Psalm 40 basks in praise and emotes with lament. Traditionally, David has been set forth as the author. The background of the Psalm is difficult if not impossible to know. Perhaps David speaks of his troubles with Saul or maybe Absalom or possibly even Adonijah. No one knows for sure. On the other hand, a great deal of disagreement abounds as to whether David’s life is under consideration at all. Some hold that since the writer of the Book of Hebrews credits Jesus as speaking the words found in verses 6-8, then the entire Psalm ought to be viewed prophetically as describing both the life and words of Jesus. We can outline the Psalm as follows: 1) Confidence in God (1-5), 2) Christ’s Redemptive Work (6-10), 3) A Cry for Deliverance (11-15), and A Call to Seek the Lord (16-17).
So we ask, of whom and of what does the Psalm speak? If we say the Psalm describes David’s life only then we must ignore the Hebrews quotation. We could suppose that the Psalm speaks of an event in David’s life which foreshadows similar events in the life of Jesus. At the same time, we could determine, as already mentioned, that the entire Psalm is referring to Jesus. Whatever conclusions we might draw about the Psalm as a whole, if we believe in the inspiration of the New Testament, particularly the Book of Hebrews, we must conclude that Psalm 40:6-8 certainly speaks of Jesus. Although verses 9-10 may find its fulfillment in verses like Hebrews 2:11-12, verses 6-8 are explicitly quoted by the Hebrews writer in Hebrews 10:5-10. As we consider these verses, let us note what the Messiah was prophesied to come and do and see how Jesus fulfilled each point perfectly.
- The Messiah’s Sacrifice(5-6, 8):
The various sacrifices and offerings in the Old Covenant were insufficient to bring about redemption (Heb. 10:4). Full pleasure for Yahweh could only be accomplished through the sacrifice of His Son (Is. 53:10; Eph. 5:2). Therefore, Jesus “came into the world” (5) that he might taste death for us all (Heb. 2:9) and as the Lamb of God (1 Pet. 1:18-19), once for all (Heb. 10:12) take away the sins of the world (Jn. 1:29).
- The Messiah’s Substitution (Heb. 10:5a):
“But a body Thou have prepared for me.” (Heb. 10:5) This quote is from the Septuagint version. Jesus’ body hung on the cross. The wrath of God was poured out on Him so it would not have to be poured out on us (Rom. 5:6-10; 2 Cor. 5:21). Now, as He gave His body selflessly for me I am to present mine to Him (Rom. 12:1-2).
- The Messiah’s Surrender (7, 9):
“I have come to do Thy will, O God.” Obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22). Jesus offered both of them perfectly. He concerned Himself only with His Father’s will (Jn. 6:38; Mk. 14:36). He never sinned (1 Jn. 3:5) and always pleased His Father (Jn. 8:29). He is the perfect example (1 Pet. 2:21-23). Therefore if we desire to follow Him we should strive to daily surrender all (Lk. 9:23).
- The Messiah’s Sufficiency (10:7, 10):
“Behold, I have come—in the volume of the book it is written of Me.” As Savior, Jesus came and perfectly fulfilled every one of the 333 or so prophecies which spoke of Him in the Old Testament (cf. Lk. 24:44). In His death, He ushered in a New Covenant (10; Mt. 26:28), which the Hebrews writer describes as “better” (Heb. 8:1-4). His sufficiency as Messiah is more than enough (Rom. 5:20).
Psalm 40:6-10, especially 6-8, serve as a reminder of the accuracy of prophecy, the inspiration of Scripture and the beauty of Jesus. May we be willing to sacrifice all for Him (Lk. 14:33); Thank Him for and live continually in light of His perfect substitutionary sacrifice (Phil. 1:27; Ti. 2:11-12); Surrender completely to His will (Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:21) and savor the sufficiency of all that He has done, is doing, and will do for each of us (2 Cor. 3:5).