We have often heard sermons based upon the "seven sayings of Jesus Christ", uttered while dying upon the cross. These are recorded in the New Testament but did you know that our Lord's words were also recorded in the Psalms?
Many of the Psalms are prophetic. Long before Messiah ever came, the Psalms record our Savior's words. In Psalm 40, we gain insight into the heart of our Savior. We pray that this study would be a blessing to you.
Luke 24:44 And he [Jesus] said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
In the 40th Psalm, our Lord is speaking of Calvary and His resurrection.
Psalm 40:1 <To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.> Anytime we read, "To the chief Musician," we know that these Psalms deserve a special attention.
The Psalm begins with...
Psalm 40:1-5 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.
This is the song of the Messiah, who bore our sins upon the cross and was in the grave for three days and three nights until His glorious resurrection. Christ was delivered out of the pit-- the grave-- being the Firstfruits of them which slept-- the first begotten of the dead. (Rev. 1:5)
At Calvary, our Lord Jesus hung in the darkest moment of all human history. The afternoon sky became black as night. The perfect Son of God-- hanging between Heaven and earth-- in fierce agony and suffering-- while the sins of the world were placed upon Him. Every sin that you and I have ever committed was placed upon Him that day. He bore our iniquities, as Isaiah 53 describes. He shed His precious blood for our sins-- He was the perfect sacrifice for sin! He was in the horrible pit-- He died for us! He was in the grave for three days and three nights following His death-- but the Father gave Him a new song when He raised Christ Jesus from the dead. The Father established His goings-- Christ arose and ascended to the Right Hand of the Majesty on High!
Psalm 40:6-8 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.
Notice that sacrifice and offering and burnt offering and sin offering were not required of Jesus BECAUSE JESUS NEVER SINNED. Christ offered His life for us but never needed a sacrifice for Himself. He didn't bring a lamb because He was the Lamb-- the perfect, sinless, holy Lamb of God. He came to do the Father's will-- He delighted to do the Father's will and God's law was within His heart. His ears were opened to hear the Father's voice. (Jesus said in John 15:15 "For all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.") How beautiful our Savior is! How beautiful was His life-- His relationship with the Father. He walked in perfection before God-- all the days of His life. Perfect obedience-- no sin! Only the Lord Jesus could say the words, "I delight to do Thy will" and "thy law is within my heart." (See Hebrews 10:5-7)
Psalm 40:9-10 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.
Here we have our Lord Jesus saying that He preached righteousness in the congregation. In John 17:4, Jesus prayed, "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." We know Christ's powerful words and we know His wonderous deeds-- for they are recorded in the New Testament. He taught in the Temple, He spoke to the multitudes of the Father's love and the Kingdom. He taught God's righteousness to the people. Many believed on Him. Many were healed. John 8:28 says, Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
Psalm 40:11-12 Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.
Erling C. Olsen, in his excellent commentary on the Psalms, said concerning this passage:
The depth to which our Lord Jesus went is aptly described by Him as "an horrible pit," out of which His Father brought Him, through the resurrection... "withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me..." This is a strange prayer when it is considered that the Father broke the silence of Heaven several times during the public ministry of Christ by saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." It is the testimony the Father gave concerning the Son, yet the Son cried, "Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me." It was during the period when our Lord was on the cross that the attitude of the Father changed. Frequently it is said that the Father turned His back upon the Son, but such is nowhere to be found in the Scriptures. Who ever heard of a judge turning his back upon the guilty as he pronounces sentence? When our Lord hung upon the cross He symbolized sin. God the Father, who being Judge, exacted from Him the penalty of sin. That penalty is death. Thus our Lord Jesus died. In order to consider the reality of the cross, let us look at our Lord's cry, in verse 21:
"For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me."
What a statement! "Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me." Such hold was so pronounced that He said, "I am not able to look up" and the iniquities so numerous that they are more than the hairs of His head. So real was the transaction of Calvary that as our sin, yours and mine, and the sin of the world, was placed upon Christ, He actually called them His own, referring to them as "His iniquities." But notice His language: "they have taken hold upon me." The Hebrew word used in this verse which is translated "taken hold," is an intensely interesting one. It means "reach," as swallowing waves, "to fall upon," as in the case of a blessing or a curse. Thus the waves of human sin are seen rolling upon our Lord Jesus. We also see here what is presented in the 3rd chapter of the letter to the Galatians. Christ was made a curse for us, for it is written, "cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree..." How accurate, therefore, is the Scripture-- "mine iniquites have taken hold upon me."
It cannot be stated too emphatically that our Lord Jesus was the sinless, perfect One. What perfection He possessed! Our Lord on the cross did not change His character. He always was the Son of God's love, the sinless, perfect One, but upon the cross He became sin. He was made sin-- the sin of the universe was placed upon Him. There was no sin in Him: the sin was placed upon Him. He was weighted down by these sins. They were so numerous they were more than the hairs of His head. While He had no sin in Him, the sin of others took hold upon Him so that He was not able to look up.
THE THREE CROSSES
Perhaps we can illustrate this thought by asking you to recall that our Lord was crucified between two thieves. There is no doubt that these thieves were sinners. The Lord was in the center. At first both derided Him, but suddenly one had a change of heart-- or, should I say, a deep sense of sin. He turned to the thief on the other side of the Lord and said, "Dost thou not fear God, seeing that thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds..." but he said concerning the Christ, who hung on the middle cross, "this man hath done nothing amiss." Then addressing the Lord, that dying thief prayed, "Lord remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." Our Lord responded, "Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise."
