Psalm 40 - overcomer - A Body You Have Prepared For Me
Verses 6-8 of this psalm are quoted and explained in Hebrews 10:5-9. According to Hebrews, verse 6-8 were spoken by Christ regarding His incarnation. The entire Psalm however cannot be Christ speaking because v12 mentions "my sins", and vv1-2 do not fit Christ.
Vv 1-3 Background of how David received this new song.
Vv 3-4 Are what the results of this new song will be.
V 5 Beginning of the new song
Verses 6-7 Christ coming to end the sacrifices by fulfilling them
Vv 8-10 Christ's earthly ministry
Vv 11-12a Christ's and David's prayer of dependence upon God
v1 - "noisy" means it was full of different voices with no clarity on what was from the Lord. This goes along with v12, where I could not see.
The Lord not only lifted me out of the pit, but 1st He turned to me and heard my plea. This shows fellowship with the Lord.
God will hear His people at the beginning of their prayers if the condition of their heart is ready for it. - Charles Spurgeon
v2- "miry" means there was nothing to stand upon, no solid truth.
v3- "gave me to sing" is literally "put in my mouth".
The "new song" that God gave to David is this Psalm. A "new song" is one that has never been sung before. This song contains New Testament revelation that had never before been spoken. It may not have been understood until the New Testament book of Hebrews was written.
v4- "who trusts" is literally "who makes the Lord his trust".
This word prepares us to receive the New Testament message. To receive Christ, we need to fear the Lord, put our trust in Him and not believe the proud religious authorities or scholars.
v5 - Verses 1-2 were the background of the song. Verses 3-4 are the result that the song will bring. This verse is the beginning of the song.
The Lord's works are so many they are beyond our human capacity to even count, and they are too wondrous for us to understand in full. The Lord's thoughts to us are even more so. These cannot be explained even close to what they are in words. It took the incarnation of God as man in the next verse to show how much the Lord acts and thinks for us (Joh 1:18; etc).
This is in contrast to the proud in the previous verse. They are proud because they think they know so much (1 Cor 3:18-20; etc).
"God's thoughts of you are many, let not yours be few in return." - Charles H. Spurgeon
v6 - According to Heb 10, Jesus spoke verses 6-8 concerning His "coming into the world", that is, His incarnation.
In the Hebrew Masoretic Text (MT), the words "but a body" is replaced by "ears". This is a mistake in the MT, as will be explained a little later in detail.
The Hebrew word for "prepared" is literally "digged", as in "digged a well". This word can have the more abstract meaning of "prepared" or "bought" (Deu 2:6; 1 Ki 6:23; Job 41:6; Hos 3:2) as digging a well or grave is also preparing or paying the price for such through hard work. This means that it was a great effort on God's part to prepare Christ's body. God had to become a man and live in Mary's womb for 9 months. This is too wondrous to explain in words as in v5.
The word "digged" also implies the crucifixion since it is used that way in Ps 22:16.
MT Hebrew text says "ears You have digged (or prepared) for Me", but Heb 10:5 quote of this verse says "but a body You have prepared for Me".
There is no other Hebrew text available for Ps 40 except MT. Ps 40 has not been preserved in DSS.
The 1st half of the LXX 1903 Greek text for Ps 40:6 agrees exactly with Heb 10:5. (The 1931 Rahlfs' critical edition of the LXX Greek text, differs from the 1903 in that it says "ears" instead of "body". The only existing LXX Greek manuscripts say "body", not "ears". The 1931 edition "corrected" the LXX text to read "ears" based on Jerome's Latin Gallican Psalter, assuming that Jerome translated from an older version of the LXX, but he likely translated directly from the Hebrew as he did the Vulgate. More detail in this B-Greek discussion.)
The correct text is Heb 10:5 and LXX. The MT is in error because:
1. Heb 10:5, being part of the New Testament, is inerrant. This does not necessarily mean that in all differences between the NT and MT quotes, the MT is in error. The NT quotation may not be an exact translation. However in this case the meaning of "but a body you have prepared for me" is entirely different from "ears you have digged (or prepared) for me." The 1st refers to the incarnation of the Messiah, the second supposedly means that God opened David's or Christ's ears to hear.
If the Hebrew text said "ears" Paul could not have written as he did to a suspicious Jewish audience saying "body", which he used to make his point in 10:10.
2. The MT text, "Ears You digged (or prepared at high price) for me", does not make sense. If the meaning was that God had opened Christ's or David's ears, this would be a very obtuse way of saying something simple. The Hebrew verb karah, "digged", is never used to mean "opened". If the meaning was "to open" then another verb should have been used. It also should have said "my ears", not just "ears".
There is no thought in this psalm of giving me ears to hear, but the message of the Messiah's incarnation is continued in the next verse, "Behold, I come".
Some Christians interpret the MT to mean that Christ's ear was figuratively bored through as in Exo 21:6 & Deu 15:17 to be a slave to God forever. This cannot be the meaning here. If that was the intended meaning then it should say "my ear", singular with possessive pronoun, not "ears". The verbs in Exo 21:6 and Deu 15:17 are not karah. If karah was used then that would mean that it was a very painful procedure, which is not at all implied by Exo 21 nor Deu 15.
