Summary: When we need God, don’t be afraid to ask!
I. Introduction - the Benefits of Reading Psalms
One of the benefits of reading the Psalms is that they present us with pictures of what godly people in the past have experienced and how they got through them. And when we read those stories it gives us encouragement to keep on living for God even if we are experiencing troubles and difficulties.
Psalm 40 is one of the clearest psalms that tell us a pattern of how a person with faith in God goes through life when he encounters troubles.
You’ve already heard the first 11 verses read. As we concentrate on the first 3 verses this morning, we see a pattern of life that emerges that looks like this:
In vs. 2 it describes King David admitting that He is in a pit. That’s the first stage of the pattern.
Then we see he cries out to God for help at the end of vs. 1.
The third stage is patiently waiting for God to deliver him.
Then we see God rescues him by drawing him out of the pit in vs. 2.
The fifth stage is God gives David a new song to sing in vs. 3.
And finally we see many others come to trust in God because of his testimony.
Let’s look at each of these stages.
II. Six Stages
1. He Is in a Pit
The first thing that we read is that David is in a pit. But this may not mean a literal pit; David may be describing a situation in which he feels as if he was in a pit.
Although we are not sure the exact situation that he is facing, we can get a sense of what David felt when he uses the imagery of a slimy pit.
I have not been in a pit, or trapped inside it, but I have seen deep pits in cemeteries where the workmen have dug holes for burial. Suppose a dry pit like that is not covered and it rains some. Pretty soon the pit will turn muddy and slimy. That is what mire means in vs. 2. Mire is deep mud and slush. It is tough enough to be in a deep pit that is dry, imagine if you are stuck in it when it is muddy. As hard as you try to get out, you keep on slipping and falling back into the pit.
Maybe this is what Joseph in the Bible experienced when he was thrown into a cistern by his brothers. The word translated "cistern" in Joseph’s experience is the same word as "pit" here. And the prophet Jeremiah was also thrown into a cistern, a pit, by King Zedekiah, where it says "there was no water in the cistern, but only mire and Jeremiah sank in the mire" (Jer. 38:6).
I hope we have not fallen into a physical pit like that ourselves. But what could it represent in our life?
I think when there is a sense of hopelessness and desperation, like you are stuck for a long time in a bind and you can’t get out, no matter how hard you try, and no one is coming to help you, that is what being in a pit feels like. In people’s lives today, it could be the breaking point for someone who is overworked at their place of employment, where they work 10 or 12 hours per day and it just goes on and on.
Or it could be the limit of a mother with small children at home, it could be the impossible expectations of too many classes in school, it could be the physical and recurring pain of someone who suffers an illness, or the constant strains of not having enough money. These are the pits we might face.
You scratch and claw to try to get out and get some air and relief, but you keep falling back into the pit and there seems to be no hope of improvement. A sense of desperation and futility settles in.
David felt like that.
What does he do next?
2. He Cries Out to God for Help
He cries out to God for help.
David cries out to ask God for help, and he is most likely crying tears of pain because the suffering is so great.
David cried tears at other times too. In Ps. 6:6 David says, "I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears." In the NASB translation of Ps. 56:8, David writes, "Put my tears in Thy bottle, Are they not in Thy book?"
David was an emotional man. In other words, David lived a real life. He did not hide his tears when it hurt. Jesus said to his disciples, "Blessed are those who mourn." It is very manly, very human, to be able to mourn.