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But in-between those two verses is a wealth of good stuff.
This week I started to read Jesus, A Theography by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. In the book the authors seek to show the connection, in detail, between the Old Testament and the New Testament. “What we will demonstrate in this book is that everything in the Bible points to Jesus—either His person, His work, or His character” (page xviii). So as I read Psalm 40 this morning I looked at it with slightly different eyes, searching again for the connection. It wasn’t hard to find. I only had to look at the first three verses.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 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.”
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see Jesus in this passage. In fact, one of the Lord’s parables comes to mind here. Luke 6:46-49 describes two men. One built his house on the rock; the other build his on the sand. When the flood came, the man who had built on the sand lost everything while the man who had built on the rock was kept safe. Obviously the reference in both places is to Christ, the One upon Whom our faith is built and upon Whom our salvation depends.
The psalmist is full of praise to God, praise made possible only because it is the Lord Who has given him a new song to sing—a salvation song. A little later in Psalm 40, David expresses it this way: “But may all you see you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, ‘The Lord be exalted!’” (40:16)
David was never without his struggles but there was one thing, one foundation that could never be shaken no matter what the circumstances of life brought his way. He could sing his “new song” even though the notes might be written in a minor key. Salvation was always there to be rejoiced in. The Rock—Christ—upon which that salvation was built before the world began, could never be moved.
I am also reading a book edited by Grant Gordon called Wise Counsel. The book is basically made up of the letters John Newton wrote to John Ryland Jr., a sort of Paul to Timothy relationship. John Newton wrote, among others, the hymn Amazing Grace, based on his own salvation experience and the wonder he felt that God should be so merciful as to save someone like him who had sunk to such levels of sins as to trade in human flesh. The hymn is written in the minor key, based on the music that Newton heard the slaves sing as he carried them out of Africa.
The song of salvation, whatever key it is written in, is one that those of us who have come to build our lives on the sure foundation of Christ, can sing with gusto: “The Lord be exalted!” And part of me would like to think that David’s remarks at the end “O my God, do not delay” was simply a plea for the Lord to keep the song fresh in his mind and heart so that whatever “shakeables” happened in his life, he would never forget the unshakeable foundation upon which his faith was built.