Our Help and Deliverer (Psalm 40)

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Our Great Deliverer

Psalm 40

Hi, my name is Morgan Maitland–I am the High School pastor here at FBC. It is a privilege to be able to participate in this Psalms teaching series. Some of you may be wondering how it is that we came to these specific Psalms for the series. How were they chosen? Did Chris choose them for us? Are these the most important Psalms?

I wanted to kill the rumors and bring clarity to what happens behind the scenes. Chris invited us all over to house two years ago (because that is how far ahead he plans). He had a black hat on his kitchen table with 150 numbered pieces of paper in it. We were to reach in blindly and the number we pulled out was the Psalm that we would preach. So we each took a turn, one-by-one, reaching our hand in the hat.

John went first and coincidentally pulled out Psalm 1. Shawn went next and pulled out Psalm 73. I then put my hand in and pulled Psalm 40. Jon was next and as he reached in he was praying to the Lord that he would pick the shortest Psalm, feeling around for the smallest piece of paper. He got pretty close and pulled Psalm 130.

Nigel was last and of course you know Nige, with eyes way bigger than his stomach. He went for the biggest piece of paper in the hat and pulled Psalm 19. So that’s how we decide which passages to preach every Sunday. I’m kidding–we just flipped through the pages and pointed.

I was laughing to myself two weeks ago while Shawn was reading Psalm 73. Chris emailed us a while ago and asked us to send him the Psalm we wanted to preach for this series. I responded pretty quickly with 40. The Psalm has some really impactful language and meaning and the world’s greatest band wrote a song about it.

Shawn laughed at me. “Psalm 40 is way too big. How in the world do you expect to preach the whole of Psalm 40 in 50 minutes? Har har har.” Lo and behold, Shawn chose Psalm 73 which has 28 verses–the biggest Psalm of the series. Psalm 40 only has 17 verses! I’m giggling inside as Shawn is reading from Psalm 73. Who’s laughing now, Shawn Farrell! It took ten minutes to read your Psalm.

But in all seriousness, hasn’t this series been good? I’ve been so challenged and encouraged. The Psalms have this unique heart of worship behind them that just draw you to behold God and apply His word in your heart. I’ve been encouraged . . . to treasure God’s word (Psalm 1), to remain faithful to Christ and reject the desires of the world (Psalm 73), to see that forgiveness isn’t just a transaction God makes, but its goal is to restore the relationship (Psalm 130). And as I studied for this message, to trust in God our great Deliverer.

If you haven’t gotten the clue already, you can turn in your Bibles to Psalm 40. I’m going to read through the Psalm aloud as you read with me silently. As an encouragement, please don’t mindlessly participate in this exercise. Engage your mind in the reading of God’s Word. This is the purest part of the sermon, when the preacher reads directly from God’s inspired Scripture. It’s not my words, but God’s. Focus on every word with a desire to draw out what God would have for you from His Word.

For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He 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. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord.

“How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood. Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us; there is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count.

“Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; my ears You have opened; burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. Then I said, ‘Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.’

“I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation; behold, I will not restrain my lips, O Lord, You know. I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation.

“You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me. For evils beyond number have surrounded me; my iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see; they are more numerous than the hairs of my head, and my heart has failed me.

“Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me; make haste, O Lord, to help me. Let those be ashamed and humiliated together who seek my life to destroy it; let those be turned back and dishonored who delight in my hurt. Let those be appalled because of their shame who say to me, ‘Aha, aha!’ Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘The Lord be magnified!’

“Since I am afflicted and needy, let the Lord be mindful of me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God” (Psalm 40).

The theme of this Psalm is clear–deliverance comes from the Lord. So that is the main point of my message today. The structure is pretty simple. This Psalm can be broken into two sections. Section one, verses 1 to 10, is a testimony of past deliverance–David looks back to remember how the Lord delivered him in the past. Section two, verses 11 to 17, is a request for present deliverance. After looking back, David then turns his gaze up to the Lord and asks for deliverance from a present trial/hardship.

It’s from these two sections that I will pull my two points for this message–look back and look up for deliverance from the Lord. Everybody in this room needs help, every person in this room needs a deliverer.

For some of you, it doesn’t take much convincing to believe that. You are going through some really difficult trials right now. Some of you are thinking about your family. Your marriage is on the rocks and the future doesn’t look promising. Your kids are in a season of strong rebellion, not obeying–maybe some have rejected Christ altogether and walked away from the faith. You recently had a miscarriage and are working through the sorrows of losing a child. This time has been really difficult with your family.

