Summary: God has moved mightily and lovingly in our lives. We have much for which to be thankful
Psalm 40:1-10 "Giving Thanks"
I'm a "Star Wars" fan. In addition to the special effects and the good versus evil plot, I really like the relationship between Yoda and Luke Skywalker. We have the personification of wisdom and the struggle of a student to become wise. In essence, it is a scenario--the interaction between teacher and student that is played out every day of our lives.
We have teachers who attempt to impart knowledge to their students and students who try to figure out how such knowledge will apply to their lives. A main goal of parenting is to impart life skills to their children--children who think their parents are REALLY dumb until they begin to have children of their own. Coaches, of course, attempt to teach an entirely different set of knowledge and skills to their teams.
When we journey through the Psalms, it doesn't take long for us to realize that we are in the presence of people who have great spiritual wisdom. They have much to teach us.
The first words in this Psalm is, "I waited patiently for the Lord." It doesn't take us very long in our spiritual journeys to realize that patience is an important trait in the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ.
The Psalmist encountered severe trails and tribulations in his life. He describes his plight as being stuck in a miry bog. He cried out to the Lord and then he waited--and waited--and waited.
One of our problems in following the sage example of the Psalmist is that we find it difficult to wait. When we want something, we want it now. We are far from the experience of planting seeds and waiting for them to grow so that we can harvest them. We are as impatient as children on Christmas morning. We don't save for things. Instead we finance what we want and incur a great amount of debt.
The Lord, however, doesn't run on our time schedule. There is nothing that we can do to either speed God up or to slow God down. So, we wait. We can wait anxiously, or we can wait thankfully. We can pace back and forth looking at our watch every fifteen seconds, or we can immerse ourselves in scripture, pray with others, or turn our attention to serving others and to meeting their needs.
The question is not "Will we wait?" but rather "How will we wait?"
A NEW SONG
The Lord inclined his ear to the Psalmist and God rescued him. God removed him from his trials and tribulations and set the Psalmist on a solid rock. The Lord then placed a new song in the Psalmist's heart.
The Psalmist realized what God had done for him--how the Lord had answered his prayers--and he began to thank the Lord. Praise is an appropriate response to God's actions in our lives.
God is constantly moving in our lives. If God is not rescuing us from the miry bog, God is providing for us; giving us our daily bread. God moves in our lives to protect us--not necessarily from pain, but from hopelessness and despair. We are here today because of what God has accomplished in our lives in the past.
The song we sing should be new each and every morning. Sing that new song is meant to become an old but meaningful habit.
A LIVING TESTIMONY
When we respond to God's grace and love in our lives, we would expect that the Psalmist would call us to a good, religious life. A life where we are more involved in worship and other "churchy" activities. In fact, the Psalmist not only does not call us to that type of life, he pointedly declares that such a life is not what the Lord requires.
In verse three the Psalmist declares that happy people are those who place their trust in the Lord. In other words, the proper response to God's grace in our lives is to walk in a new, dynamic relationship with God. This includes resting in God's loving care. It also involves doing God's will--obeying the leading of the Holy Spirit. In verse eight the Psalmist declares, "I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”
Our lives become testimonies to God's love and grace. Our witness, however, doesn't stop at living lives of obedience and service. In verse eight the Psalmist also states that he will share the good news of his deliverance--God's movement in his life--to the entire congregation.
This is something that most of us are uncomfortable doing. It is not politically correct to talk about religion. Society doesn't want people of faith cramming down their particular brand of religion down their throats. Nor does society want to engage in pointless religious arguments where no one listens and theological positions are hardened. Still, I think telling stories of how God has blessed us--at an appropriate time--is not only tolerated, but also enjoyed. We like to hear a good story. We can also merely acknowledge what we see God doing in our lives in a daily basis.