In these verses we have,
I. The great distress and trouble that the psalmist had been in. He had been plunged into a horrible pit and into miry clay (Ps. 40:2), out of which he could not work himself, and in which he found himself sinking yet further. He says nothing here either of the sickness of his body or the insults of his enemies, and therefore we have reason to think it was some inward disquiet and perplexity of spirit that was now his greatest grievance. Despondency of spirit under the sense of Gods withdrawings, and prevailing doubts and fears about the eternal state, are indeed a horrible pit and miry clay, and have been so to many a dear child of God.
II. His humble attendance upon God and his believing expectations from him in those depths: I waited patiently for the Lord, Ps. 40:1. Waiting, I waited. He expected relief from no other than from God; the same hand that tears must heal, that smites must bind up (Hos. 6:1), or it will never be done. From God he expected relief, and he was big with expectation, not doubting but it would come in due time. There is power enough in God to help the weakest, and grace enough in God to help the unworthiest, of all his people that trust in him. But he waited patiently, which intimates that the relief did not come quickly; yet he doubted not but it would come, and resolved to continue believing, and hoping, and praying, till it did come. Those whose expectation is from God may wait with assurance, but must wait with patience. Now this is very applicable to Christ. His agony, both in the garden and on the cross, was the same continued, and it was a horrible pit and miry clay. Then was his soul troubled and exceedingly sorrowful; but then he prayed, Father, glorify thy name; Father, save me; then he kept hold of his relation to his Father, “My God, my God,” and thus waited patiently for him.
III. His comfortable experience of God’s goodness to him in his distress, which he records for the honour of God and his own and others’ encouragement.
1. God answered his prayers: He inclined unto me and heard my cry. Those that wait patiently for God, though they may wait long, do not wait in vain. Our Lord Jesus was heard in that he feared, Heb. 5:7. Nay, he was sure that the Father heard him always.
2. He silenced his fears, and stilled the tumult of his spirits, and gave him a settled peace of conscience (Ps. 40:2): “He brought me up out of that horrible pit of despondency and despair, scattered the clouds, and shone brightly upon my soul, with the assurances of his favour; and not only so, but set my feet upon a rock and established my goings.” Those that have been under the prevalency of a religious melancholy, and by the grace of God have been relieved, may apply this very feelingly to themselves; they are brought up out of a horrible pit. (1.) The mercy is completed by the setting of their feet upon a rock, where they find firm footing, are as much elevated with the hopes of heaven as they were before cast down with the fears of hell. Christ is the rock on which a poor soul may stand fast, and on whose meditation alone between us and God we can build any solid hopes or satisfaction. (2.) It is continued in the establishment of their goings. Where God has given a stedfast hope he expects there should be a steady regular conversation; and, if that be the blessed fruit of it, we have reason to acknowledge, with abundance of thankfulness, the riches and power of his grace.
3. He filled him with joy, as well as peace, in believing: “He has put a new song in my mouth; he has given me cause to rejoice and a heart to rejoice.” He was brought, as it were, into a new world, and that filled his mouth with a new song, even praise to our God; for to his praise and glory must all our songs be sung. Fresh mercies, especially such as we never before received, call for new songs. This is applicable to our Lord Jesus in his reception to paradise, his resurrection from the grave, and his exaltation to the joy and glory set before him; he was brought out of the horrible pit, set upon a rock, and had a new song put into his mouth.
IV. The good improvement that should be made of this instance of God’s goodness to David.
1. David’s experience would be an encouragement to many to hope in God, and, for that end, he leaves it here upon record: Many shall see, and fear, and trust in the Lord. They shall fear the Lord and his justice, which brought David, and the Son of David, into that horrible pit, and shall say, If this be done to the green tree, what shall be done to the dry? They shall fear the Lord and his goodness, in filling the mouth of David, and the Son of David, with new songs of joy and praise. There is a holy reverent fear of God, which is not only consistent with, but the foundation of, our hope in him. They shall not fear him and shun him, but fear him and trust in him in their greatest straits, not doubting but to find him as able and ready to help as David did in his distress. God’s dealings with our Lord Jesus are our great encouragement to trust in God; when it pleased the Lord to bruise him, and put him to grief for our sins, he demanded our debt from him; and when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand, he made it to appear that he had accepted the payment he made and was satisfied with it; and what greater encouragement can we have to fear and worship God and totrust in him?. See Rom. 4:25; 5:1, 2. The psalmist invites others to make God their hope, as he did, by pronouncing those happy that do so (Ps. 40:4): “Blessed is the man that makes the Lord his trust, and him only (that has great and good thoughts of him, and is entirely devoted to him), and respects not the proud, does not do as those do that trust in themselves, nor depends upon those who proudly encourage others to trust in them; for both the one and the other turn aside to lies, as indeed all those do that turn aside from God.” This is applicable, particularly, to our faith in Christ. Blessed are those that trust in him, and in his righteousness alone, and respect not the proud Pharisees, that set up their own righteousness in competition with that, that will not be governed by their dictates, nor turn aside to lies, with the unbelieving Jews, who submit not to the righteousness of God, Rom. 10:3. Blessed are those that escape this temptation.
2. The joyful sense he had of this mercy led him to observe, with thankfulness, the many other favours he had received from God, Ps. 40:5. When God puts new songs into our mouth we must not forget our former songs, but repeat them: “Many, O Lord my God! are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, both for me and others; this is but one of many.” Many are the benefits with which we are daily loaded both by the providence and by the grace of God. (1.) They are his works, not only the gifts of his bounty, but the operations of his power. He works for us, he works in us, and thus he favours us with matter, not only for thanks, but for praise. (2.) They are his wonderful works, the contrivance of them admirable, his condescension to us in bestowing them upon us admirable; eternity itself will be short enough to be spent in the admiration of them. (3.) All his wonderful works are the product of his thoughts to us-ward. He does all according to the counsel of his own will (Eph. 1:11), the purposes of his grace which he purposed in himself, Eph. 3:11. They are the projects of infinite wisdom, the designs of everlasting love (1 Cor. 2:7; Jer. 31:3), thoughts of good and not of evil, Jer. 29:11. His gifts and callings will therefore be without repentance, because they are not sudden resolves, but the result of his thoughts, his many thoughts, to us-ward. (4.) They are innumerable; they cannot be methodized or reckoned up in order. There is an order in all God’s works, but there are so many that present themselves to our view at once that we know not where to begin nor which to name next; the order of them, and their natural references and dependencies, and how the links of the golden chain are joined, are a mystery to us, and what we shall not be able to account for till the veil be rent and the mystery of God finished. Nor can they be counted, not the very heads of them. When we have said the most we can of the wonders of divine love to us we must conclude with an et caetera—and such like, and adore the depth, despairing to find the bottom.