Some of you are thinking about work–you need deliverance from a corrupt boss, or corrupt co-workers that persecute you for your faith. The projects keep piling up, the laborers are few, and all the responsibility has fallen on you. You lost a big account or a big client, and the company is struggling. The stress is piling up and you can’t get a break.

Some of you are thinking about finances–you want deliverance from your debt. You’re thinking about how you don’t know how you’re going to get through next month, paying the bills, keeping the house, or even putting food on the table.

Some of you are thinking about those physical ailments. The back issues that are getting worse—hey, hey. The sickness that you can’t get over, the diagnosis that you didn’t want to hear.

Some of you are in the trial right now and you need a Deliverer. For others life is good, really good. In your pride you think, “I don’t need help, I don’t need a deliverer.” Hakuna matata, “No worries.” Some of you are relying on your own strength–the fix-it type. “I can fix it myself–I don’t need any help.”

Let me ask you–if you were to somehow escape this life avoiding the common trials that we as human beings face every day (doubtful, but for fun, let’s say you did), how do you plan to save yourself from your sin? There is no way you’re pulling yourself out of that one. You need help. You need a Deliverer.

The good news Psalm 40 gives us is–Deliverance comes from the Lord. Verse 17 says, “You [Lord] are my help and my deliverer.” So won’t you trust Him today?

1)  Look Back for Deliverance

The saying is true, hindsight is 20/20. Looking back gives David a clear picture of God’s deliverance. In the midst of the trial, the truth can be blurry, can’t it? You’re unsure of God’s care for you–unsure that He is really in control. You don’t understand the purpose or goal. But then deliverance comes and the trial ends.

Time goes by and you look back with a clearer picture. God was faithful during that time. God was in control of every circumstance. God did have a purpose to grow me through it. That is what David does in the first section–he reminisces on past deliverance, reminding him of God’s character and his need. What can we learn from looking back?

What we can learn about God?

A.  He is the Deliverer of His people

This is the theme of the Psalm and a popular theme across all of the Psalms. Our God is Deliverer. “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer” (Psalm 18:2). “You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah” (Psalm 32:7). “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19).

The Hebrew word for deliverance can be translated “salvation” or “help.” That’s why, depending on your Bible translation, you will see a mixture of all three as you read through the Psalms. The definition is simple–to be pulled out of trouble. A deliverer brings someone from trouble to safety. We see this illustrated in verse 2. “He 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”–from trouble to safety.

A couple years ago, Lennon Tinahui, was playing on the side steps of the Jacuzzi. He couldn’t swim and somehow had fallen into the middle. (This is every parent’s worst nightmare—you look away for a split second. Nobody saw it and there was not a sound.)

In God’s providence, Ryland, his older brother and Natalie, his cousin, both around age 5, walked by and saw Lennon at the bottom of the Jacuzzi. Ryland jumped in right away to save him, but he was still too small to pull him out. All he could do was get under him and lift him above his head where someone else could see, so he did an incredible act of bravery and courage.

By this time, after hearing nearby screams, Johnny Tinahui rushed over to see Ryland under his brother, trying to lift him out of the water. He pulled Lennon out, brought him to land, performed CPR and praise God, Lennon returned to consciousness and is alive and well today. He was delivered–thanks to Ryland and Johnny, he was pulled out of trouble and brought to safety.

That is a perfect illustration of deliverance. Lennon fell into the water and was unable to deliver himself. But Ryland and Johnny stepped in, delivering him from trouble and bringing him to safety.

Look back at verses 1 to 3–do they remind you of something else? Do they remind you of another story of deliverance? Verses 1 to 3 of Psalm 40 paint an even greater picture. They illustrate an even greater story of deliverance. It is a story of our deliverance–deliverance from sin and salvation achieved through our Savior, Jesus Christ.

We are sinners, sinking in that pit of destruction–drowning in the miry clay of our own sin. Helpless, hopeless, unable to deliver ourselves. But God inclined and heard our cry. In love He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He “who knew no sin, became sin for us” on the cross.

God’s great arm of deliverance came in the form of sacrifice, dying to save His people. And three days later He rose. Romans 6:4, “Just as Christ has risen from the grave…so have we.” He has set our feet upon the rock, our Cornerstone, making our steps secure. He has put that new song of salvation in our mouths.

