A penitent prayer for God's help when troubles abound and enemies rejoice at the prospect of the psalmist's ruin.
st. 1 = vv. 1-5
st. 2 = vv. 6-10
st. 3 = vv. 11-13
st. 4 = vv. 14-17
Psalm 40 notes a time of "troubles without number"–troubles the psalmist sees as brought on by sins outnumbering the hairs of his head (v. 12). The occasion cannot be identified, but the situation would fit the circumstances in David's life at the time of Absalom's rebellion. The psalmist begins with an affirmation of trust and a recollection of God's past mercies ("he lifted me out of the slimy pit," st. 1), followed by a declaration of commitment to God's will and to praising God (st. 2). Then comes an appeal that God not withhold mercy, but come to the psalmist's aid-even though the troubles have come because of sin–for they are overwhelming (st. 3). The psalmist also asks God not to delay in shaming enemies and to let all who seek the LORD rejoice and magnify him (st. 4). Hebrews 10 applies vv. 6-8 (st. 2) of Psalm 40 to Christ as the One who has done God's will and has brought a better sacrifice. Bert Polman (PHH 37) versified this psalm prayer in 1980 for morning worship at a Christian Association for Psychological Studies convention for Christian counselors. This unrhymed versification was published for the first time in the 1987 Psalter Hymnal.
Thanksgiving and dedication (st. 1-2); Advent or Lent (st. 2); pleas for God's help (st. 3-4); times when the church reflects on the life-troubling consequences of sin.
-->Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1998