A Sermon in Song:
The Power of Singing Saints
Based on Psalm 40
Part I – Psalm 40
“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.” (Ps. 40:1-3)
The most unusual thing about this Psalm is its structure. Though psalms usually begin with complaint, and then move to thanks, this psalm reverses the order. Thanks (vs. 1-10) is followed by lament (vs. 11-17). Here the psalmist seemed to have a gratitude so strong that he reverses the normal order to give prominence to thanksgiving.
The context of this psalm is shown by verses 3, 9, 10 to have been the public worship of the congregation (Broadman Bible Commentary). Psalm 40 appears to be a combination of two independent songs. Since Psalm 40:13-17 are practically identical with Psalm 70, both are ascribed to David and dedicated to the chief musician.
“Hasten, O God, to save me; O LORD, come quickly to help me. May those who seek my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace. May those who say to me, ‘Aha! Aha!’ turn back because of their shame. But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, ‘Let God be exalted!’ Yet I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay.” (Psalm 70:1-5)
The writer of Hebrews quotes from this psalm: “When Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am–it is written about me in the scroll — I have come to do your will, O God’” (Hebrews 10:5-7). In the original Hebrew, Ps. 40:6 says, “you have opened my ears” instead of “a body you have prepared for me.” The writer has adapted the words of the psalm to fit his message about Christ.
Ash and Miller in their commentary on the Psalms suggest this outline for Psalm 40: Reflection on God’s glorious deliverance of his patient servant (1-3), leading to a blessing (4), extolling God (5), a statement of personal commitment (6 – 8) and a public proclamation of God’s salvation (9 – 10); thanksgiving is followed by a prayer for God’s steadfast love in the face of innumerable evils (11-12); a renewed plea for help (13-17) is interrupted by an expostulation on the joy of salvation (16).
In his Sermons on the Psalms (1931), Clovis Chappell writes about Psalm 40: “On the farm where I lived there is one of the loveliest springs that ever sang its way out of the hills. We call it the Basin Spring. The waters of this spring used to flow over a large flat rock. But one day hands that have probably been dust for centuries chiseled a basin upon the face of this rock. That basin, even in times of severest drought, is always filled to overflowing. This is the case because it has water constantly flowing into it from an unfailing reservoir among the great hills. And so it is with the music of this joyous singer of Psalm 40. His song is born of the inexhaustible resources that are locked in the heart of God” (181).
“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.” The psalmist recalls his waiting for the Lord to answer – persistent waiting – the psalmist seems to have waited in earnest expectation. He cried out, and as a result the Lord turned aside to him. How many forfeit God’s blessings because they fail to wait and hear?
“Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart – wait, I say, on the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)
“Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” (Isaiah 40:31 NASB)
Hand in Hand With Jesus – “Jesus heard and answered prayer”
Hear Me When I Call
Teach me Lord to Wait
Tis the Blessed Hour of Prayer – “The Savior draws near . . . His children to hear“
“HE LIFTED ME OUT OF THE PIT”
There are two images of disaster – the pit and miry clay (Ps 40:2). Also there are two images of safety – the rock and established steps (Ps. 40:2). The main point of the psalm is that God inclined and heard. The Lord lifted him up out of the pit and he is able now to take firm steps.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation … in the time of trouble He shall set me high upon a rock.” (Ps. 27:5)
He Lifted Me
Into the Heart of Jesus
Love Lifted Me
“HE PUT A NEW SONG IN MY MOUTH”
A gift from God, this new song of deliverance supplants the old song of complaints. David had a new beginning with a new song of praise in his mouth: “Sing to him a new song … and shout for joy.” (Psalm 33:3)
One preacher had a three-point outline for a sermon from verses 2 and 3:
God brought the psalmist up
God stood the psalmist up
God tuned the psalmist up
One worshipper once said, “Please! NO more new hymns! What’s wrong with the inspiring hymns with which we grew up? I go to church to worship God, not to be distracted with learning a new hymn. Last Sunday’s hymn was particularly unnerving. While the text was good, the tune was quite unsingable and the harmonies were quite discordant.” This letter was written in 1890! The hymn that elicited the complaint was What A Friend We Have In Jesus. Every song was once new.
Revelation 5:9 – “And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.’”
The key to singing the new song is a singing heart. A Christian should be a two-legged melody in tune with God.
A new song describes a new experience. When God does something great for him, the psalmist has a new song to celebrate a new life. R. Conder says, “The new song of which Psalm 40:3 and Revelation 5:9-10 speak is one the heart must learn in the school of trials. It is a song of deliverance. Deliverance and escape are not synonymous! A prisoner might file through the bars of a jail cell and escape, but the prisoner who is pardoned by the governor is delivered. The new song is a song of unmerited forgiveness. It is a song of love and praise. It is a song of an enriched spiritual life with a wiser, stronger and humbler faith. He who has been in the pit of despair, leading him on his knees in prayer, then on the rock of faith is the person who will stand and sing praises to God.” (quoted in Jim Jordan, Psalms)
Take My Life and Let It Be – “Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.”
The New Song
There’s a New Song In My Heart
I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord Forever
Part II – The Power of Saints Singing the New Song
Saints singing the New Song proclaim the mighty deeds of God:
Psalm 40:5 – “Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.”
From Folk Psalms of Faith, Ray C. Stedman (pp. 117-118): “Dr. John McIntyre, professor of Nuclear Physics at Texas A & M, said about studying the Bible: “We physicists have discovered so many tremendously intriguing truths about nature, and the result has been an explosion of knowledge such as the world has never seen. … Sir Isaac Newton said, ‘We’re but dabbling in the shallows in a vast ocean of knowledge that stretches unexplored before us.’ McIntyre continues: “That’s the way I feel about the Bible. It’s such a vast revelation which I’ve only begun to explore. … There are times when I am dumbfounded with amazement at how much is in this book and how little I know. How vast is this unexplored area which breaks upon my astonished gaze to tell me more about who I am as a man, who God is, and how I’m related to Him.”
Ephesians 3:20 speaks of the power of God at work in His people: “To him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
I Sing the Mighty Power of God
The Spacious Firmament
Saints singing the New Song resist Satan and defeat their enemies:
Psalm 40:12-13 – “For evils have encompassed me beyond number. … Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me! O Lord, make haste to help me!”
The devil is allergic to praise given to God!
Am I A Soldier of the Cross
He Is Able To Deliver Thee
Onward Christian Soldiers
Saints singing the New Song sing of deliverance and security:
Psalm 40:2 – “He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
The distress of the psalmist is like struggling in the mire of the pit contrasted with the great trust of God’s deliverance to safety on a rock with solid footing and security.
“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.” (Psalm 61:1-4)
A Shelter in the Time of Storm
How Firm a Foundation
My Hope is Built on Nothing Else
Shelter Us Under Thy Wing
The Rock That Is Higher Than I
Saints singing the New Song reach the sinner with the message of God’s grace:
Psalm 40:3 – “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.”
Come ye Sinners, Poor and Needy
Sinners Jesus will Receive
Sermon in Song prepared by Paul Brown (1929-2017)