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Psalm chapter 40

New International Version

1 For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. 2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him. 4 Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.
5 Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare. 6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire-- but my ears you have opened -- burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. 7 Then I said, 'Here I am, I have come-- it is written about me in the scroll.
8 I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.' 9 I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, LORD, as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly. 11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, LORD; may your love and faithfulness always protect me. 12 For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased to save me, LORD; come quickly, LORD, to help me. 14 May all who want to take my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace. 15 May those who say to me, 'Aha! Aha!' be appalled at their own shame.
16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, 'The LORD is great!' 17 But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay.
English Standard Version

1 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. 2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. 4 Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! 5 You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told. 6 In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. 7 Then I said, “Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: 8 I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” 9 I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD. 10 I have not hidden your deliverance 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. 11 As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! 12 For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me. 13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me! 14 Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether who seek to snatch away my life; let those be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt! 15 Let those be appalled because of their shame who say to me, “Aha, Aha!” 16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the LORD!” 17 As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!
King James Version

1 {To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.} I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. 2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. 3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. 4 Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. 5 Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.
6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, 8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. 9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest. 10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.
11 Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me. 12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me. 13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me. 14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil. 15 Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha. 16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified. 17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.
New American Standard Bible

1 I waited patiently for the LORD; And He reached down to me and heard my cry. 2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud; And He set my feet on a rock, making my footsteps firm. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the LORD. 4 How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who become involved in falsehood. 5 Many, LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is no one to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count. 6 You have not desired sacrifice and meal offering; You have opened my ears; You have not required burnt offering and sin offering. 7 Then I said, 'Behold, I have come; It is written of me in the scroll of the book. 8 I delight to do Your will, my God; Your Law is within my heart.' 9 I have proclaimed good news of righteousness in the great congregation; Behold, I will not restrain my lips, LORD, You know. 10 I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your mercy and Your truth from the great congregation. 11 You, LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your mercy and Your truth will continually watch over me. 12 For evils beyond number have surrounded me; My guilty deeds have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see; They are more numerous than the hairs of my head, And my heart has failed me. 13 Be pleased, LORD, to rescue me; Hurry, LORD, to help me. 14 May those be ashamed and humiliated together Who seek my life to destroy it; May those be turned back and dishonored Who delight in my hurt. 15 May those be appalled because of their shame Who say to me, 'Aha, aha!' 16 May all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; May those who love Your salvation continually say, 'The LORD be exalted!' 17 But I am afflicted and needy; May the Lord be mindful of me. You are my help and my savior; Do not delay, my God.
New Living Translation

1 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. 2 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. 3 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.
4 Oh, the joys of those who trust the LORD, who have no confidence in the proud or in those who worship idols. 5 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.
6 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. 7 Then I said, 'Look, I have come. As is written about me in the Scriptures: 8 I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.'
9 I have told all your people about your justice. I have not been afraid to speak out, as you, O LORD, well know. 10 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.
11 LORD, don't hold back your tender mercies from me. Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me. 12 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.
13 Please, LORD, rescue me! Come quickly, LORD, and help me. 14 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. 15 Let them be horrified by their shame, for they said, 'Aha! We've got him now!'
16 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!' 17 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.
Christian Standard Bible

1 I waited patiently for the LORD, and he turned to me and heard my cry for help. 2 He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and they will trust in the LORD. 4 How happy is anyone who has put his trust in the LORD and has not turned to the proud or to those who run after lies!
5 LORD my God, you have done many things--your wondrous works and your plans for us; none can compare with you. If I were to report and speak of them, they are more than can be told. 6 You do not delight in sacrifice and offering; you open my ears to listen. You do not ask for a whole burnt offering or a sin offering. 7 Then I said, "See, I have come; in the scroll it is written about me.
8 I delight to do your will, my God, and your instruction is deep within me." 9 I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; see, I do not keep my mouth closed--as you know, LORD.
10 I did not hide your righteousness in my heart; I spoke about your faithfulness and salvation; I did not conceal your constant love and truth from the great assembly. 11 LORD, you do not withhold your compassion from me. Your constant love and truth will always guard me. 12 For troubles without number have surrounded me; my iniquities have overtaken me; I am unable to see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my courage leaves me.
13 LORD, be pleased to rescue me; hurry to help me, LORD. 14 Let those who intend to take my life be disgraced and confounded. Let those who wish me harm be turned back and humiliated.
15 Let those who say to me, "Aha, aha!" be appalled because of their shame. 16 Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; let those who love your salvation continually say, "The LORD is great!" 17 I am oppressed and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my helper and my deliverer; my God, do not delay.

What does Psalm chapter 40 mean?

David experienced danger many times in his life, often as threats from men who marked him out, specifically, for death. In those moments, he prayed to God and was rescued. In some moments, the danger seemed so dire that David saw no way out—like a person trapped in a deep, slimy hole with no escape. Poetically, David describes God saving him from that fate, resulting both in praise and an example from which others can learn (Psalm 40:1–3).

Old Testament books such as Psalms and Proverbs often extol the value of godly wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; Psalm 19:7–10). David echoes those themes here, warning against arrogance and lies. He also praises God for the many examples of mercy shown to His people, more than any one person could tell (Psalm 40:4–5).

Psalm 40:6–7 is cited in the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 10:5–9). In that text, the passage is used to explain how God's ultimate plan for humanity involved the obedient use of a specially prepared body: that of Jesus Christ. Hebrews quotes the Septuagint Greek translation, resulting in slightly different phrasing than the Old Testament Hebrew. David notes that God's primary desire is for obedience, and that the Lord had specifically created him with an ability to hear and obey. In response, David plans to honor God's will as explained in the written Word of God (Psalm 40:6–8).

Many of the psalms were written by David—he was not at all afraid to share his praise for God (Psalm 40:9–10).

After celebrating what God had done, David then turns to what God will do. In part, that includes forgiving David of his sins. Despite all his success, David was not ignorant to his own need for mercy. This prayer also asks God to continue to save him from his enemies. The phrasing here asks that those who mockingly hate David will be devastated by their own shame. Maintaining the attitude of humility, David praises God in advance for His response and celebrates the joy which should come naturally to all believers (Psalm 40:11–17).