We can sing, “How sweet the sound of saving grace, how sweet the sound of saving grace, Christ died for me!” “Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘The Lord be magnified!’” (Psalm 40:16). Amen?

With an even fuller picture than David had, knowing God’s ultimate deliverance package, we know . . . our God is the Deliverer of His people. God shows up to deliver His people. Verse 5, “Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders, which you have done…if I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count.”

No doubt as David reminisces on the Lord’s deliverance, he is reminded of every pit the Lord has pulled him out of. He is reminded of how every time he falls into the miry clay, the Lord is faithful to deliver him out of it.

A good exercise for us, as God’s children, is to look back and remember how the Lord is faithful to deliver, in salvation and in everyday life. Remember how desperate you were in that pit of sin, and that the Lord was gracious to open your eyes to the Gospel truth that saved you. Remember that time of financial hardship, when you had nothing in your pockets or bank account, didn’t know how you were going to make it each month, but the Lord was always faithful to provide.

Remember that trial season in your marriage, when it looked like nothing would fix it, but the Lord in His loving-kindness preserved it. Remember the season of depression, sadness, when life felt hopeless and the future looked dim. The Lord delivered you and brought you to that solid rock foundation of joy and satisfaction in Him.

Look at how each of those trials have grown you and drawn you closer in relationship to Him. Think about all that God has done and you never thanked Him for it or acknowledged that He was the one that delivered you. Many are those works of deliverance! Our God is a faithful deliverer.

B.  He is inclined toward His people

There is an intimacy that David has with His creator. “He inclined and heard my cry. You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us.” In his final declaration, verse 17, he says, “The Lord takes thought for me.”

God isn’t a machine of deliverance. He isn’t a robot of salvation. God is personal. He has a unique relationship with His people. This is an expression of His love and care for us. Often, when I’m away at work during a busy week or on away on a trip, my wife and I will text back and forth. “I love you–I miss you–I’m thinking about you.” It’s assuring/comforting to know that the person you love is thinking about you.

Verse 5, “Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which you have done, and Your thoughts toward us; there is none to compare with you. If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count.” Sit on that for a second. Not only are His works of deliverance too numerous to count, but His thoughts toward you are too numerous to count.

God is not sitting back in His recliner chair, distracted, busy watching TV, waiting for you to cry out for help. Annoyed, He says, “One minute, honey–is it urgent?” Our God sits on the edge of His throne, posture “inclined” leaning over the edge of Heaven, eyes fixed on the cares and concerns of His children–attentive to our cries, anticipating our prayers, actively searching our hearts.

But we think, “Nobody cares about me.” Nobody cares that we are in massive credit card debt. Nobody cares that I’m losing the battle against pornography. Nobody cares that my marriage is falling apart. Nobody cares that I lost my job. Nobody cares that my kid rejects Christ and is living for the world. Nobody cares . . .

There isn’t a more godless lie that you can believe in any trial. When you feel like nobody listens to you, nobody hears you, nobody cares about what you are going through–look to the God of Scripture, your Deliverer who inclines to hear your cry. Look to God whose thoughts are so numerous toward you that you can’t even count them.

Our God loves us more than we know. He cares more than we give Him credit for. What does love look like? “It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like” (St. Augustine). That is what our God looks like. There is so much more that we can learn about God as Deliverer, but let’s turn to look at . . .

What can we learn about ourselves?

A.  We are unable to deliver ourselves

Look at verse 1, “I waited patiently for the Lord.” Literally, in the Hebrew it is, “In waiting, I waited.” English translation: “ I waited, and waited, and waited.” (This is what you say in agony about the DMV.) For what? For whom? For a big break at work? For an opportunity to pull myself out of this mess? For the person who “has their life together” to help me out? No, he waits on the Lord.

David didn’t trust in himself, because he knew that he was unable to deliver himself. Look at verse 6, “Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; my ears you have opened; burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.” David knows even his regular religious duties could not earn God’s favor or deliverance. His love isn’t dependent upon outer works.

Continue on through verses 7 to 8, “Then I said, ‘Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.’” David knows that God’s intention was never for us to work for worship, but His intention is for us to have a heart of worship. His intention is a heart that delights to do His will, where God’s law isn’t fulfilled in outward actions, but where God’s law is fulfilled in the heart.

We know very well, that is God’s work, not our own. We remember Jeremiah 31:33, “’But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people’” (Jeremiah 31:33).

