cause of the kerosene leak? A clamp, like those used on an automobile radiator hose, had failed. Price tag: $1.16.
It doesn’t take much to undermine a great enterprise.
God intends that the Christian life be a triumphant journey, but often we allow small things like doubt or fear to scuttle God’s grand plan for us.8
In one sense, we are insecure people. We can let little things get to us. Yet, we are still needy. It is important to trust God with my time, my prayers, my testimony, and my physical and emotional needs. When we have troubles, we need to go to Someone we can trust. God is the most secure Person Who can handle our troubles.
Lord, we offer our mouths to you, that we might speak your truth in the world. God, we offer our minds to you, that we might meditate on your word. Lord, we offer our hands to you, that we might serve your people and those in the world. God, we offer our hearts to you, that our worship would focus solely upon you. Lord, we offer our feet to you, that we might bring the good news of the gospel to the ends of the earth.9