Psalm 40:4-5 Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no-one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.
This is a powerful reminder to us at a time when the going becomes hard, and there are many things to discourage us in our daily walk with Jesus. King David was obviously experiencing such a time when he wrote this Psalm.
Our culture today makes a big thing of personal achievement and success in the things of this world, of fame and fortune. The ME-centred worldview that surrounds and impacts us (especially through our addiction to social media) appears to be winning he day, and subtly drawing us away from a theo-centric and biblio-centric worldview. Our ‘natural’, sinful hearts also give us a predisposition in this direction, so this requires us to adopt a conscious mindset of resistance to such influence.
The Hebrew word translated ‘man’ in verse 4 is not just the ordinary word for ‘man’, it is ‘geber’, meaning ‘strong man’ or ‘fighting warrior’ (cf Isaiah 9:6 where ‘mighty God’ is ‘El-Gibbor’) – the sort of person who would fit in well in the ME-generation! The word ‘Blessed’ translates the Hebrew, ‘O the happiness of …’ as in Psalm 1. So what David is saying is that true blessedness/happiness comes only when our whole trust is placed in the LORD, himself, and not in the man-centred approach of our modern world. And in the next verse he gives us very good reasons for this: The LORD, his God, has already proven, beyond any shadow of doubt, that he is the worker of wonders, innumerable wonders, in his sovereign outworking of his plan for for his world.
If this was true for David at his point in history, how much more true is it for us on this side of the Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. And even with David’s paltry, inadequate efforts to make the LORD’s wonders known, he is confident that “Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD” (verse 3b). Is this not a powerful incentive to adopt David’s approach and ‘make the LORD [alone] our trust’ without any hint of ‘turning aside to false gods’ in which true blessedness cannot be found? “All my hope on God is founded; he doth still my trust renew. Me through change and chance he guideth, only good, and only true. God unknown, he alone, calls my heart to be his own. Pride of Man and earthly glory, sword and crown betray his trust; what with care and toil he buildeth, tower and temple, fall to dust. But God’s power, hour by hour, is my temple and my tower” (Joachim Neander).
– Bruce Christian