We can turn to Hebrews 10, where this verse in Psalm 40 is quoted, and see that Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient fulfillment of the new covenant. We don’t need to sacrifice bulls and goats anymore, but because of Christ’s perfect sacrifice, the Law is now written on our heart. We have the Holy Spirit living within us, a new heart, and a desire to obey God because of the work He did, not our works.

Because of Christ, it says in verse 19, we can have confidence to enter His throne room with our cares, concerns, and requests. It is important to remember that deliverance and salvation are never earned, but a gift of love and grace given by a faithful Deliverer.

B.  We are blessed to find deliverance in God

Look at the joy and blessing David expresses from finding help in the Lord. “How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust, and has not turned to the proud, not to those who lapse into falsehood.” Blessing comes from trusting God, not the wicked.

How foolish it is to turn to godless psychology for help or deliverance . . . to self-help books written by men who think they know it all . . . to that non-believing co-worker or neighbor who appears as though they have their life together.

Like Shawn preached two weeks ago, we sometimes covet the proud and worldly because it appears as though they have been delivered from our anguish. The reality is that their end is destruction. How foolish it is to turn to them.

But oh the blessing, the happiness of those who put their trust in the Lord! He puts the new song of praise in our mouths. He gives the joy to proclaim glad tidings of righteousness to the congregation (verse 9). He causes us to speak of His faithfulness, to reveal his lovingkindness and truth to others (verse 10).

Notice how David’s happiness and joy goes outward! He can’t help but proclaim, speak, reveal. True joy in salvation never results in silence. Jon talked about this last week out of Psalm 130. Finding forgiveness results in telling others about the mercy God has shown toward us. Finding deliverance results in telling others about the wonders God has done for us in our times of great need.

Why do we always see this so clearly illustrated in the life of a new believer? The new Christian who is so excited to share the Gospel with their co-workers, family, their dog. There is a blessedness, happiness, and joy that they carry and it’s contagious. They can’t help but speak. Why? Because they have recently been delivered.

Remembering deliverance results in proclamation. That’s why it is important for us to look back. We remember the character of God as deliverer and thoughtful toward us. We remember our inability to deliver ourselves and our joy of finding deliverance in the Lord.

2.  Look Up for Deliverance

After David’s look back at past deliverance, he turns upward to His Deliverer and asks for help. We can learn a lot from David’s posture here in verses 11 to 17. Posture is everything, or so says my chiropractor.

David’s posture is clear. His eyes are up-focused on His Deliverer. He doesn’t look elsewhere. Not himself, not others–His Deliverer is His Lord God. He knows His character, reminding himself throughout this section with hand in the air, asking God for help.

When I think about this, I’m reminded of my 11-month-old daughter. She has this posture often. She’s still very small, unstable, and needs a lot of help. What does she do? She runs toward me or mom with hands up–help me, hold me, carry me. I love it, and when she becomes a teenager, I’m going to remind her of it often. Like David, this should be our posture toward our Deliverer–remembering who He is and who we are, then looking up, hands up, asking for help.

A.  Trust God to Deliver

Where does David go first in Verse 11? “You, O Lord…” It is clear that David looks to God alone for help–not others, the world who follows after the lie, not even himself. Read verses 10 to 13a–his hand goes straight up. Where is your trust?

I find in my own life that sometimes I turn to others for help, putting my trust in the things of this world to deliver me. But I find that most times I turn to myself for help. I’m a problem solver. If there is an issue in my life, a financial problem, a ministry problem, a marital problem–my immediate response is to fix it.

Find my own way out, work harder, be better, trust in my own strength to pull me through. This often leaves me more stressed, more anxious, and in more sin. What about you? Where is your trust? Where do you go when work is hard? Where do you go in financial trouble? Where do you go when the unforeseen sickness, injury, circumstance pops up? Where do you go when your enemies rise up around you? Who do you trust–God, others, or yourself?

B.  Ask God to Deliver

This seems like such a simple thing—duh. Is it though? When was the last time that you actually went before the throne room of God in prayer and asked for help? Do you always ask? Or for some requests, just leave it unspoken? Look at David. “Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me; make haste, O Lord, to help me” (Psalm 40:13). His hand is up, asking for God to deliver.

How annoying is it when somebody wants something from you, but they don’t just ask you for it–spouses? They start the conversation by telling you how great you are, how much they love you. At that point you’ve already gotten the clue–what do they want?

