Rev. Dr. Carl Anderson on Psalm 40 and U2 live at Red Rocks.
“How long, oh Lord?!?” If this cry doesn’t ring true these days, I do not know what does. I feel my desperation rising daily for a time that my life can return to what I imagined was normal. Even so, not everyone one has the luxury to return to the way things were; life’s landscape has been forever altered. We have permission to honestly present ourselves before the Lord, especially the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Psalm 40 fuels my hope. The cries of the psalmist resonates deep within me. Their words are my words. I understand the deep anguish of needing God to come near. I find myself praying, “Please, Eternal One, don’t hold back Your kind ways from me. I need Your strong love and truth to stand watch over me and keep me from harm. Right now I can’t see because I am surrounded by troubles; O Eternal One, please rescue me. O Eternal One, hurry; I need Your help."
May your soul find peace knowing we serve a God who comes close. God promises to rescue and restore. No matter the depths of despair or the emptiness we experience, God lifts us from the mire and pours out God’s grace and mercy. And until that day comes in full, we plea, “How long!?!”
Psalm 40 (The VOICE translation) 1 I waited a long time for the Eternal; He finally knelt down to hear me. He listened to my weak and whispered cry.
2 He reached down and drew me from the deep, dark hole where I was stranded, mired in the muck and clay. With a gentle hand, He pulled me out To set me down safely on a warm rock; He held me until I was steady enough to continue the journey again.
3 As if that were not enough, because of Him my mind is clearing up. Now I have a new song to sing— a song of praise to the One who saved me. Because of what He’s done, many people will see and come to trust in the Eternal.
4 Surely those who trust the Eternal— who don’t trust in proud, powerful people Or in people who care little for reality, chasing false gods— surely they are happy, as I have become.
5 You have done so many wonderful things, had so many tender thoughts toward us, Eternal my God, that go on and on, ever increasing. Who can compare with You?
6 Sacrifices and offerings are not what You want, but You’ve opened my ears,[a] and now I understand. Burnt offerings and sin offerings are not what please You.
7 So I said, “See, I have come to do Your will, as it is inscribed of me in the scroll.
8 I am pleased to live how You want, my God. Your law is etched into my heart and my soul.”
9 I have encouraged Your people with the message of righteousness, in Your great assembly (look and see), I haven’t kept quiet about these things; You know this, Eternal One.
10 I have not kept Your righteousness to myself, sealed up in the secret places of my heart; instead, I boldly tell others how You save and how loyal You are. I haven’t been shy to talk about Your love, nor have I been afraid to tell Your truth before the great assembly of Your people.
11 Please, Eternal One, don’t hold back Your kind ways from me. I need Your strong love and truth to stand watch over me and keep me from harm.
12 Right now I can’t see because I am surrounded by troubles; my sins and shortcomings have caught up to me, so I am swimming in darkness. Like the hairs on my head, there are too many to count, so my heart deserts me.
13 O Eternal One, please rescue me. O Eternal One, hurry; I need Your help.
14 May those who are trying to destroy me be humiliated and ashamed instead; May those who want to ruin my reputation be cut off and embarrassed.
15 May those who try to catch me off guard, those who look at me and say, “Aha, we’ve trapped you,” be caught in their own shame instead.
16 But may all who look for You discover true joy and happiness in You; May those who cherish how You save them always say, “O Eternal One, You are great and are first in our hearts.”
17 Meanwhile, I am empty and need so much, but I know the Lord is thinking of me. You are my help; only You can save me, my True God. Please hurry.
Art: "Psalm 40: Out of the Mud" by Melani Pyke. www.melpyke.com