1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.
5 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.
6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come it is written about me in the scroll.
8 I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”
9 I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, as you know, O LORD.
10 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.
11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD; may your love and your truth always protect me.
12 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.
13 Be pleased, O LORD, to save me; O LORD, come quickly to help me.
14 May all who seek to take my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace.
15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!” be appalled at their own shame.
16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, “The LORD be exalted!”
17 Yet I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay.
This is one of my favorite psalms with verse six being the key verse that I use to understand this psalm. The writer of Hebrews in chapter 10 verses 5-7 reference this psalm as verses that portrays the earthly ministry of Christ. Hebrews 10:5-7 “Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll I have come to do your will, O God.'” Another section to consider is Deuteronomy 15:6,7 “But if your servant says to you, ‘I do not want to leave you,’ because he loves you and your family and is well off with you, then take an awl and push it through his ear lobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life.” which is the piercing that I believe that verse six reference. Deuteronomy fifteen is God’s instruction to Israel on how they should handle the canceling of debts. Verse one states “At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts” so Israel was to forgive debts every seven years. With this verse in mind look at the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:12 “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” here we are instructed to forgive others. Debt gives us power, it gives us control over someone, however by releasing the debt we no longer hold the debtor responsible for the debt. Yet so often we go through the process of forgiving, but do not really release our debtors. We have a way of reminding them that they do not have to repay the debt but that they are still in debt to us; since we did forgive the debt that they owed us. In the same way a lot of believer put God in this category of forgiving debt, but we still owe God. However, in Deuteronomy 15 this is not the true picture of debt forgiveness. Debts are forgiven completely just as our sins are remember no more.
Now for the true meaning of verse six of this psalm. Paul states it best in Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Yes, Christ paid the debt for us, yet because of our love for him and knowing that we cannot make it on our own in this world we turn our life back over to God. We make God our master and not self.
As you read this psalm take time to read Philippians 2:5-11 were Paul states that we should have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had in our relationship to others. Christ was Lord, yet he humbles himself and died as a criminal on the cross. The human nature struggle with the issues of pride and humility daily. To aid us in this struggle Paul gives us this advice: don’t be selfish, do not try to impress others, think others as better than yourself, do not look to your own interest but take an interest in others. Do these and the battles against the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life can be won. As I have just finished my course in Leadership, I have realized there are two types of leaders: the leaders that seek their power, and the leaders that are appointed because their services are needed. Moses is a great example of both leaders. At age forty he decided that it was his time to stand up for the rights of the children of Israel. However, his actions were not received by others and he had to flee for his life. At this time, he suffer humiliation from those he tried to help. In this humiliation he lost respect from his people and the Egyptians as well. In this humiliation he became a shepherd and stepped out of the picture. It was in this humiliation that God spoke to him. Moses returned forty years later not in humiliation, but as a humble servant with no agenda of his own. From Stephen’s sermon in Act chapter seven we see Moses life divided in three parts: God preparing him with knowledge and training that he would needed in the future, God humbling the character of Moses to prepare him for service, and the last forty years combining the two to perform the task that God had planned 430 years earlier (Exodus 12:41). Highlight Philippians 2:1-11 in your Bible and realized it is only as a humble servant can we truly serve God.
Probably one of the best books that has help me gain a better understanding of my walk with Christ on this earth has been the collection of writings of Oswald Chambers. His reading from My Upmost for His Highest for September 22nd helps illustrates the Master and Servant relationship that is illustrated in this psalm. He sums up his daily reading with this summary “If we are consciously aware that we are being mastered, that idea itself is proof that we have no master. If that is our attitude toward Jesus, we are far away from having the relationship He wants with us. He wants us in a relationship where He is so easily our Master and Teacher that we have no conscious awareness of it—a relationship where all we know is that we are His to obey.” After my many years of being involved in the work of the church and then years of just attending services I have realized that the task of making Christ the Lord of my life comes about with many hardships. The short poem of “Footprints in the Sand“ also illustrates the principle of a relationship where He is so easily our Master and Teacher that we have no conscious awareness of it coming out of times of difficulties where we thought God had abandon us to look back and realized that it was really Him that had carry us through the crisis. As you study the psalms you must do so with a complete understanding of David’s life as well as the faith heroes before him. As we study David’s life, we realize that before God can use us we must face a wilderness journey in which we become totally dependent upon God to get us out. Once this happens then our relationship with Christ changes and is so easy to make him our Master and Teacher. We arrive at this place in our walk and really do not have any conscious awareness of when this relationship began to take place.
Oswald Chambers reading The Surrendered Life for March 8 ties in beautifully with this Psalm. His opening sentence “To become one with Jesus Christ, a person must be willing not only to give up sin, but also to surrender his whole way of looking at things.” helps bring the true relationship of this Psalm to the individual believer. The Psalm starts out by waiting patiently for the Lord. This implies waiting for his timing in the daily events of my life. However, it does not imply that I be just like a piece of driftwood floating in the sea of life, but rather I see the opportunities that are before me and present them to the Lord. He hears me and puts me in the right position to either take fully advantage of them or to abandon them. This maturity of decision-making only comes from years of walking with the Lord and trusting him completely. Surrendering completely to God’s way of looking requires the practice of daily commune with the Lord in the light of his Word.