- A psalm of David.1 For the music leader.
- 1 I waited patiently for the LORD to come and help me.
He heard my prayers and he came.
- 2 He pulled me to safety, out of a deadly pit.
Out of the slime, the mud, and the crud.
He planted my feet on solid rock.
- 3 He gave me a new song to sing,
A happy song of thanks to our God.
People are going to see what he did.
When they do, they’ll start trusting the LORD.
- 4 Happy people trust the LORD.
They don’t waste their faith on egomaniacs,
Or on fake religions and flakey philosophies.
- 5 LORD God, you’ve done wonderful things for us.
And there’s more to come.
If I tried to recite each blessing,
I’d run out of years before you ran out of blessings.
- 6 You don’t want money or animal sacrifices.
I finally figured it out, with your help.
Sacrifices aren’t what you want.
- 7 So I said, “Look, here I am.
You’ve written me into the book of sacred scrolls.2
Your laws are written for me.
You wrote your law on my heart
- 8 You are my God,
And I want what you want.
You wrote your law onto my heart.
It’s part of who I am.”
- 9 I tell everyone about what you did.
I won’t shut up.
I’ll let the praise keep pouring out.
And, LORD, you know it’s true.
- 10 I won’t hoard your goodness.
I’m sharing it and telling everyone you saved me.
I won’t hide your love, either, like it’s a secret.
I’m telling everyone the truth about it.
- 11 LORD, keep your compassion coming my way.
Your love, and kindness, and truth
Always keep me safe.
- 12 I’ve got more troubles than I can count.
Consequences of my countless sins have caught up with me.
They outnumber the hairs on my hairy head.
I don’t know what to do.
- 13 Please, LORD, rescue me.
Hurry, LORD, I need your help.3
- 14 Shame on people who want me dead.
Humiliate them all.
Disgrace those who want to hurt me.
Send them running for their lives.
Give me the last laugh
- 15 May those laughing at me
With a “Hah, hah, hah!”
Choke on shame
And appall themselves for what they did.
- 16 May everyone who searches for you
Be glad they found you.
May those who love that you saved them
Never stop saying, “Wow, what a wonderful LORD!”
- 17 As for me, I’m poor and needing help.
But I know I’m on the Lord’s4 mind.
You’re the one who helps me
You’re the one who saves.
Do it now, my God. Help me now.
The subtitle wasn’t part of the original psalm. And the possible byline “of David,” isn’t necessarily a byline. The vague phrase could mean the song was written by David, about David, or was inspired by David. Almost half of the psalms are attributed to David in this way, 73 of 150. Ancient Jewish history tells of David playing a lyre and writing songs. For one, he wrote a song of mourning at the battlefield death of King Saul and his sons: “How have the mighty fallen!” (2 Samuel 1:19-27 New American Standard Bible). An ancient Jewish scroll from about the time of Jesus, discovered among the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, reports that David wrote 3,600 songs.
This sounds like a reference to the Jewish laws summarized in the book of Deuteronomy.
Psalm 40:13-17 is nearly identical to all five verses in Psalm 70.
40:17. This “Lord” is not in all capital letters like most other “LORD” spellings in Psalms and throughout the Bible. “LORD” appears around 7,000 times in the Christian Bible, which makes it the most common way of referring to God. The lower-case “Lord” is a translation of the Hebrew word Adonai. It refers to God as our master, our life coach, or the boss. He’s in charge of us, and we try to obey him. “LORD” is the spelling most Bibles use when the writer refers to the name of God. Moses asked God what his name was, and God said Moses should tell the Israelite ancestors of the Jews that his name is “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). In the original Hebrew language, the name is spelled with only consonants—no vowels. It’s an ancient shorthand, to save hides used to make scrolls. The name is YHWH. Without knowing which vowels, most scholars have settled on YAHWEH, pronounced YAH-way. For those freaky enough to wonder if it’s possible that God might have the name of YAHWHO, no. Hebrew linguist Dr. Joseph Coleson, Old Testament professor emeritus at Nazarene Theological Seminary, said, “No Semitic language ever would allow all three root letters [HWH] to occur in succession together, in any form of any root, without vowels to break them up.” God’s name is so sacred to many Jews that they refuse to speak it. Instead, they’ll use names that describe the character of God, such as Adonai, which means “my Lord.” They won’t even write the name. In English, they’ll spell the name G-d.