Meet the Church Series – Part 4 He Lifted Me Out - Hope 103.2

Meet the Church Series – Part 4 He Lifted Me Out

By Simon ManchesterSunday 13 Dec 2015Christian Growth with Simon ManchesterChristian LivingReading Time: 0 minutes


Father we commit ourselves to you now. We pray that for the sake of your great glory your worthy name, because of our needy condition, because of our wayward hearts for the sake and the honour of the Lord Jesus, for the blessing of believers, for the joy of our own Christian walk, we pray that you would speak to us as we think about this section of your Word and please teach us things we need to know.

We ask it in Jesus’ Name – Amen.

Well friends – I hope you’ll turn to page 555 – I hope you love the Psalms. They are full of doctrine and you will find out lots about God from the Psalms but they also, as you know, express a lot of emotion. I think I can tell you that in the Psalms you will find pretty well every emotion. You tell me what you are feeling today and with a little bit of time we could go to the Psalms and we could find that being expressed exactly. The Psalms are a great great help to us.

And if you study the Psalms and maybe a good thing for you to think about, perhaps giving in 2014, buying a big meaty Commentary on the Psalms, a good one, and studying the Psalms really well, you will discover that they are not a collection of random poems but they actually are under the Holy Spirit’s influence. They have a structure and every single Psalm has logic and if you study them carefully you begin to see it even if we just scratch the surface. So reading through the Psalms you get to Nos. 37, 38, 39, 40 and there is a fit of a theme of “waiting”, “trusting” and then suddenly in chapter 40 there is this little mention of the waiting and a solution. At least David says in Psalm 40 “I waited and he heard and he lifted me out of the pit” – well that’s in the past. You know from the last verse he is in a pit again.

And when you read this particular Psalm here is my first question – Is it about David, Is it about Jesus or is it about you? Unfortunately of course we are so self-pre-occupied we think ‘say something about me!’ But we have to follow the sequence. It’s about David and then we will see it’s about Jesus and it really is. And then we will see that’s it’s about us.

If you think it’s all about David and you stop there, you will sort of have an antiquated approach.

If you think it’s all about Jesus, you will have a kind of an emotional approach.

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If you think it’s all about you, it will be a shallow approach.

So we need to follow and see it’s about David, Jesus and you and me. So the answer to the question – is it about David, is it about Jesus and is it about you? The answer is ‘Yes’.

Well you see in these first verses in Psalm 40:1-3 that David gives his testimony and he speaks about God in the 3rd Person. He says ‘let me tell you about the Lord’. At the end of the Psalm (verses 11-17) he describes his present condition, his present trouble and he says ‘I am right now in a pit, sin, enemies’ and he speaks to God in the 1st Person – “O Lord, my God”.

And in the middle of the Psalm (verses 5-10) there are some strange verses and I wonder whether you are kind of switched off when the Psalm was read and we heard things about sacrifices and open ears, here I am, assembly and I suspect that most people will shelve those verses. The danger is when the Preacher shelves those verses because they are sort of too weird or difficult.

I want to suggest to you that if you shelve the middle verses you miss the key to the Psalm and you miss the hinge on which the Psalm turns. This is a regular principle in Scripture – if you are studying your Bible and you come upon a part that is really difficult, stay with it because that could well be the key to the passage.

Well I want to follow this Psalm under 2 headings this morning. The first is that God has an answer to the pit (verses 1-3)

“I waited patiently for the Lord;

He turned to me and he 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

And put their trust in the Lord”.

 Now friends imagine you are visiting a senior Christian and they are in a pit, very serious pit of illness, perhaps they are even dying and as you sit on your chair beside their sick bed or their death bed, they lean up on one arm and say to you – “listen to me young man/young woman, listen to me – God has helped me in the past, I waited patiently for him in the past and he heard my cry and he lifted me up and he put my feet on a rock and he gave me a new song”. That’s what God is like, says this person. He may take me out of this bed and give me new strength or he may lift me out of this world and take me home but that’s what he is like.

It would be a very edifying few minutes for you – partly because it’s true, partly because it would do you good to hear somebody testify to the Lord’s goodness and partly because you need to be reminded yourself when you are in the pits that he has been good to you in the past.

