Today’s passage: Psalm 40
Today’s chocolate: Endangered Species 88% cacao dark chocolate
Shortly after I began reading Psalms for Chocolate Book, my church started a series on the Psalms, titled “Honest to God.” Coincidence? I think not. Yesterday, the sermon covered Psalm 51, and I’d like to tie in one of the points from that sermon to Psalm 40 here. Take a look at Psalm 51:15: “O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise.” David invites God to take control of his vocal apparatus, to deliver him in such a way that he can’t help but praise him. I’m a believer in free will, but when you ask God to come to your aid, you’d better expect him to do something so good it’ll get you talking about it. God’s deliverance leads to worship.
Right out the gate, David establishes this as a psalm of new orientation. He’s been through distress, God’s rescued him from it, and the result is this song. He sings: “[The Lord] brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm” (40:2). David’s been bogged down in a hole–maybe a hole of impending death, maybe a cry hole, maybe some other form of equally terrible hole–but God has reached down and pulled him out and given him a foundation to stand on.
So David sings. But he’s not the songwriter; he may be performing, but God is his Dr. Luke. (That’s singer/songwriter/producer Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald, not the author of Luke and Acts.) “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God” (40:3), David sings, not relegating the credit to the liner notes. And if in fact God created the universe, then he knew every line David was going to compose before he sung a note or penned a single word; God came up with the idea for this psalm, and David’s just recording it. Moreover, it’s a praise song. It would be an egregious act of self-aggrandizement for any human to write such an ode to themselves and expect others to perform it, but we don’t deserve the praise. We’re just not that good. God is.
Fact is, God has already delivered David more times than he can count. Of the wonders God has accomplished and his regard for his people, the psalmist writes: “If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count” (40:5). God’s feats of lovingkindness are too big to fit in a single song, or even a whole album or symphony or any finite composition–yet God does his good things anyway.
Make no mistake, though: David isn’t singing from a place free from pain. He concludes with an appeal for God to deliver him again. When the last chord plays, there’s another song to sing, and though David is counting on the God who’s delivered him before, there’s no guarantee that the next tune won’t be in a minor key.