They then move to the part of the conversation where they try to indirectly convince you that you might also need the thing that they are asking for. “Honey, have you ever had this slight pressure between your pinky toe and your fourth toe?” “No, I’ve never felt that pressure.” “Well, I get it all the time–I have it right now.” “Oh, bummer.”

Then comes the timid request, which isn’t really a request at all. “Well there is this new essential oil, pulled from chicken’s feet, that if you mix with my Thieves and coconut oil–it instantly cures the pressure between your pinky toe and fourth toe.” Yes, I’m sure it also gives me instant talons.

We always wish that they would just ask! Don’t expect me to guess what you’re thinking or want–just ask. God is leaning down (inclining) toward His people, begging us to ask. We know this is true throughout the rest of Scripture. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14).

You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). “’Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you’” (Matthew 7:7). Oh, but you good theologians say, “Why ask when our Lord knows and tests the mind? He doesn’t want to hear my petty request.”

Wrong–verse 1 of our passage, ”the Lord inclines to [what?] hear.” He does know our heart. He knows what we want, but He wants to hear our request, our cries, our wants. Learn from David and ask the Lord.

C.  Expect God to Deliver

What continues to shock me as I read through the Psalms is the way that the psalmist often talks to God. “Make haste O Lord, to help me [hurry up Lord] . . . let my enemies be ashamed [humiliated, shamed–destroy the haters] . . . do not delay, O my God [respond immediately].” I don’t know about you, but this language makes me a little uncomfortable.

It almost sounds irreverent, too bold, David. I would never ask God to hurry and answer my prayer. How could David talk to God like that? He unashamedly expects God to respond quickly and answer his prayer. But the more I read, the more I thought about what David is saying, the context of the passage, the whole of this Psalm.

I don’t see David coming to the throne room with irreverence. I see Him coming to the throne room with confidence–confidence in the faithfulness and love of his God. There is no shred of doubt in David’s mind that God will not answer his prayer–not because David believes he deserves it, but because he really does believe that God “will not withhold his compassion from him.”

He is confident that God’s “lovingkindness and truth will continually preserve Him.” David actually believes God can and will deliver Him. He expects it because it is in accordance with His character. It’s time for us to stop covering doubt in our prayers. Have you ever tried to convince God that you trust Him in your prayers? I have.

“Lord, I want your will to be done, you are sovereign, you are in control of all things. Would you mind taking this sickness away from my spouse? But if you don’t, Lord, I am going to trust you. I will still be faithful to you. But it would be nice if they weren’t sick anymore. But Lord, your will be done. If it doesn’t happen, I’m cool with it”—and on and on.

Do you really believe in the sovereign power of God over sickness, or are you making excuses for your doubt in thinking that God won’t really pull through for you? Stop doubting the Lord! Do you believe what He has said, time and time again? “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find . . . you don’t have because you don’t ask.”

Don’t doubt the power, compassion, and loving-kindness of the Savior. Expect deliverance! Trust Him, ask Him, expect Him to deliver.

The last verse of the Psalm is perfect–it is there on your outline in the ESV version. Don’t tell Chris, but it’s translated better. “As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!” (Psalm 40:17). The ESV doesn’t even do it justice–it is even more matter of fact.

It is three indicative statements that lead to a final request. “I am poor and needy. The Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer. Do not delay, O my God.” What a perfect summary! If I could encourage you to memorize a verse this week, memorize this one. We need to remind ourselves daily of these three truths.

We are poor and needy. The Lord takes thought for us. He is our Help and Deliverer. Then ask–this is the appropriate posture of a child of God. My heart goes out to those of you in this room who are deep in the pits, stuck in the miry clay—in slavery to sin, in a major trial or heavy circumstance, there is turmoil in your marriage, the workplace or home.

My heart goes out to those of you who are trusting in yourselves for salvation and deliverance. This Scripture stands to tell you that God is our Deliverer. Our Savior God delivers us from sin through the work of Jesus Christ. Our sovereign God delivers us from trouble through His power and strength. He is inclined toward His people. He takes thought for you.

Would you trust Him? Would you ask Him for deliverance? Would you have confidence that He can save you? Blessed and happy is the man who makes the Lord his trust. Let’s pray.


About Morgan Maitland

Morgan served from 2015-2020 as the high school pastor at Faith Bible Church. He is now the teaching pastor at Summit Bible Church in Fontana, CA.

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