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  • Writer's pictureWayne Shelton

Messianic Psalms - Psalm 40: Psalm of the Incarnation



Psalm 40:1-10


One of the best-known Psalms among our contemporaries is Psalm 40. No doubt, this is because for many years the Irish rock band U2 closed out their concerts with a very moving rendition of it, in which huge audiences sang along with the band. As written, Psalm 40 reflects the author’s (David) thanksgiving for deliverance from urgent danger.


In our study of the Messianic psalms, we are reminded first, that the references to the Messiah in the psalms do not follow in sequence or in chronological order. Then we note that we are repeatedly confronted with the difficult problem of determining that which refers to the author and that which refers to Christ. Very often the psalmist, under the Spirit’s power and inspiration, is lifted beyond the limits of his own personality, to present the Person of the Messiah. The difficulty is greatly increased when only a part of the psalm is quoted in the New Testament with reference to our Lord, and the remainder of the psalm would seem to refer to the psalmist himself. This is especially so in Psalm 40.


In this psalm there are three verses which are quoted in Hebrews 10:5-7. In a moving passage, the writer of Hebrews puts the eloquent words of Psalm 40 into the mouth of the Lord Jesus at his incarnation. The verses here record a conversation of great beauty. Jesus is addressing the Father. He is saying that God does not now require the repetitive sacrifices of the old covenant as he [Jesus] is the better sacrifice. God took far greater pleasure in the surrendered life of one eager to do his will. The writer of Hebrews is using Old Testament Scripture as a proof that something far better has taken place by Christ’s sacrifice than could have been accomplished by sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings. There is no doubt that these words of the psalmist found their complete fulfillment in our Lord, and specifically, in his incarnation.


The incarnation is a profound mystery (Matt. 11:27; 1 Tim. 3:16). By that act, Jesus became God manifest in flesh. The Apostle John uses just four words to describe the incarnation: “The Word became flesh.” Luke, on the other hand, goes into detail, using 2,500 words. While assuming sinless humanity, Jesus never for a moment ceased to be God. There can be no gap or hiatus in deity. Instead of subtraction, there was addition. To complete, essential Deity, with all its attributes, was added a Holy, perfect, human body. “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see.”


Join us this coming Lord’s Day as we see more clearly how this psalm speaks of the incarnation of Christ and ultimately of the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross for his people.


This coming Sunday is Father’s Day! We are grateful to the Lord for our fathers. Happy Father’s Day and may the Lord bless you and strengthen you for his glory.


Grace and Peace,

Pastor Wayne

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