Expressing Your Delight In The Lord
If we were to study all of Psalm 40 this morning, what you would see is that this psalm has 2 distinct parts. The first ten verses is King David's enthusiastic response to God's goodness. The last seven verses, by contrast, are a mixture of prayer and lament.
For our purposes this morning, we will look at the first ten verses, and what we will find is a summary of how the Christian life is to be lived.
Last Sunday, in Psalm 37, we examined the command to "delight in the Lord"(37:4) and we were reminded of the need to delight in God above all things. Yet, I realize that what we have left to examine is precisely how we are to express our delight in the Lord.
It is one thing for us to hear the commands, "delight yourself in the Lord"(Ps. 37:4), "rejoice in the Lord always"(Phil. 4:4), and it is quite another thing to actually do this. How do we delight ourselves in the Lord? Practically speaking, how do we rejoice in the Lord always?
In the first ten verses of Psalm 40, I have found three excellent ways to express our delight in the Lord. But before we get to these expressions of our delight, we are reminded in verse one and two why the Lord is worthy of our delight in the first place. David writes, "I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure."(v.1,2).
We delight in the Lord because He has inclined Himself to us. The Lord inclined Himself to us at a time when we were in the desolate pit and in the miry clay. We were in the desolate pit of sin, and the Lord drew us out. Not only did the Lord draw us out of the pit of sin, but He also set us upon solid ground. The Lord secured our steps in order that we might never fall into the pit again.
Putting these metaphors aside for the moment, we recognize that we are talking about our salvation. We delight in the Lord above all else because He has forgiven our sins and because He has given us eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ.
The Lord has saved us. The Lord is our delight. But how are we to express our delight in Him? As I have said, Psalm 40 gives us three excellent ways to express our delight in the Lord, the first of which is praise.
David writes in verse 3, "He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God". True delight will always express itself in praise. David was delivered out of the miry clay and his response was to sing to God a song of praise.
It is natural for human beings to praise the things they delight in. We praise our children, we praise our favourite sports team, we praise a good meal, we praise favourable weather--human beings naturally praise the things that bring us delight.
We would think it cruel if a parent did not compliment or praise their child. We would think it strange if we attended a sporting event where no one cheered or clapped. Even stranger then, is a Christian who finds it difficult to praise the Lord. The Lord never fails a test. He does everything perfectly. For this reason, singing songs of praise to the Lord should be the natural inclination of every Christian.
The second way we are to express our delight in the Lord is obedience. This is clearly seen in verses 6 through 8, "Sacrifice and offering You do not desire, but You have given me open ears. Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. Then I said, "Here I am: 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".
You should be made aware that many capable scholars regard the profession of verses 6 through 8 as belonging to Christ. Even if this is the case, our need to apply these verses does not change. As Charles Spurgeon has said, "(Even though) this profession emphatically belongs to our Savior we need not suppose that it exclusively belongs to Him . . . (Since) Christ is our forerunner and our example, we are encouraged to emulate the high calling and the dutiful obedience He so perfectly exhibited."
David wants us to know that mere ceremonies are not enough. Mere external rituals do not honour the Lord. By saying that the Lord does not desire "sacrifice and offering", David is not saying that the ceremonies of Judaism are to be done away with. David is only saying that the ceremonies are not the point.
What matters most is that our obedience to God is always done as an expression of our delight in Him. This is precisely why David says; "I delight to do Your will, O my God". As we learned last week, in Psalm 37, the fuel for our obedience must never be reduced to duty. Because Christianity involves a relationship with Christ, our affection for Him must fuel our obedience. Jesus makes this connection between affection and obedience many times in the New Testament, but perhaps no more explicitly than in John 14:23 when He says, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word".
True delight in the Lord then, will always express itself in obedience to Him. True delight in the Lord will always express itself in praise. And the third way we are to express our delight in the Lord is by sharing our faith--what is commonly referred to as evangelism.
Like the other expressions of delight, the notion that we should be sharing our faith with others is clearly stated for us in the text. In verses 9 and 10, David writes, "I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as You know, O Lord. I have not hidden Your saving help within my heart; I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness from the great congregation".
Here we have it confirmed for us that one's faith is not a private matter. Our relationship with Christ is not something that is to be concealed. Never mind the fact that our politically correct society discourages the propagation of one's beliefs. The Holy Scriptures of God clearly reveals to us the appropriateness of telling others about the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.
Some may argue that our actions speak louder than words in this endeavour, and I concur. But this is why we praise. This is why we obey--so that others may witness how we live. But as you can clearly see in verses 9 and 10, the type of evangelism David has in mind here is evangelism by word. David writes, "I have told", "I have spoken", "I have not restrained my lips". Clearly we have a responsibility to share our faith both by word and deed.
Even still, some of you may be sitting there unconvinced of the need to share your faith. Allow me to offer an illustration that demonstrates the cruelty of making one's religion a private matter. Consider what it would be like to be a beggar living among a multitude of beggars, always in need of food and in constant danger of dying from starvation.
Now imagine one day, as a beggar, you meet a man on the street who is giving away free sandwiches and other food items. After obtaining food for yourself, you begin to suspect that your homeless friends may not be aware that there is an answer to their starvation. Would it not be cruel to obtain food for yourself without any regard to the hunger of your friends? Would it not be cruel to conceal this discovery while your friends perish from lack of food? Of course, it would cruel!
In the same manner, if we have discovered the source of eternal life and we conceal it from others, this must be regarded as the height of cruelty. This is why David refuses to restrain his lips. This is why the apostle Paul commands Timothy to "preach the word . . . in season and out of season"(2Tim.4:2).
And for those of you who are waiting for the perfect opportunity to share your faith, think for a moment about what it means to "preach the word . . . in season and out of season". As far as I can logically tell, one can only be in season or out of season. There are no other possible options here. Paul is telling us to be ready to preach at any given moment.
How do we do this? How do we preach the word, how do we share our faith? Sharing your faith does not require knocking on doors or handing out tracts. Sharing your faith, in its most simple form, is expressing your delight in God publicly.
Psalm 37 reminded us of the need to delight in God above all things. This morning, Psalm 40 has told us how to express our delight in the Lord. We express our delight in the Lord by praising Him, we express our delight in the Lord by obeying Him, and we express our delight in the Lord by telling others about His steadfast love.
If this sounds onerous to you, I want to remind you that we are not expected to manufacture praise, obedience, and evangelism. These things should flow naturally from us as we make Christ our supreme delight. As Jesus taught in the gospel of Matthew, "The good person brings forth good things out of a good treasure"(Mt.12:35).
If our treasure is Jesus Christ, if our delight is Jesus Christ, praise, obedience, and evangelism will be the inevitable fruits.
I want to conclude this morning the same way the great Charles Spurgeon concluded his sermon on Psalm 40 one hundred and thirty years ago, "God bless you, dear friends, and (God) make you earnest to tell to others those things He has made known unto you, for our Lord Jesus Christ's sake. Amen."