Summary: Sometimes we find ourselves in the miry pit, either through our own sin, the sin of others, or just bad stuff happening. That is the time to learn to wait on God, trust his word, obey his prompting, and glorify his name.
Psalm 40:1-11 January 19, 2020
We’ve all been there. Sometimes life is good, and sometimes life is not so good. Sometimes you are the bird sailing high up in the air, and sometimes...you are the statue. Sometimes we’re on a mountain high, and other times we may be in the valley of despair. At times you may be desperate for God. What do you do in those moments? How do you survive? Psalm 40 gives us some clues from King David, a man “after God’s own heart.”
David described those off days as being in the pit, down in the miry, slimy, muddy pit (v. 2). Maybe you can picture it. You seem to be stuck. The walls are too slick, too high. That friend betrayed your name. The project you were working on fell apart. Your loved one stopped calling. Your doctor delivered bad news. These are just a few examples.
Let’s consider from David’s psalm why we get in trouble and then what to do about it. First,
We get into trouble...
1. Because of our sin
David writes, in the second half of v. 12, “My sins have overtaken me and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me”
Sometimes we just bring things down on ourselves. I have made some incredible blunders in life, and I have no one to blame but myself. I sent an e-mail that should never have been sent. I let the words fly out of my mouth that cut my loved one in terrible ways. I hurt others. My thoughts, words, and actions betrayed my faith in God. Like David, we have all had our own sins overtake us and blind us. What seemed like a good idea in that moment of temptation turned out to be a really bad idea.
My wife and I recently watched the movie, “The Shack.” Even though I had read the book before, I cried all the way through the movie! They were happy tears, marveling at God’s incredible grace. One line in particular grabbed me: The main character asked God, “What about that punishment you dish out when we sin? You have to punish us, right?” And God replied, “No, I don’t have to punish anyone; sin brings its own punishment without my help.” Isn’t that true? What you thought would give you kicks suddenly has a kick-back! Our own sin brings us trouble. And we also have trouble...
2. Because of others’ sin
David describes this in verse 14: “all who want to take my life” and “all who desire my ruin.” You don’t have to be paranoid to know there are people out to get you. No matter where you go or what you do, you’ll always have a critic. Someone once told me, “Critics keep you honest.” They keep you on your toes. And sometimes people go well beyond criticizing; they really hurt you in some way. They bring trouble down on you, with their actions or their words. It hurts. And lastly, we have trouble...
3. Because of trouble around us
That’s what David says in the first part of v. 12: “For troubles without number surround me.” Sometimes bad stuff happens for no good reason to perfectly good people. It’s not anybody’s fault; not your sin nor anyone else’s sin. For now, we live in a broken world. Sometimes bad things just happen. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one. I know a couple of chaplains who have lost kids to illness. How terrible is that? Trouble just happens sometimes.
So what to do about it? To deal with trouble when it comes your way, I recommend four things from David’s psalm. First,
To deal with trouble...
1. Take in God’s word
God’s word, the Bible, is God’s book of promises to you. It is your weapon against the evil one who seeks to bring your downfall. God’s word is powerful. So you need to keep your weapon cocked before you need it. In other words, you need to know God’s word before temptation strikes, before someone hurts you, before you have a bad day. Look at how David put it in the second half of v. 8:
“Your law is within my heart” (v. 8b)
A person’s heart was considered to be the innermost center of their being. Tuck God’s word into your heart, into your soul. Read it daily. Listen to it. Grab a copy of “Our Daily Bread” in the hallway. (I discovered that if you listen to that through their website or a daily e-mail they send you, they even include a longer chunk of scripture, the context of their verse of the day.) Come to our Bible studies to understand the Good Book better. Memorize verses. A verse I learned as a kid comes from the longest chapter of the Bible, Psalm 119. That entire psalm is a huge poem about the importance of scripture! Psalm 119:11 reads, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”