Clevedon Presbyterian Church
Kawakawa Bay
Clevedon Kidz

A new song

August 11, 2019
Martin Baker

11 August 2019 A New Song Martin Baker

Psalm 40:1-10

1 I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.

2 He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.

3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.

4 Happy are those who make the Lord their trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods.

5 You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you.  Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted.

6 Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.

7 Then I said, "Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me.

8 I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."

9 I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; see, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord.

10 I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.

In our first week looking at the psalms, we heard a psalm of praise.

So there is a place for praising God. That is a starting place.  With all the challenges, troubles difficulties,  with all of our lists of things that are right and wrong, the psalmist starts with praising God.

And then we heard a Psalm of lamentation. I am sinking and the waters have overcome me and I have lost my foot hold. And there is no one to save me. A time when there seems no hope. A realisation that there comes a point for all of us when we realise we can’t save ourselves. Where all we can do is cry out to the God who leads us through these dark places and to the still waters.

Then we heard  a psalm of restoration and hope. Psalm 27

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? . A powerful encouragement, especially when confronting the fears we all confront at different times. The encouragement to live as people of courage as powerful as those fears are, we can be assured that the Lord is a stronghold in our lives.

This week is a psalm of restoration and hope.

1 I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.

In Hebrew the translation is a little rougher than that.

It says I waited and I waited. It doesn’t necessarily mean patiently. It might be more that I waited a long time.  A sense of waiting with expectation.  He inclined to me and heard my cry. The word inclined can also mean stretched.

English often makes Hebrew sound nice and clean, but Hebrew is always more gritty and robust. I waited, I waited, God stretched and heard my cry. And it is not just an ordinary cry, but it is a cry for help.

How many of us are very good at waiting? How many of us have been waiting for something to happen?   I’ve done a bit of a survey. Waiting can really annoy you or you can let it go. In Auckland we’re all line up on Redoubt Road waiting for a car to turn into a driveway. And some huge 4 wheel drive takes a left up on the footpath drives 100 m down the footpath and curves back on the road to detour around the car that is holding us up.

Part of you goes whoa that wasn’t a good thing to do, but there is a little part of you that goes, hmmm – should I give that a go as well?  

So there is an Auckland car queue kind of waiting –

But there is a positive waiting isn’t there?? Waiting for a great event. A concert.  Waiting excitedly for a present to be given. Waiting maybe for a child or a grandchild to be born. Waiting for something really wonderful to happen.   And your life becomes oriented in a different way.   So the waiting might take a long time but the waiting here is for something really wonderful to happen. And when you are waiting like that your point of view can change.

And in this verse there is a cry for help, but also a waiting, with an expectation that the cry will be heard by God.  God will stretch out and hear your cry. So the faith, crying out ,not into a void but crying out with an expectation that the cry will be heard and there will be a response.

And here is the response to this waiting and crying out.

2 He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.

He drew me up from the desolate pit. The desolate pit. (Bore shore one)  The word desolate comes from a word like roar sounding, a rushing sound, the noise of chaos and destruction. Pit can prison or hole or cistern or septic tank.  And just to add a further level of discomfort, out of the miry bog. Miry. it comes from a word that means dregs. Bog it also means sticky. You get the idea - a sticky miry clay bog.

So we get a sense of this crying for help expecting our cry to be heard. And God lifting us from this pit of roaring chaotic noise.  Out of this sticky mess.  That is what this Psalm is saying in these 2 verses.  It is not so nice, but gutsy.

He set my feet upon a rock. Making my steps secure. So the contrasts here. So you are crying out in helplessness from his horrible, horrible sticky place. And then. He set my feet upon a rock. The rock can also be a strong hold a safe place. Making my steps secure. I am going in the right direction. The trust and security that orientated my life.

3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.

He put a new song in my mouth.  

That is an amazing thing to say isn’t.

How many of us have just got the old song going on all the time?  Do you know anyone who tells you versions of the same story about themselves and how they see the world every time you see them? That’s not a new song.  I’ve heard that one before.   Could any of us be one of those people who only stick to the old song?

Those old songs - they can be so familiar and comforting and draw us back to another place.  Full of nostalgia and maybe grief as well.

But to be given a new song. A new song that is not based on fear or desolation or spending a lot of time in the horrible sticky places in the pit or the mud.  A song that comes from a place of safety and security a place where we know our cries and prayers are answered.  A song of salvation and deliverance.

All we’ve been through and there is still a new song to be sung.

Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.

The word fear here is in the sense of astonishment, wonder, awe, respect. It is not frightened as in scary movie. It is that feeling that you have when you encounter something of greatness.  In front of a great waterfall or gazing into the universe or seeing a whale break the surface. Seeing a selfless act of sacrificial kindness and love.

So we have this story unfolding. Being down in the pit. Crying to God for help. Been raised up and set in a new direction with a new song. And people seeing God working in your life in this way. Seeing with a sense of wonder. And then putting their trust in the Lord. This trust means confidence, security.

That theme has come through again and again over these weeks with the psalms. Without trust almost nothing else is possible in a relationship. Safety and hope are not possible without trust.

Trust is one of those strange things. The only way to find out if you can trust, is to trust. The only way to find out if can trust the promises that Jesus makes is to start trusting them and see what happens.  

And the point is emphasised.

4 Happy are those who make the Lord their trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods. False Gods, the word here can simply means lies.

Last week we heard someone once again defending Facebook – ‘we are just a communications platform’.  And yet we all know now so much more. Collecting private information, allowing hate groups to decimate so much untruth and distortion, allowing other nations to control the democratic processes of others.  

These ancient warnings seem to be so important for us today. Happy or blessed are those who make the Lord their trust, who do not turn to the proud to those who go astray after false god or lies.

When we look at these verses together we find this claim that this experience with God isn’t just a mind or heart thing, not just an intellectual process.

We heard about the feet that are set on a rock, a mouth given a new song, a heart with the law and thanksgiving written upon it and lips that sing God’s praise.

The person, who experiences God’s work in these ways, becomes this embodiment of Good news for the whole congregation, the whole community.

6 Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.

This person who has experienced all of this is given a new way of hearing and listening.

Not only a new song to sing but a new way of listening.

That peculiar pleasure we gain from hearing the downfall of others, the stories of scandal and conflict that we can end up basing our world views upon.

But to listen to the stories of goodness, kindness and salvation.

Is that something we can be more intentional about?  A new song to be sung, but a new way of hearing.  The land protests over at ihumatao.  It is easy not to listen, not to hear, to let our often negative assumptions get in the way.  To hear in a new way, to listen for a new song.

So as we hear these Psalms, of overcoming fear of trusting in God even when we are sinking. To wait with expectations for our deliverance from the pit.

Let’s remember what Paul said to that small group of Christian followers in Corinth.

17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18 All this is from God,

AMEN