Psalm 40: Stuck in the Mud? Get the Help You Need in Jesus

Psalm 40: Stuck in the Mud? Get the Help You Need in Jesus

Have you ever been stuck in the mud? I have. As a teenager, there was a pond near our house. I used to go and look for wildlife. One day, after a rain, I had my rubber boots on and I stepped too far into the mud and I was stuck. It just sucked my feet in. If I tried to pull my foot out, the boot would stay in the mud. Obviously, it was a battle I could not win. That said, Psalm 40 is one of my favorite psalms as it describes how Jesus saved me, as an adult, from being stuck in the mud of my sins. Let’s dig in…

Psalm 40

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.

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.
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.

Psalm 40 NLT

Stuck in the Mud?

My teen mud adventure ended up with my having to take my boots off and mess up my shoes. Later, during my prodigal years, I was working on cruise ship as assistant manager of the onboard boutique. Traveling was fun except that the shop manager was an Italian guy who knew nothing about retailing and merchandising. Subsequently, we argued all the time. I was stuck in a contract — I couldn’t just quit.

One day, I was walking the promenade deck and the chapel door which was in the aft (back), was swinging open with the movement of the ship. It was like God was beckoning me in. Interestingly, I found a card which had the Act of Contrition — one of the few prayers I memorized as a Catholic kid. I prayed and asked God to help me.

A few weeks later, when we docked in Miami, I found out that the Italian guy got transferred back to Italy and I got a new manager! Moreover, she ended up being not just my roommate, but my new best friend. At the time, I didn’t really see the hand of God in the whole thing. Looking back, I know He answered my prayer and pulled me out of the muck and mire.

Consequently, I still managed to keep myself stuck in the mud of sin. My sin kept sucking me into different black holes. God kept helping me. He chased me. Meanwhile, I kept running away. It took some time, but I’m so glad He, persistent as He is, saved me from myself. By the way, my testimony is at the bottom.

How to Get Unstuck

At any rate, because we are human and prone to make mistakes, we can easily get stuck. Yet, Jesus loves us so much that He spares us so He can save us!

Again, let’s turn to the folks at Spoken Gospel

Through his sufferings and discipline, David has learned that offering empty sacrifices is never what God wants (Psalm 40:6). God wants “pierced” or open ears with hearts that are attentive and love to do what God desires (Psalm 40:8). Perhaps David is being disciplined for the sin of hypocrisy. Regardless, David now praises God for his justice in disciplining—and for his love in saving him (Psalm 40:10). In Psalm 39 David was silent because of his sin (Psalm 39:1), but now he’s loud with praise (Psalm 40:9).

Knowing all this, David asks for mercy again (Psalm 40:11). He asks God to deliver him from the enemies that God sent as a punishment for his sin (Psalm 40:14). And he also asks God to save everyone who seeks and waits for God and his salvation (Psalm 40:16) 

Where is the Gospel?

The prophet Isaiah warned that if Israel turned to other nations and other gods, they would be exiled (Isaiah 31:1). In this psalm, David offers the same warning as a promise (Psalm 40:4). Anyone who does not look to proud rulers or turn to false gods will be blessed. Their enemies will be shamed (Psalm 40:14). But Israel didn’t listen to David or Isaiah. And like David, Israel fell into hypocritical patterns of worship (Isaiah 1:13). 

Isaiah hoped for a day when a new King from David’s line would reign in Israel—and the closed eyes, ears, and hearts of her people would finally be pierced and opened (Isaiah 32:3-4). 

That King is Jesus, who fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah and David. Even when we are blind and deaf, trusting ourselves more than God, Jesus opens our eyes and ears to love God and love his law (Psalm 40:6a, 8). That’s why Jesus heals a deaf man in the Gospel of Mark (Mark 7:37) and ends many of his parables with the phrase, “Whoever has ears, let them hear” (Matthew 13:9).

It’s Jesus’ way of revealing we need his help to see and hear. Closed ears are the consequence of our failure to trust God. Closed eyes are punishment for religious hypocrisy and blatant sin. But Jesus comes to open our ears, open our eyes, transform our hearts, and bless those who trust him (Matthew 13:16). 

When we turn away from trusting ourselves, others, or idols, the Apostle Paul says that the eyes of our heart will be opened (Ephesians 1:18). We will see our hope and God’s power to save when we’re surrounded by enemies or stuck in a muddy pit of our sin (Ephesians 1:19). And like the blind man, our eyes will be opened to the truth that God sees us (you and me) as an inheritance (as a treasure) worth dying to receive (Ephesians 1:18). 

Spoken Gospel

How to Pray Psalm 40 and get Un-Stuck

I’m doing this one differently today. Instead of writing out a prayer in my own words, I’m going to give you a few questions to ask yourself to help you pray it in YOUR own words…

  • If you’re stuck in a pit of despair, ask Jesus to help you out of it. First, understand that you have to wait patiently for Him to act. Secondly, don’t be surprised if when He lifts you out of your mud and mire, and sets your feet on solid ground, that it’s not what you expected.
  • Look at your life and see what God has done to protect you, and put your trust in Him and Him only! Above all, don’t put your trust in the proud or anyone who worships idols!
  • Count your blessings. What’s more, thank Him for all you have.
  • Jesus doesn’t require rites and rituals. Ask Him to show you His will for YOUR life.
  • How are you helping to tell everyone of His unfailing love? God provides you with the gifts and talents you need to do His will. Ask Him to show you how.
  • Do you have troubles? Too many to count? Have your sins piled up so high that you can’t see your way out? The Good News is that Jesus died taking your sins away forever! The sins of you past — no matter how bad — AND sins of the future. Obviously, you’re not perfect — though you can ask Him to help you become Christlike.
  • Are you poor and needy, ask Jesus, your helper and your Savior for what you need and not to delay.

May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to see the God who lifts us out of the pit. And may you see Jesus as the one who opens our ears and hearts to hope in God’s salvation and power. 

Spoken Gospel

Are you missing out on the true salvation that only Jesus offers?

If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, feel His Shalom — a peace that surpasses all understanding, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift of Grace and the Confident Hope of Eternal Life…

Peace Be Still

Waiting Here for You


Soli Deo Gloria — To God Alone Be The Glory!

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