Calvin says – we must never assume that in our afflictions God wearies of us or that we become a burden to him – He who has helped us – will help us. That is his character.

So David tells his story, you see, in these first few verses and it’s very general – I am grateful that it is general because it is so general we can millions of us can read this Psalm and feel as though we can identify with “pit”, “rock”, “deep hole”, “lifted out”.

The principle is a very comprehensive one and if I went around with a microphone to the pews this morning and I said

“Could you just tell me how the Lord has brought you out of the pit –?

Whether it was the pit of spiritual deadness or

Physical weakness or

Physical sickness or

Maybe some kind of circumstantial failure where your business fell apart or

You were involved in a disaster or

You had some kind of emotional rock-bottom moment or

You had a relational complete mess going on –

You could say again and again “he has brought me up out of the pit many times”.

And it was Him who brought us up out of the pit – please don’t credit yourself with organising the cells of your body and the circumstances and the conditions – it was Him who did it. And you will see that David is incredibly keen that God be glorified and he does this in the first 3 verses by saying to us – I want to tell you what I contributed to my rescue –

this is what I contributed to my rescue –


this is what God contributed to my rescue,

he turned to me,

he listened,

he lifted,

he set my feet on a rock,

he put me in a firm place,

he stuck a song in my mouth.

I did 2 feeble things, says David, but he did 6 mighty things.

A mark of a good testimony if you ever get to give your testimony is that people go away deeply interested in Jesus because they see that the applause goes to Him. However David does say he waited patiently – it sounds as though he was impressive and God was sluggish as if David says – I was good, I patiently, patiently and patiently waited – I don’t know – God maybe busy – perhaps he’s forgotten. Sometimes we can feel like that but actually we are dealing with Yahweh as we heard in our Children’s Message. He says ‘I waited patiently for the L O R D, I waited patiently for the Lord, that’s Yahweh, the God who has made a contract covenant marriage with me and he has got all the love and all the power that you could possibly want.

So friends when you say ‘I am waiting patiently for the Lord’ and maybe you are today, you are not waiting patiently for the NRMA – some kind of professional, no personal interest and still very useful – we are talking about waiting for the parent to bring us the Panadol at the right time – because the parent has the love and the wisdom and the power to know how to deal with us.

Sometimes I don’t hesitate to say the waiting is incredibly hard. 60 seconds seems like 60 minutes, 60 minutes seems like 60 days. Some people wait years and we need grace for the waiting. But that doesn’t mean God’s character changes and he moves from being loving to careless, perfect to sadistic. His character stays the same.

So he may give a speedy answer and the Bible is full of speedy answers. We think of Peter coming out of prison, angelically led out of prison. But then think of Joseph being left in prison, Paul being left in prison, somebody escapes the sword and somebody doesn’t escape. When a personal doesn’t get a speedy release, God gives grace for the pit.

And so David says since God has been my deliverer and he remains my deliverer he will be my deliverer. And that’s why he wants his testimony to be instructive – in verses 3 & 4 he says ‘listen everybody, this is what I want you to learn from my experience –

Put your trust in God,

don’t put your trust in yourself even though you are very wonderful,

don’t put your trust in yourself,

don’t put your trust in your proud friends and your team at work,

put your trust in the Lord and don’t turn to lies or to sin’.

We are sinful people, aren’t we? If your experience is like mine, when you are in the pit and you think all I want to be is happy – then you think, well anything will do – and that’s where we very quickly turn to sin. And then we discover the pit gets deeper.

I am not telling you because I have solved this – I am just telling you because it’s true. We have to wake up and deliberately turn to the Lord.

In these very few verses of Psalm 40 he is in a new pit and again it’s very general – he doesn’t tell us exactly but he tells us there are lots of sins (verse 12) and there are lots of troubles (verse 12). And again I want to say to you – please don’t imagine any preacher will ever get up and say to you ‘listen you plebs, you need to be like me. I’ve said good-bye to the pits because I am so pious. If you just move to your B grade and be like me in the A grade, all would be great’. That’s a delusion. We are sinful people and we are in a sinful world and there’s going to be lots of pits – little pits and big pits.

Jesus said in John 16 “You will experience many troubles”.

