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Revisiting the pit

Revisiting the horrible pit                     Psalm 40:1-3

The memory of God’s saving mercy is a sweet theme for the believer to return to. It is the mind of God that we reflect often on what He has delivered us from. The Scriptures often enlarge on this theme as God’s servants remember His mercy. Cp 1Sam 2:8, Ps 116:1, Is 38:17, 1Tim 1:13.

The structure of this Psalm is interesting and very instructive in this context. The underlying nature of all Scripture is given in 1Pet 1:10-11. Every word is in one sense or other the word of Christ Himself. Sometimes, as in this Psalm, the Saviour emerges into the foreground and we lose sight of the human writer. Cp v6-8, Heb 10:5-10.

This is the only way that we can go back to the past with comfort and assurance. When our experience of the pit is wrapped up with Christ’s experience as the suffering Redeemer, when we know that we have been delivered from it by His mercy, then we can go back and consider it. Then it becomes a source of deep devotional joy and delight. Cp 1Jn 4:19.


That which the Lord delivered him from is presented in a simple picture.

  1. A place of imprisonment. The word is commonly used of a well or cistern. It is also used of a dungeon. Cp Gen 37:20, 41:14. It was a place from which escape was impossible without help.
  2. A horrible pit. Literally the word refers to ‘noise’ and ‘tumult’. Cp Is 13:4, 17:12, Amos 2:2. The imagery is of the riot of rebellion and in the thick of the battle. Destruction and ruin are oppressively real—in a confined space with no escape. The idea is of unbearable pressure and crushing ruin. This is the perspective on our sinful state that the redeemed reflect upon. It is a view of sin that has no joy, that presents itself only with a desperate desire to escape.
  3. Miry clay. Cp Jer 38:6. he reflected upon an experience like being caught in the quick sand, sunk in mud, stuck in mire.


  1. He inclined unto me. He bent down and stretched out to reach me. The word used in the context of God always indicates His gracious condescension. How low the Lord stooped to rescue us from sin! Cp Phil 2:6-8
  2. He heard me. Having bent down He listened and answered.
  3. Demonstrated in response to a patient waiting on God. There is a resignation expressed in these words. He remembered the realization that none but the Lord could help and he must hang desperately to Him. The word indicates a strong, deliberate hanging on to God like a drowning man might clutch at a rope.


  1. He was brought out of the pit. Escape from all that the pit represented is an overwhelming relief. No more captivity, no more sinking down, no more condemnation and death.
  2. Standing on the rock. The saved sinner has a new footing. Cp Is 28:17, Eph 2:20. The security of the saved sinner is pictured here. Not only set on the rock but established his future steps. Every step he takes will be on the rock, established/‘made upright’ by God.
  3. A God-given song, v3. Cp v16. It is the ‘gift’ of God. It is a new song in contrast to the old songs of the pit of noise! The clamour of the world’s song has no place in the Christian’s mouth. Cp Ex 32:17-18.
  4. A witness. His song of redemption from the pit becomes a witness to all who hear. His object in singing the Lord’s song is to promote fear and faith. This is the consequence of such personal testimony to God’s mercy and grace.

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