Psalm 40:17

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 17. But I am poor and needy. The man of sorrows closes with another appeal, based upon his affliction and poverty. Yet the Lord thinketh upon me. Sweet was this solace to the holy heart of the great sufferer. The Lord's thoughts of us are a cheering subject of meditation, for they are ever kind and never cease. His disciples forsook him, and his friends forgat him, but Jesus knew that Jehovah never turned away his heart from him, and this upheld him in the hour of need. Thou art my help and my deliverer. His unmoved confidence stayed itself alone on God. O that all believers would imitate more fully their great Apostle and High Priest in his firm reliance upon God, even when afflictions abounded and the light was veiled. Make no tarrying, O my God. The peril was imminent, the need urgent, the suppliant could not endure delay, nor was he made to wait, for the angel came to strengthen, and the brave heart of Jesus rose up to meet the foe. Lord Jesus, grant that in all our adversities we may possess like precious faith, and be found like thee, more than conquerors.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 17. In Dr. Malan's memoir, the editor, one of his sons, thus writes of his brother Jocelyn, who was for some years prior to his death, the subject of intense bodily sufferings: -- "One striking feature in his character was his holy fear of God, and reverence for his will." One day I was repeating a verse from the Psalms, `As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord careth for me: thou art my helper and deliverer; O Lord, make no long tarrying.' He said, `Mamma, I love that verse, all but the last bit, it looks like a murmur against God. He never `tarries' in my case.' From "The Life, Labours, and Writings of Caesar Malan" (1787-1864): By one of his sons, 1869.

Verse 17. Yet the Lord thinketh upon me. Sacred story derives from heaven the kindness of Abimelech to Abraham, of Laban and Esau to Jacob, of Ruth to Naomi, of Boaz to Ruth, and Jonathan to David. When others think of kindness to us, let us imitate David, it is the Lord that thinketh upon me, and forms those thoughts within their hearts. This should calm our spirits when a former friend's heart is alienated by rash admissions of false suggestions, or when any faithful Jonathan expires his spirit into the bosom of God. It should not be lost what Hobson, the late noted carrier of Cambridge, said to a young student receiving a letter of the sad tidings of his uncle's decease (who maintained him at the University), and weeping bitterly, and reciting the cause of his grief, he replied, Who gave you that friend? Which saying did greatly comfort him, and was a sweet support to him afterwards in his ministry. The Ever living God is the portion of a living faith, and he can never want that hath such an ocean. He that turns the hearts of kings like rivers at his pleasure, turns all the little brooks in the world into what scorched and parched ground he pleases. Samuel Lee.

Verse 17. The Lord thinketh upon me. There are three things in God's thinking upon us, that are solacing and delightful. Observe the frequency of his thoughts. Indeed, they are incessant. You have a friend, whom you esteem and love. You wish to live in his mind. You say when you part, and when you write, "Think of me." You give him, perhaps, a token to revive his remembrance. How naturally is Selkirk, in his solitary island, made to say: --

"My friends, do they now and then send
A wish or a thought after me?
O tell me, I yet have a friend,
Though a friend I am never to see."
"Ye winds, that have made me your sport,
Convey to this desolate shore
Some cordial, endearing report
Of a land I shall visit no more."

But the dearest connexion in the world cannot be always thinking upon you. Half his time he is in a state of unconsciousness; and how much during the other half is he engrossed! But there is no remission in the Lord's thoughts ... Observe in the next place, the wisdom of his thoughts. You have a dear child, absent from you, and you follow him in your mind. But you know not his present circumstances. You left him in such a place; but where is he now? You left him in such a condition. But what is he now? Perhaps while you are thinking upon his health, he is groaning under a bruised limb, or a painful disorder. Perhaps, while you are thinking of his safety, some enemy is taking advantage of his innocency. Perhaps, while you are rejoicing in his prudence, he is going to take a step that will involve him for life. But when God thinketh upon you, he is perfectly acquainted with your situation, your dangers, your wants. He knows all your walking through this great wilderness, and can afford you the seasonable succour you need. For again, observe the efficiency of his thoughts. You think upon another, and you are anxious to guide, or defend, or relieve him. But in how many cases can you think only? Solicitude cannot control the disease of the body, cannot dissipate the melancholy of the mind. But with God all things are possible. He who thinks upon you is a God at hand and not afar off; he has all events under his control; he is the God of all grace. If, therefore, he does not immediately deliver, it is not because he is unable to redress, but because he is waiting to be gracious. William Jay.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 17. The humble But, and the believing Yet. The little I am, and the great Thou art. The fitting prayer.

Verse 17. The Lord thinketh upon me. Admire the condescension, and then consider that this is --

  1. A promised blessing.
  2. A practical blessing -- he thinks upon us to supply, protect, direct, sanctify, &c.
  3. A precious blessing -- kind thoughts, continual, greatly good. He thinks of us as his creatures with pity, as his children with love, as his friends with pleasure.
  4. A present blessing -- promises, providences, visitations of grace.

Verse 17.

  1. The less we think of ourselves the more God will think upon us.
  2. The less we put trust in ourselves the more we may trust in God for help and deliverance.
  3. The less delay in prayer and active efforts the sooner God will appear for us.