This introduction serves as an invitation to join in an on-going journey of discovery. You will not need to buy tickets nor make travel plans. All that's required is your Bible and a quiet place to read and meditate. Together we'll explore the Book of Psalms, Israel’s hymnal and longest collection of poetry.  

Psalm 40:1-8

Body Piercing

(H) For the director of the choir, a psalm of David. (1) I waited patiently for Yahweh. He inclined to me and heard my cry for help. (2) He brought me up from a pit of destruction, from mud and mire, and set my feet upon a rock and established my steps. (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 Yahweh. (4) Blessed (is) the man who makes Yahweh his trust, who does not turn to the proud, (to those who) fall away into falsehood. (5) Many (are) the wonderful things you have done, Yahweh, my God, and your thoughts toward us. None can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they are more than could be recounted. (6) In sacrifice and offering you did not take delight. My ears you have pierced. For a whole burnt offering or a sin offering you have not asked. (7) Then I said, “Behold, I come. In the scroll of the book it is written about me. (8) I delight to do your will, O my God. Your law is within my heart.”

Two important word repetitions mark this segment: “trust” (vss. 3 & 4) and “delight” (vss. 6 & 8). David’s trust is what prompted Yahweh to deliver him from dire circumstances (vss. 1-3). When we fully trust in Yahweh, he delights to pour out his blessings into our lives (vss. 4 & 5).

The next paragraph (vss. 6-8) may not seem to fit with the opening theme of trust until we realize that David’s purpose in these verses is to provide us with a vivid example of one who makes Yahweh his trust. Most conservative interpreters believe that David was speaking prophetically in these verses of the coming Messiah. God’s anointed one would not offer animal sacrifices (“In sacrifice and offering you did not take delight”) but rather would offer himself, first to live completely and perfectly according to the will of God, and then to die as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, fulfilling God’s will for his life.

Translators have long struggled to understand the phrase, “My ears you have pierced” (vs. 6). These words make more sense when viewed in light of Exodus 21:5 & 6 which states that a slave who loves his master and wants to remain permanently in his household can choose to have his ear pierced by an awl as a public testimony of his commitment. Thus, “my ears you have pierced” becomes another way of saying, “I delight to do your will” (vs. 8).

I.  Testimony: Yahweh delivered me.  (1-3)
II.  Declaration: blessed are those who trust in Yahweh.  (4 & 5)
III.  Example: I delight to do God’s will.  (6-8)

Those trusting in Yahweh experience his deliverance, his blessing, and the delight of doing his will.

Body piercings and tattoos have become quite popular in today’s world. Many parents find themselves deeply troubled when they learn that a son or daughter has undergone some kind of piercing or is sporting a new tattoo. The Old Testament specified that God’s covenant people were not to be tattooed like the pagan nations around them (Lev. 19:28). However, when it came to body piercings, one in particular received approval for a limited group. According to Exodus 21:5 & 6, slaves who wished to remain in the service of a beloved master could opt to have an ear lobe pierced by an awl. The resulting scar would serve as a sign of their devotion and submission for the rest of their lives.

In Psalm 22:16 we read of one who said, “They pierced my hands and my feet.” For eternity Jesus Christ is marked by scars from the nails which fastened him to the cross because he willingly became our sacrifice. He was pierced so that we would never have to be put to death for our sins. He paid the price that we could never pay. He came to do the Father’s will and to finish his work. Because he willingly laid down his life for us, we owe him everything, our allegiance, our love, and our obedience. In a spiritual sense we should be the ones to say, “Master, I commit myself to you as a slave would willingly commit himself or herself to a loving master according to Exodus 21. I want to serve you for the rest of my life.” 

The last verse of Isaac Watts’ beloved hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, beautifully captures this thought: “Were the whole realm of nature mine, / that were a present far too small; / love so amazing, so divine, / demands my soul, my life, my all.”

Psalm 40:9-17

Psalm 39:7-13