3. The error here in the MT is typical of the MT errors as seen by comparison to the DSS.
Unlike modern translations, the LXX was very accurate about translating Hebrew conjunctions. In the LXX and Hebrews 10:5, the conjunction "but" is there, but in the MT there is no conjunction. It does seem that a conjunction is missing for the MT to make sense.
The Hebrew word for "ears" is aznaim which bears no resemblance to the Hebrew word for body, goof or gveyah or gevah. However, if the missing Hebrew conjunction above was az, (meaning "then), then az goof or az gveyah could be mistakenly (accidentally or on purpose) copied as aznaim. (The Hebrew "g" gimel, looks much like the Hebrew "n", nun. The Hebrew "v", vav, looks much like the Hebrew "y", yod. So az gevah could have been read as azneih, which is close to aznaim.) Ref. Adam Clarke's Commentary on Psalms.
The post 70 AD Jewish council would be biased against "body" because of it's referring to the Messiah's incarnation and for this reason may have chosen "ears" over "but a body" when deciding on the right text between 2 manuscripts as they did in a few other places such as Isa 7:14 and Ps 22:16, which are proven by the DSS.
The MT is amazingly accurate as seen by comparison to the DSS, which is about 1,000 years older. The texts match up word for word, the vast majority of the differences being the spellings of a few words, which can change the meaning. The type of MT errors that we see when comparing the MT to the DSS with the LXX and NT is the same kind of error we see here.
The 2nd part of v6 is quoted in Heb 10:6. Hebrews 10:6 says ".... You did not take pleasure in", but the LXX says "... You did not ask for". Here, I think, Paul gave a better translation of the Hebrew text than the LXX gave. The Hebrew word shaul literally means "ask for", but that is not a good translation of the word in this context. How could it be said that God did not ask for burnt offerings and sin offerings because He did command them to be given in the Old Testament? In English or Greek the words "asked for" include commanding something to be given, but the Hebrew word does not include that. There is only one instance in the Old Testament where the verb shaul is used with God as the subject, Deu 10:12. This is something God truly desired and would take pleasure in. Though it is a different verb, it has more the meaning of "seek for" as in the similar verse in Mic 6:8. Paul would have been intimately familiar with this Hebrew word since it was his former name, Saul (Hebrew shaul), meaning "desired", "sought after", "asked for", but not "commanded".
I added the words "to take away the offerings" from Paul's interpretation of these verses in Hebrews 10:8-10.
v7 - I added "man, once for all, to sanctify" from Heb 10:10.
This verse cannot apply to David, as it is not prophesied about David throughout the Old Testament. Throughout the Old Testament are prophesies about the Messiah.
v8 - These 2 sentences perfectly describe the Lord's life on earth.
According to Hebrews 10:9, "to do Your will" can be taken as the predicate of "Behold I come" in v7 as well as the subject of "delights My heart" in v8.
"To do Your will" is mainly suffering on our behalf, bearing our sins and ultimately being crucified.
Of no other man before Christ's coming could it be said that God's laws were written in his inward parts. David and other psalmists wrote much of their love for God's law, but they never said that God's law was written in their inward parts. Jesus was the 1st God-man. He had God's righteous laws written on His heart and mind. Now, we become Christians by being born of God to be sons of God, also with God's righteous laws being written in our inward parts(Heb 8:10).
v9 - Verses 9-12a could be both Christ and David speaking, but I think it is Christ speaking more so than David because He preached to the "great congregation". The "great congregation" is used twice in this Psalm (v 9-10), and only in 2 other places (Ps 22:25; 35:18).
"Behold" indicates that this is a big thing, which the universe was able to behold.
"LORD, Thou knowest" shows that everything that Jesus did, He did with the Father.
v10 - In v9, Jesus preached what is righteous. Here in v10 Jesus made known God's attributes and works.
In v9, Jesus says, "I've not refrained my lips". In v10, He says, "I have not hid within my heart" and "I've not concealed". The triple repetition of this same thought seems like too much. What Jesus preached in His earthly ministry had been hidden since the foundation of the earth (Matt 13:35).
v11 - From this verse to the end of the psalm is David's prayer. Verses 11 - 12a could just as well be Christ's prayer.
v12 - When I am in trouble, I usually just have one trouble, and it is bad enough. Christ had so many troubles all at once. The Lord measures to each of us what we are able to bear.
In 12b, the speaker changes from Christ to David.
v13 - David had no way to overcome his sins. So he prayed for Christ to come quickly, as also in v17.
Here and in v17, David prays for God to help him quickly. We should have this kind of faith. We should not procrastinate the Lord's help and salvation.
From v13 to the end of the psalm is almost identical to the entirety of Ps 70.
v17 - The word "Lord" in this verse is Adonai or Adoni, not Jehovah as in previous verses. Adonai (Lord) and Adoni (my Lord) refer to Christ, David's Lord. David here is praying for Christ to come quickly.
-copyright Steve Miller 9/29/2011