Look at those three crosses. On the one hangs a sinner, unrepentant-- he has sin in and upon him. On the other side of Christ is the sinner who cried to the Lord for salvation-- he had sin in him, no doubt about it, but his sin was transferred to Christ. He had no sin on him, but there was sin in him. Christ, who hung upon the middle cross, had no sin in Him but taking the sin of the confessed thief and the sin of the world, He had sin upon Him. Hanging there upon the cross He paid sin's penalty.
We cannot fathom the anguish of heart that our Lord endured as He became sin. We can only learn by comparisons and contrasts. We have never known what it is to possess righteousness. We have never been in contact with a truly righteous man. Our thinking is sin, our lives are sinful; but Christ, the sinless One-- Oh! The horror that must have been His when sin took hold upon Him!
-------------------End of E.C. Olsen Commentary -----------------
Let us continue with the chapter...
Psalm 40:13-15 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me. Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil. Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha.
Our Lord's words are also recorded in Psalm 22, while He is upon the cross. He cries in Psalm 22:1 "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?"
Psalm 22:4-8 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him
We see this exact scene displayed in the Four Gospels of the New Testament. We read of the mockers, those who were yelling to him, "If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross....He saved others but cannot save Himself." We read of the soldiers giving Him vinegar to drink and the crowds laughing. It was all a big joke to the mob present. At the cross, we see the ugliness of sin-- the blackness of man's evil heart--we see the tainted sin-ridden blood, flowing through the veins of sinful man-- mocking the very Son of the Living God. They, being in clear opposition to the innocent precious Lamb of God-- whose blood was holy and pure-- without spot or blemish!
The New Testament records Calvary from the point of view of the Disciples but in the Messianic Psalms, we see the cross from God's perspective. We see the viewpoint of the Messiah, as He hung upon the cross in agony.
Psalm 22:9-10 But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly.
Only Jesus could say such words: "Thou art my God from my mother's belly." No man on earth could utter those words except Him. We are all sinners but Jesus knew no sin.
Psalm 22:11-16 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
We can never comprehend the depths of evil that was present surrounding the cross of Christ that day. The Lord uses "strong bulls of Bashan" and "dogs" [wild dogs-- wolves], as a ravening roaring lion, to describe the horrific demonic activity that was present during those hours at Calvary. They pierced His hands and feet. All of His bones were out of joint-- His heart was like wax. This is the suffering to which our Lord willingly went to the Cross-- He was and still is the Only Hope for Mankind. In the midst of His suffering, He saw the soldiers gambling for His clothing. Our blessed Lord Jesus could feel every bone in His body throbbing with pain. What suffering for us! And from the cross, He cried: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." And they mocked him.
In Psalm 40:13-15, His prayer continues: Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me. Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil. Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha.
But you may say, "Wait a minute. Jesus asked the Father to forgive them." Yes He did! Jesus was always compassionate-- even upon the cross. But to reveal to them THEIR grave mistake, they needed to be confounded. Were not the Chief Priests ashamed when the soldiers guarding the Garden Tomb came to tell them that Christ had risen? At the cross, they were mocking but when the sky grew dark, the Temple veil was rent in two, the earthquake that happened...were not some put to shame, who had mocked a short time before? Were not some ashamed? Certainly the certain Roman Soldiers became convinced that Jesus was the Son of God.
Mark 15:32,33 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him. And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
Matthew 27:54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
Were not the devils confounded when Christ made a show of them openly after His resurrection?
Col 2:15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
The Bible says that had the devils known the outcome of the crucifixion-- being that of man's redemption through the RESURRECTED CHRIST-- "they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." (1Cor. 2:8)
Psa 40:16-17 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified. But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.
We know that the Lord was magnified even at the cross that day for a Gentile soldier glorified God and said concerning Jesus, "Certainly, this was a righteous man."
Luke 23:44-47 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.
When you think about it, the most unlikely people believed in Christ that week-- Pilate's wife, the dying thief on the cross, the Centurion and his men; and the Roman soldiers who were present at the Resurrection...they saw the stone roll away with their own eyes.
Moreover Jesus prayed, "Let all those that seek Thee rejoice and be glad in Thee." How wonderful a prayer for those that seek the LORD. Jeremiah 29:13 says, And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. God is truth! The Lord Jesus said in John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. We know that God raised Jesus from the dead. Our Lord is risen! He suffered so much--the Just for the unjust-- and paid the penalty for our sin! And yet if Christ be not raised, we are yet in our sins. The resurrection is truly where the complete victory lies for it is only in a Living Savior that we have hope! A dead Savior cannot save anyone but a Risen Savior is triumphant over death! When Christ arose and ascended to the Right Hand of the Heavenly Father, the prayer of Psalm 40:17 was fulfilled and also the prayer of Psalm 16:9:
Psalm 16:9-11 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
Let us give praise to God! Christ Jesus is alive, seated at the right hand of the Heavenly Father and offers eternal life to ALL who will receive Him as Savior! May God bless the reading of His precious Word!