Religion is viewed by many to be restrictive. It certainly can be. "Religion is just a bunch of do's and don'ts," people will say.
But God desires something beyond an attempt to keep a list of rights and wrongs.
For the choir director: A psalm of David.
I waited patiently for the lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the lord.
Oh, the joys of those who trust the lord, who have no confidence in the proud or in those who worship idols.
O lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them. [vss 1-5]
You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings. Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand— you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.
Then I said, “Look, I have come. As is written about me in the Scriptures: I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.”
I have told all your people about your justice. I have not been afraid to speak out, as you, O lord, well know.
I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart; I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power. I have told everyone in the great assembly of your unfailing love and faithfulness. [vss 6-10]
Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me. Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me.
For troubles surround me—too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage.
Please, lord, rescue me! Come quickly, lord, and help me.
May those who try to destroy me be humiliated and put to shame. May those who take delight in my trouble be turned back in disgrace. Let them be horrified by their shame, for they said, “Aha! We’ve got him now!”
But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “The lord is great!”
As for me, since I am poor and needy, let the Lord keep me in his thoughts. You are my helper and my savior. O my God, do not delay. [vss 11-17]
(Psalm 40:1-17 NLT) [Context– Psalm 40]
Key phrase— Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord
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Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions
How does this psalm begin? What does the psalmist (David) rejoice about? What does he say about the Lord?
What does the Lord not take delight in or require? What does bring joy and why is this what God desires?
What specific things has David told people about the Lord?
What are David's two requests and why does he make them? What blessing is given near the ending?
This psalm has many different literary elements (see Psalms Study Guide). It begins with a testimony of God's rescue and declarations of God's greatness. It ends with requests for God's help and a blessing.
In the middle is a declaration by David that is prophetic. He speaks to the heart of what God desires, but in the voice of Jesus the Messiah, as noted in Hebrews 10:5-7 (also see Luke 24:44).
God isn't interested in sacrifices and offerings, though required by the Law of Moses, He desires trust and obedience from the heart.
Jesus came as the ultimate atoning sacrifice for humanity's rebellion towards God. His coming was foretold centuries before He came, but the nation of Israel did not accept it.
He will come a second time and those who've experienced His mercy and faithfulness are to proclaim the freedom found in Jesus to others until He returns.
Make it personal...
Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions
Do you feel burdened and restricted by things you should or shouldn't do? If so, why?
Have you experienced the freedom of God's mercy and grace in your life?
If so, in what specific ways have you experienced the Lord's mercy and faithfulness in your life?
Has the Lord put a "new song" in your heart? Do you share what God's done in your life with others?
Would you like a free study guide for your study of Psalms?