Woman praying surrounded by morning light and clouds

Psalm 40:  Transformed by God

 September 25, 2018

As I roamed the ruins beside San Francisco el Grande Church in Antigua, Guatemala, on a sunny morning, I decided to climb a set of stairs. By the time I reached the top of the stairs I was short of breath from the heat and the climb as I stepped into a panorama that took away what remained of my breath. Mountains on three sides and the ruins of the church on the remaining side, and I thought, God, you are too wonderful! Any worries were left behind me in the moment of awe.

Psalm 40

Such are the words of the writer of Psalm 40, a psalm of Thanksgiving. Our God is too wonderful for our comprehension! God transforms our life!

“I waited and waited,” the writer of Psalm 40 begins. He has been experiencing a time of trial and wonders, will it ever end?

We don’t know what was afflicting the writer of this psalm, we only know that his patience was rewarded. God drew him out of a pit and set him on firm ground (2). God put a new song in his mouth (3) and gave him reason to praise him.

Changed by God!

Perhaps it was the restoration to health of one long sick. Perhaps it was the gift of spring after a long winter. Or perhaps it was a change of attitude that allowed the writer to realize how truly blessed he was. Sometimes this is the greatest change of all. We can change our circumstances but if we don’t change our attitude about those circumstances, to what avail is it? We carry with us the baggage of our past.

Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord (4), the writer tells us. His trust isn’t in the things of this world that can rust or fade away, but in the Lord, who is solid and real, whose thoughts and deeds are too wonderful for us to comprehend (5).

Desire to Do God’s Will

The writer goes on to tell us that God doesn’t ask for burnt offerings and sacrifices, he only asks that we do his will, a hard task, and yet to do God’s will is the delight of the writer (8). The writer just has to break forth into praise (9), as I had to break forth into praise before the wonder of God. He speaks of God’s faithfulness and steadfast love (11).

Then Psalm 40 shifts to a cry for help, a lament. While it appears that there are two different psalms that have been joined together, there was a reason for this. Convinced of God’s steadfast love, we may then be put to the test. We never remain too long in any one state but are led through different stages in this journey of life.

Mountain Top Moments

We are reminded of God’s glory when we read about the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain top, found in all three synoptic gospels (Mt. 17:1-8, Lk. 9:28-36, Mk. 9:2-8). We need those mountain top moments. These moments of praise and awe before our God are but a taste of what is to come. We do not remain on the mountain top but we hold onto those moments to help us get through  the valley of tears.

Those mountain top experiences are only of value in that we, too, are transformed from them. If we come back from those experiences still holding on to long held grudges or hatred, then they are for nothing. God was transfigured before the eyes of the disciples. God also transform us.

End by Praising Our God and Waiting for Him

I could not remain amidst the mountains of Antigua forever but thank God for those moments for they sustain us. In the end, let us join with the psalmist in saying, “May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, ‘Great is the Lord!’” (16) Psalm 40 ends as it began, with waiting, “do not tarry, O my God!” (17b)

We spend our life, waiting for our God, but oh, those moments when God is present! Have you had any mountain top moments? How have they changed you? I would love to hear from you.

This post is part of a series of blog posts on the Psalms. Sign up to follow this blog and and receive a free copy of  Still Dancingthe second book in my Dancing through Life Series.      click here to sign up

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