For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.

Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
but my ears you have opened—
burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.
I desire to do your will, my God;
your law is within my heart.”

I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, Lord,
as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly.

11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
12 For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased to save me, Lord;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.

14 May all who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
be appalled at their own shame.
16 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The Lord is great!”

17 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
you are my God, do not delay.


Do you like cleaning? Cleaning can be frustrating, can’t it? Things don’t stay clean. There’s always more cleaning to do. The next load of washing. The next vacuuming of the floors. The next wiping of the benches. The next, the next, the next…

Repetitive cleaning is something that also frustrates the writer to the Hebrews. And he uses verses 6 and 7 of this wonderful Psalm to make the point. The endless cleaning he’s talking about in Hebrews isn’t of clothes or floors or benches. He’s talking about the endless cleansing for sins that happened under the old covenant. He laments “the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year” (Hebrews 10:1). He laments that they ended up acting more as a reminder of sin than a cleanser of sin. He quotes our Psalm as an example of the Old Testament itself craving something better. And he then turns from lament to praise as he celebrates its arrival in Jesus: “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).

We’ve already seen that the movement from lament to praise, expressed by the writer to the Hebrews, is the journey of the Book of Psalms. Its overall shape is a movement from lament to praise. In the Psalms, that praise is often leaning forward for something yet to come. They are reaching beyond their own time, longing for something better. David yearns for a better covenant with better sacrifices, with indeed, a better king than he. So the “I” of verse 7 is not really David, as if any self-sacrifice he could make would be the answer. That “I”, is Jesus.

Psalm 40 reaches forward towards the wonderful message of Hebrews and the whole New Testament. The kings, priests and sacrifices of the Old Testament were the shadow, Jesus is the reality. So today, as you hang out the washing, clean the floors or benches, clean your teeth… give thanks that the greatest washing has happened once for all.


Head: What have you learnt about Jesus from Psalm 40? What have you learnt about yourself?

Heart: How does it make you feel that Jesus has washed you clean of sin, once for all?

Hands: Cleaning might be frustrating, but since it doesn’t demand all your headspace it can be a great time to pray. Here is a win/win for the day: go looking for some cleaning to do and use that time to thank God for your cleansing in Jesus, and to pray for others to experience it too. Clean around the home and pray for others in the home. Clean around the office and pray for others in the office…

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for washing me clean once and for all through the sacrifice of Jesus. Please cause me to be more prayerful for others to know this cleansing too. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.