Psalm 40 = The “Mud” Psalm
Bible Background: Psalm 40 starts out more as a testimony than a prayer, as in: “I waited patiently for the Lord” and he helped me! The writer wants what God desires for him/her. And, this person who feels like God has answered past prayers is determined to share that truth with others. The second part of the psalm is vastly different, more of a lament than words of trust. An interesting detail is that verses 13-17 are identical to the words of Psalm 70.
Digging Deeper: 1. This psalm starts out with gratitude and trust. How do we respond when God does answer our prayers? Do we bother to tell anyone else? What are some natural words we could use to describe to others what God has done for us-and what God might be able to do for them?
2. Someone nicknamed this “the Mud Psalm” because the pray-er felt really stuck in the mud, and felt that God had rescued him from the mire. Can you remember a time when you felt stuck? And a time when you felt God pulled you up out of the mud?
3. v.4 echoes Psalm 1 about “How happy/blessed are those who trust in the Lord”. Then you can see how the writer is open to God’s will, and interested in what God desires. When was a time you prayed for God to do your will? When was a time you were praying to know and do God’s will?
4. After some testimony of how great God is and how much he desires to do God’s will, this psalm of trust takes a turn towards lament. It sounds like the writer has new problems; many problems; and is calling on God again. Sometimes we say, “it’s just one thing after another”. The psalm-writer has experienced God’s saving help in the past and knows he needs it now just as much.
5. In v.14-15 you can hear the writer asking God to ‘fix’ his enemies. (This is a fairly common thing in a psalm of lament.) It often sounds harsh, but maybe allows the pray-er to get this anger off of their chest, and is trusting that God will settle any score or dish out any revenge. Who is someone who has wronged you? Can you turn over that pain and anger to God, and allow God to deal with that person?
6. While the psalm that started out so hopefully ends more painfully, the writer still trusts that the Lord is his “help and deliverer” and will not delay. What would it take to have that kind of relationship with God-that even when we’re feeling oppressed, would allow us to still trust wholeheartedly in God?