Paul said in Acts 14 “We have to go through many hardships”

Some of them maybe very deep and it’s possible that someone goes through a dreadful divorce and then they get cancer. It’s possible that somebody loses their job and in the same week they lose their house in a bushfire. It’s possible that somebody will be fighting depression at its very worst and then lose a child. This is the world that we are in.

How does David deal with this? Well he deals with this, first of all, by remembering that God is his Yahweh. He is not alone in the world.

Secondly he remembers God’s record which is that he did rescue him and he will rescue him. Paul says the same in 2 Corinthians 1 ‘he has delivered us and he will deliver us’.

And the other thing David does is that he remembers that God’s character means that his mercies are more in number than his troubles. His kindnesses are more in number than his sins. That’s a fantastic thing.

Verse 12 ‘numberless troubles’.

Verse 5 ‘even more numberless mercies’.

It’s like Romans 5 where Paul said “sin increased – grace hyper-increased”.

That’s what David says here.

So his testimony is telling us to trust God because if things lead you AWAY FROM God, you know you are being tricked but if things lead you TO God, well what could happen? That’s the second point this morning.

So first of all – God has an answer to the pit

The second point is – God has a purpose for the pit.

This is where the mysterious verses 5-10 come in and I want to ask you to pay attention. I know you have IQ’s over 50 but I am asking you to try and get this because in verses 5-10 we come to what is the secret of the Psalm. Why would David say (look at verse 6) he is in his pit – why would he say

“sacrifice and offering you did not desire,

but my ears you have pierced;

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, O my God;

Your law is within my heart.”

Why would you say that? Why doesn’t David go straight from verses 1-4 “he rescued me………he will rescue me”. That’s a really nice Psalm – there are 2 points – “he rescue me”….”he will rescue me”. But in the middle is the key to the Psalm.

He says in verse 6 you don’t want sacrifices. Why does he say that? Because God had commanded Old Testament sacrifices. No David has realised something and that is – it’s come home to him in the pit that God doesn’t want empty sacrifices. To grind out your religion, to repeat your religion, to get in the habit of your religion doesn’t necessarily excite God at all. He is interested in the condition of our heart. When God sees unrepentant people in the Old Testament or unrepentant people in the New Testament bringing their offerings to the temple or themselves to the gathering and sing songs which we don’t mean and pray prayers that we don’t mean and say grace at lunch that we don’t mean and give offertories that we don’t care about and have fellowship that we don’t care about – it doesn’t please him at all.

Amos chapter 5 verse 21 says “I hate your services, I hate your singing”. We need to remember this, not because God is hateful, not because he is sadistic, not because he is difficult but because he is not interested in superficial grinded out religion. If we give to God cranked out religion, it’s like giving him some warm salt water to drink! It makes him sick.

So when we are sincere it delights him, when we are divided – it grates.

Michael Wilcock says in his Commentary “God had imposed on Israel the system of sacrifices but sacrifices per se were not want he wanted. He was looking for the inward grace of which the sacrifice was the outward sign.

Now how do we know David was onto this because of verse 6 he said ‘you don’t want empty sacrifices, you’ve dug out my ears’. Isn’t that a strange verse? That’s what it literally says in the Hebrew – you don’t want sacrifices, you’ve pierced my ears, you’ve dug out my ears’.

In other words, you have got through to me! The word which I have been reading in my Bibles and listening to in sermons which has had no effect on me whatsoever has HIT ME in the PIT. In fact it’s probably the pit that has made me listen. So he says my response (verse 7) is “here I am” 100% I’m yours – that’s what God wants. I desire (verse 8) to do your will – that’s healthy, healthy listening.

I don’t know if you know the name of Jim Kennedy but Jim Kennedy was for many years the Pastor of a big church in Florida USA. And in his youth he was a dance instructor with the Arthur Murray Dance School and he was a ladies man and he was a drinker and one evening he had had his fair share of everything and he was going to bed completely debauched and he woke up with a complete hangover and he turned the radio on and the voice of Donald Gray Barnhouse came through the radio.

