Psalm 40:1-11 (NRSV)
Verse 1I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
Verse 2He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
Verse 3He 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.
Verse 4Happy are those who make the Lord their trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods.
Verse 5You 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.
Verse 6Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.
Verse 7Then I said, "Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me.
Verse 8I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."
Verse 9I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; see, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord.
Verse 10I 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.
Verse 11Do not, O Lord, withhold your mercy from me; let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever.
“Jesus, lover of my soul…. You’ve taken me from the mirey clay.”† These words leapt to mind when I read Psalm 40, having sung them many times with college students when I was University Pastor at Capital University. The metaphor of “mirey clay” takes me back to a field trip, where one student found herself sunk over her knees in mud, unable to free herself.
This image can be a metaphor for so many things in life, such as situations we struggle to escape only to find ourselves more deeply enmeshed, addictions which ensnare us, and ultimately, sin from which we cannot free ourselves. When we find ourselves in such circumstances, the psalmist offers a word of comfort and hope, a witness to a God who lifts us out of the mirey clay. Wherever we are, however we got there, God’s rescuing love is there for us.
† From “Jesus, Lover of my Soul” Text: Daniel Grul, John Ezzy, Steve McPherson, © 1992, Hillsong Publishing.
Dear Jesus, you who love us whole, body and soul, lift us out of whatever circumstances hold us bondage. By your grace, set us free. Amen.