Summary: The answer for the anguish of emotional burnout is through 1) The Merciful Rescue by God (Psalm 40:1–3), 2) The Multiple Resources in God (Psalm 40:4, 5), 3) The Motivational Responses to God(Psalm 40:6–10)

Today as we remember our brave men and women who fought in defence of the freedoms we enjoy we often think of those who lost their lives in combat. We tend to overlook however those who were injured in battle. The one injury that is hardest to detect is the one that can't be seen in a physical examination: The mental anguish, specifically Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The emotional burnout that can develop from PTSD, occurs when people relive the feelings associated with the original traumatizing event whenever they find themselves in the same or similar situations. Also common to both is bad dreams, feeling fearful, and finding it difficult to stop thinking about what happened. (

In Psalm 40, the Psalmist expresses anguish, despair and an emotional burnout. Given the nature of the psalm, the metaphors may also express the threat to Israel’s national existence by an enemy attack. The king personified the severity of the crisis by the imagery of his own suffering and the Lord’s deliverance. The deliverance experienced personally by the king was representative of the experience of the nation (VanGemeren, W. A. (1991). Psalms. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Volume 5: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.) (318). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.).

The burnout experienced by military, police, fire and rescue personnel is a civic problem. They serve us, and on remembrance day, their pain, distress and burnout personifies and represents the feelings that any one of us can suffer with. Their answer, like our answer, is in more than remembrance. It is in action. God is not unaware of this distress. He calls out to each and every one of us to come to Him.

The answer for the anguish of emotional burnout is through 1) The Merciful Rescue by God (Psalm 40:1–3), 2) The Multiple Resources in God (Psalm 40:4, 5), 3) The Motivational Responses to God (Psalm 40:6–10)

1) The Merciful Rescue by God (Psalm 40:1–3)

Psalm 40:1-3 [40:1]I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. [2]He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. [3]He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. (ESV)

The attribution of the psalm to David rests solely on the superscription. The contents have no discernible points of connection with known circumstances in his or any other life (Maclaren, A. (1903). The Psalms. In W. Robertson Nicoll (Ed.), The Expositor's Bible, Volume 3: Psalms to Isaiah (W. Robertson Nicoll, Ed.). Expositor’s Bible (110). Hartford, CT: S.S. Scranton Co.).

The speaker in verse one says He waited patiently for the LORD. It is believed that David wrote this psalm either at the time of Absalom’s rebellion, or the rebellion of Adonijah (Smith, J. E. (1996). The wisdom literature and Psalms. Old Testament Survey Series (Ps 40). Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co.).

The Hebrew (literally, “waiting, I waited”) may indicate “I continued to wait.” Here the verb for “to wait” (qawwoh qiwwithi) is repeated, a form that indicates intensity. The psalmist waited patiently and intently for Yahweh to deliver him (Barry, J. D., Grigoni, M. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 40:1). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Since the verb qâwâh also carries the connotation of expectancy or hope (Tesh, S. E., & Zorn, W. D. (1999). Psalms. The College Press NIV Commentary (303). Joplin, MO: College Press.).

The Hebrew idiom for the ‘waiting’ in v. 1 suggests a testing ordeal where hope and trust had to be sustained (Eaton, J. (2003). The Psalms: A historical and spiritual commentary with an introduction and new translation (173). London; New York: T&T Clark.)

David responded to his dilemma by waiting patiently for the Lord. In other words, he cast himself and his situation completely upon the Lord as the only possible way out. This doesn’t mean he passively sat down and fatalistically said, ‘If the Lord wants to deliver me, he will deliver me.’ His waiting rather consisted of crying to the Lord. Prayer is the means God has ordained for working his purposes out in the lives of his children (Ellsworth, R. (2006). Opening up Psalms. Opening Up Commentary (105). Leominster: Day One Publications.).

As with Abraham, it is likely that as the Psalmist “waited patiently” his faith grew (cf. Rom. 4:20–21). Thus Jesus tells us to keep on asking, to keep on seeking, and to keep on knocking, in present imperatives (Luke 11:9) (Williams, D., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1986). Vol. 13: Psalms 1–72. The Preacher’s Commentary Series (318). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.)

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