Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ramblings on Psalm 40

"I waited patiently for the LORD;
he inclined to me
and heard my cry.

"He drew me up
from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.

He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD."
- Psalm 40:1-3 (ESV)

Psalm 40 is one of my favorite psalms. It is a song of deliverance from "the miry bog".

A bog is a poorly drained place where dead things have accumulated. Typically, bogs reek of decay, service mosquitoes and similar nasties, and are generally not very pleasant places to visit.

How often I get stuck in the muddy bogs of this life! In many ways a typical male, I hesitate to ask for (or sometimes even to follow) directions, and often end up stuck, surrounded by death and decay. I even try to slog through the bog, believing that by my own strength and abilities, I'll be able to navigate my way to freedom.

The truth is that the Lord is perfectly willing to guide me on my journey, and to keep me from the smells and difficulties of the bogs; I need only listen. He anxiously and excitedly awaits for me to follow his lead and copy his own footsteps.

Preparing to preach on this text, I've noted that the Hebrew words the ESV translates as "pit of destruction" can also mean "noisy dungeon". What a wonderfully rich image!

The dungeon or bog in which I get stuck is a place of death, decay...and noise! Distractions abound on this journey. If I am to follow Jesus faithfully, I need to focus on our mission and destination, and not on those things on the periphery which through babel sounds seek to draw my attention elsewhere and lead me onto alternate paths. In order to focus, I need more of Jesus' presence, more of Jesus' grace...more of Jesus.

Perhaps this is why Psalm 40 is linked in the week's lectionary selections to 1 Corinthians 1, which makes the point that Jesus is the One "who will sustain you to the end".


wes said...

U2 also has a song based on Psalm 40, called oddly enough 40. I'm sure you already knew that but that was the way that this particular Psalm has become one of my favorites as well.

Keith H. McIlwain said...

LOVE that song.

Chris said...

I was once in a swamp (western PA for bog) up to the middle of my chest. I'll never forget the suction and hold that it has. Praise God for the freedom the He has giving to us!

Brett Probert said...

Actually preached on this text last night at a church in New Castle. My own testimony.

Jeff Kahl said...

Thanks for that, Keith. I love how blatantly honest the Psalms are about the "bad places" in life, and how God is always there to deliver us!

On a lighter note, you made me think of that scene in "Stand By Me" where the 4 guys walk through the swamp and end up covered in leeches.