Donald Grey Barnhouse said ‘there’s a man somewhere lying in the pit and he has had a debauched evening and he has now got a dreadful hangover and my message to you young man is this – if you had died last night, would you be in hell right now? And James Kennedy paid massive attention to this and he gave his life, he went into Ministry, he started the Evangelism Explosion Program. The key question is: if you died tonight and you came face to face with Jesus, where would you be?

And this is God communicating in a pit more clearly than he communicates when we are just playing on the hill. That’s what David is talking about here.

Now the interesting thing about David’s words when he says all this is that they are just a little bit too grand for David. I mean he is a King, he’s obviously repenting, he’s rededicating his life to God but to stand up to God and say “no more sacrifices, I’m here” – that’s just a little bit too grand, too grand for David.

David is a sinful man. It’s true that God has rescued him but he’s not going to be the solution to the world. These verses go through to Jesus and if you don’t think this is true, read your New Testament where you will discover that the writer of Hebrews takes this middle section and sticks it into Hebrews chapter 10 and says the only person who could really talk like this is Jesus.

So Jesus came into the world and said ‘I am listening, here I am, I am devoted, I am here to do your will and as he came into the world and he did God’s will, what did he do?

He lived perfectly,

He died substitutionally,

He rose victoriously and

He is the solution to the sinful world.

I read these verses to Kathy during the week and she said ‘isn’t it interesting’, (this is the best thing I got in all my preparation, I got this from my wife), she said ‘isn’t it interesting – I’ll read this little quote –

‘the pit of trouble maybe the solution to the pit of deafness’.

‘the pit of trouble maybe the solution to the pit of deafness’.

Now friends, I think that many of you this morning are not going to hear me. You are not going to get this. So I want to say this to you as carefully as I can – we need to be lifted out of the pit of sin for salvation, some have not yet been lifted out because you have not woken up yet to the fact that you are IN the pit of sin and you need a Saviour. But we also need on a regular basis to go INTO little pits because we are so sinful. And then we come to our senses by the grace of God and he lifts us up again and the pit of trouble is the solution to the pit of deafness.

And if you don’t think what I am saying makes any sense to you or if you think this is just straight over the head, let me tell you that before 24 hours is out, you will be put by God into some little pit or big pit and it isn’t purposeless. It’s because He is working on your listening and your devotion because that’s where you will honour him, bless the world and be joyful yourself. So don’t despise the pits.

But Jesus is the real solution – he’s the one who really came, who really offered himself and who really is able to lift sinners out. So God, friends, works with pits –

The pit of sin – which we are born into, we settle into it, God wakes us up.

We call to Jesus and he raises us to new life and one day to glory.

We also find that God works with the pit of trouble.

We fall into little troubles, maybe just a little sadness between now and tonight. Maybe something will go wrong and you say to yourself ‘this is a little pit’ and God uses pits often to bring us to our senses.

So this Psalm is about David rescued from his troubles. This Psalm is about Jesus coming to rescue from troubles. And this Psalm is about you needing to be rescued from sin and from regular little pits.

I hope today you will thank him for the salvation of bringing you out of the pit of darkness and spiritual deadness (Colossians 1) Paul says ‘he has rescued us from darkness’ and I hope that you will thank him for the times where he wisely puts you into little pits because he loves you. As a cook works with heat and a carpenter works with a hammer, so the Lord works with pits because he loves you.

We are a lot weaker than we think we are.

We are a lot more sinful than we realize.

God is a lot wiser than we credit him with.

He is a lot more vital than we understand.

That’s why we have a Prayer Meeting because we realise that this is a spiritual work and nobody is going to listen unless we ask the Lord’s help and nobody is going to grow unless we ask the Lord’s help. We don’t put it on to waste time or to take your time – we put it on for spiritual people who know that unless we get together and ask God – we are helpless.

So there are the two points this morning – God has an answer to the pit and God has a purpose for the pit.

Let’s pray –

Our Father we thank you this morning for giving to us not only this Psalm but also a very great Saviour. We thank you for one who has come all the way down in order that we might be raise all the way up. We thank you that as our heavenly Father, you care for us enough to humble us in order to deepen us and we pray that you would help us to trust you in all things. And when you have been kind to us, as you are every day, that you would help us to testify and enable others to put their trust in you.

We ask it in Jesus’ Name – Amen.