“I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth — Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the Lord.”
Without giving us the details, David describes the condition of his life as being in a horrible pit of miry clay. A mire is an area of wet spongy earth, like a bog or marsh. David was saying he was stuck in a very difficult place, and it seemed as though there was no escape. Unfortunately, life can be like that. Even when we are walking with the Lord, we come to times of great difficulties that seem to carry on and on, without hope of ever ending. Sometimes, these miry bogs are the result of what appears to be unrelenting waves of trials. Before we get our head up from one strike, we are hit with another. John Bunyan referred to these times as “The Slough of Despond.” if you are currently facing one of these times in your Christian walk, be encouraged with two things.
First, you are not alone. You are not the first, or only Christian, to find yourself in the mire wondering if there is any hope of deliverance. In addition to David’s poetic description of his circumstances, Paul wrote;
“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed, . . .” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Knowing that others, even the godliest of men, have faced the Slough of Despond, encourages me that I am not here simply because of my failures, sins or bad choices. Times in the pit are part of following Christ and becoming like Him.
Notice that David wrote, “He inclined to me.” The word ‘inclined’ means to lean toward. In his darkest hour, the Lord leaned toward David and met him in the pit. Perhaps there is no greater illustration of this than when the three Hebrews were thrown into the fire by Nebuchadnezzar. Three men were thrown into the fire, but four were actually there; the fourth was the Son of God. In the heat of the trial, the Lord shows up (Daniel 3:23-25). If we were to ask those three men what the worse day of their lives was, they would, no doubt, tell us of being thrown into the fire. But if we to ask, what was the best day, they would probably tell us of meeting Jesus in the fire. If you are in a miry clay, a Pit of Despair, or the Slough of Despond understand that Jesus has inclined to meet you there, and wants to draw you nearer to Himself.
There is a second truth revealed by David that is of great encouragement to those who are in the pit. David declares there is a way out. That is essentially what Paul was telling the Corinthians. He said we are perplexed, which means he cannot find a way out, but not in despair, which means there is a way out. How comforting to know, that as difficult as the circumstances may be, they are not permanent. The Lord has a way out. David gives us the secret to finding the way,
“I waited patiently for the Lord.”
The key to the door that leads out of the mire, is waiting on the Lord. Waiting on the Lord does not mean to sit back and do nothing until He decides to lower the rope and pull us up. Instead, waiting involves examining my own life to see if there is anything that needs to be confessed and forsaken. It also includes time attending to the things of the Lord. In the miry pit, we should spend less time fighting and complaining, and more time seeking and praying. You will find that while the slough is not an easy place, when you seek the Lord, His voice is loud and clear.
Until you find your feet back upon solid ground, keep seeking Jesus for what He wants to accomplish in you.
Questions for Psalm 40
- What is involved in waiting on the Lord?
- What attributes are necessary in order to experience the blessed life, see verse 4.
- How much of the day do you spend thinking about God?
- How much time does He spend thinking about you?
- What does David cry out for in verse 11?