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Psalm 40: Drowning in Sin

“Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD; may your love and your truth always protect me.

“For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me.” (Psalm 40:11-12)

Whoa! Was that an octave change? Did David’s song about the great goodness of God just hit some minor notes? He’s seriously shifted gears from praising God to asking God for help to pointing out what a big sinner he is.

ps40_350It shouldn’t surprise us. When you look deeply into the goodness of God, when you really force yourself to dwell on just how kind and intensely generous he is, you eventually start to notice the enormous contrast between his goodness and your own lack of it.

David felt very aware of his sinful choices. He uses the language of illness to describe his shame: I can’t see; my heart fails. He begs his good God for mercy and help to escape the consequences of his sin.

Think: Does participating in the worship of God ever make you more aware of your own sinful choices? Do you ever feel the desire to confess your sin to God and ask for his help in overcoming it?

Pray: Ask God to let his goodness provoke you to confess to him your lack of goodness and then thank him for forgiving your sin through your faith in Jesus’ death in your place on the cross.

Do: Look for contrasts and similarities this week between God’s character and yours.

Psalm 40: Talk Talk Talk about It

“I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, as you know, O LORD.

“I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.” (Psalm 40:9-10)

How can we possibly respond to the absolute goodness of God in a way that makes sense? In a way that fits? Yesterday, we saw that David’s first response was to change his wants, to feel the desire to live for God.

ps40_350Now he says the next logical response is to talk about God’s goodness. That makes so much sense to me, but I’ve noticed that most of us are either forgetful or just really shy when it comes to talking about how big God’s goodness to us has been.

We need to get out some solvent and unseal our lips so all kinds of words about God’s goodness can come flowing out of us. We need to stop playing hide-and-seek with what we know from experience about God’s love, about his mercy, about his goodness.

Think: Do you ever want to talk about God’s goodness and feel like your mouth is sealed shut for some reason? What could you do to make it easier to say something out loud to another person about how good God really is to you?

Pray: Ask God to give you the desire and the courage to proclaim his goodness to other believers and maybe even to some non-Christians.

Do: Make a plan to say out loud one good thing about God to another person sometime this week.

Psalm 40: He Wants Your Wants

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.

“Then I said, ‘Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:6-8)

So what should we do with God’s great giant huge goodness? How should we respond to all the good he has done for us? All the good he has done period? What can we do?

ps40_350Right away, David tells God (and us) that he knows God isn’t looking for mechanical worship in the form of sacrifices and offerings. David’s ears have been opened (“pierced”); he knows that God wants his “wants.”

Seeing God’s goodness has changed David down to his roots. He won’t go through the motions of worship; he wants to do God’s will. He won’t just follow the letter of the law; he wants to live God’s goodness out in his life.

Think: How much of your Christian life is about “following the rules” and how much is about really wanting to do what your good God wants?

Pray: Ask God to help you to stay out of the rut of mindlessly following the “rules” of Christianity and the repetition of same-every-week worship. Ask him to help you to respond to his goodness with a real desire to do the good he wants for you.

Do: Make a quick list of some of the areas of your Christian life that would be easy to “do” without thinking or feeling or wanting God’s goodness.

Psalm 40: Don’t Judge God in Pieces

“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.” (Psalm 40:5)

Even for Christians, a battle rages in our hearts sometimes. We’re always evaluating our circumstances, what’s going on all around us, and trying to make sense of it. It’s tempting for us to decide that whatever went wrong or right today is evidence of God’s goodness (or lack of it).

ps40_350The problem with that is there’s just no way to evaluate what God is doing based on the events of any one day. It’s like deciding whether we like a picture by one piece of jigsaw puzzle from the box: “This piece is all black; what a lousy picture! What a lousy photographer!”

As David does here, we’ve got to pull ourselves out of the moment and look over our shoulders for evidence of God’s goodness. Start listing all the good things he’s done for you and for his people before you, and a beautiful image of God’s goodness starts to form.

Think: Are you ever tempted to judge God’s goodness by one day or one event in your life?

Pray: Thank God for all the wonders he has done in your life and the lives of others who have followed him. Ask him to help you to live with a grateful heart and an awareness of his great goodness.

Do: Start a Wonders List with a few evidences from your own life of God’s goodness.

Psalm 40: Make Your Trust

“Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.” (Psalm 40:4)

What have you made your trust? It’s kind of a weird phrase in our ears, but we all do it every day. Some of us make money our trust. Some of us make the idea that someday we’ll have money our trust. Some of us make a relationship—or the hope of one—or sex or straight A’s or excellent grooming our trust.

ps40_350In David’s world, where everyone believed in gods and believed the gods they believed in brought them every good or lousy thing, picking your trust was a huge deal. One method: Find the people with the life you wish you had (“the proud”), and sign up with their gods.

We often do the same. We look to the beautiful or rich or victorious and try to “do what they do.” It fails now just like it did then. Our God is the only one worthy of our trust. Why? Because he is the source of all goodness.

Think: Do you ever catch yourself, even subtly, trying to be like the popular or powerful people in your life in hopes of getting what you want? Why doesn’t life work that way?

Pray: Ask God to help you make him your trust more and more every day. Thank him for his goodness and that he is completely trustworthy.

Do: Make a quick list of some of the other things in life you’ve been tempted to make “your trust.”

Psalm 40: The Spotify in My Heart

“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. ” (Psalm 40:3)

Maybe more than ever, people love music. You can say it’s because of the technology. The ability to record and playback music was a revolution, and the explosion of the Internet and mp3 players and streaming audio in the last few years changed everything again.

ps40_350I don’t know about you, but I listen to all kinds of artists and styles of music now— just because its so easy and fun and satisfying—that I never would have heard in the days of buying and playing CDs one at a time or waiting for songs I liked to pop up on the radio.

Over and over David says that music is evidence of God’s goodness. Specifically, God changes the soundtrack of our hearts by saving us from destruction and treating us with kindness. He gives us new songs to sing, songs about his goodness.

Think: How often do you think of music as being God’s gift to you? How often do you sing songs to him that demonstrate how good you think he is?

Pray: Thank God for music. Thank him specifically for changing the soundtrack in your heart by always meeting your needs. Ask him to help you sing about his goodness.

Do: Either alone now or in church soon, sing a song to God about how good he is. Remember that music is a gift from him.

Psalm 40: Waiting on the Wing

“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. ” (Psalm 40:1-2)

Did you see the amazing pictures from that plane crash in New York a few years ago? They made a move about it. A US Airways Jet with about 150 people aboard had a problem after take off and crash landed—successfully—into the Hudson River. As the plane slowly sank, passengers stood on the wings waiting for boats to come and pick them up. Everyone survived.

ps40_350Just guessing, but I doubt those passengers were angry with the captains of the boats that picked them up. Nobody standing on the wing of that disappearing plane refused to wait one more minute. How could they? They waited as long as it took for those good captains to rescue them.

When you’ve been rescued once, twice, three times by your good God, you begin to trust his timing. He never shows up late; that helps me to wait with patience. He always sets me down in a solid, dry spot; that helps me wait with confidence in his goodness.

Think: How patient are you when waiting on God to meet your needs? When he doesn’t arrive as soon as you’d like him to, do you wonder if maybe he’s not so good?

Pray: Thank God for showing you his goodness by meeting your needs in the past, including your need to be rescued from hard circumstances sometimes. Ask him to help you to wait patiently for his timing in your life today.

Do: Check out the story and some of the pictures from that plane crash.