|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
40:6-10 The psalmist foretells that work of wonder, redemption by our Lord Jesus Christ. The Substance must come, which is Christ, who must bring that glory to God, and that grace to man, which it was impossible the sacrifices should ever do. Observe the setting apart of our Lord Jesus to the work and office of Mediator. In the volume, or roll, of the book it was written of him. In the close rolls of the Divine decrees and counsel, the covenant of redemption was recorded. Also, in all the volumes of the Old Testament something was written of him, Joh 19:28. Now the purchase of our salvation is made, the proclamation is sent forth, calling us to come and accept it. It was preached freely and openly. Whoever undertook to preach the gospel of Christ, would be under great temptation to conceal it; but Christ, and those he calls to that work, are carried on in it. May we believe his testimony, trust his promise, and submit to his authority.
Verse 6. - Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire. Will the right return be by sacrifices and burnt offerings? No, the psalmist answers to himself; it is not these which God really "desires." Samuel had already preached the doctrine, "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (1 Samuel 15:22). David goes further. Apart from a spirit of obedience, sacrifice and offering are not desired or required at all; rather, as Isaiah says, they are a weariness and an abomination (Isaiah 1:11, 12). The one thing needed is obedience - a cheerful, willing obedience to all that God reveals as his will. Mine ears hast thou opened. Either, "Thou hast taken away my deafness, and given me ears open to receive and embrace thy Law;" or, perhaps, with special reference to Exodus 21:6 and Deuteronomy 15:17, "Thou hast accepted me as thy voluntary servant, and bored through mine ear, to mark that I am thy servant for ever." Burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Of the four kinds of offering mentioned in this verse, the first (זבח) is the ordinary offering of a victim at the altar in sacrifice; the second (מנחה), the meat offering of flour, with oil and frankincense accompanying it; the third (עולה) is the "whole burnt offering," representative of complete self-sacrifice; and the fourth (חטאה), the "sin offering," or "trespass offering," of which the special intention was expiation.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire,.... These were desired, willed, and appointed by God, and that very early, even from the times of our first parents; and, when performed aright, were acceptable to God, quite down to the times of the Messiah: indeed, when offered without faith in Christ, and with a wicked mind, to merit any thing at the hand of God, they were always abominable to him; and he likewise ever preferred love to himself, and of the neighbour, obedience to the commands of the moral law, and works of mercy to men, before all the sacrifices of the ceremonial law, 1 Samuel 15:22; nor were these ever in such esteem with him as the sacrifices of a broken and contrite heart, or of praise and thanksgiving, Psalm 51:16; nor were they ever regarded by him but as they respected Christ; nor were they ever designed to cleanse from sin, and take it away, but to lead to the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ: but none of these senses have place here: the meaning of the words is, that it was not the will of God, at the time this passage refers to, that legal sacrifices should continue any longer; and that they should not be offered up, even by good men, in the best manner, and to the best ends and purposes; the time being come that a better sacrifice should be offered, which was the sum and substance of them, and was prefigured by them;
mine ears hast thou opened; or "dug", or "bored" (m); in allusion, as is thought by many, to Exodus 21:6; though the phrase rather signifies the formation and excavation of the ear; or the preparing and fitting it for its use; that is, to hearken to the will of his heavenly Father, to become man, offer himself a sacrifice, and suffer and die in the room of his people; to which he became obedient, taking upon him the form of a servant, when found in fashion as a man; and was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; see Isaiah 50:4; in Hebrews 10:5, the words are rendered as by the Septuagint, "but a body hast thou prepared me"; and with it the Arabic and Ethiopic versions agree; and so Apollinarius,
"flesh of mortal generation;''
a part of the body being put for the whole; and which, indeed, is supposed: for unless a body had been prepared for him, his ears could not have been opened; and it was in the body, in human nature, that he was the obedient servant; and this is to be understood, not only of a preparation of this body, in the purposes, counsel, and covenant of God; but chiefly of the formation of it in the womb of the virgin, where it was curiously wrought and prepared by the Holy, Ghost, that he might have something to offer, and in it become, as he did, an offering and a sacrifice to God, of a sweet smelling savour;
burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required; any longer; this body being prepared for the Messiah to be offered up in.
(m) "fodisti", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Gejerus, Michaelis; "perfodisti", Tigurine version, Musculus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "perforasti", Cocceius.
The Treasury of David
6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.
7 Then said I, Lo, I:come: in the volume of the book it is written of me.
8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.
9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest.
10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.
Here we enter upon one of the most wonderful passages in the whole of the Old Testament, a passage in which the incarnate Son of God is seen not through a glass darkly, but as it were face to face. "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire." In themselves considered and for their own sakes the Lord saw nothing satisfactory in the various offerings of the ceremonial law. Neither the victim pouring forth its blood, nor the fine flour rising in smoke from the altar, could yield content to Jehovah's mind; he cared not for the flesh of bulls or of goats, neither had he pleasure in corn and wine, and oil. Typically these offerings had their worth, but when Jesus, the Antitype, came into the world, they ceased to be of value, as candles are of no estimation when the sun has arisen. "Mine ears hast thou opened." Our Lord was quick to hear and perform his Father's will; his ears were as if excavated down to his soul; they were not closed up like Isaac's wells, which the Philistines filled up, but clear passages down to the fountains of his soul. The prompt obedience of our Lord is here the first idea. There is, however, no reason whatever to reject the notion that the digging of the ear here intended may refer to the boring of the ear of the servant, who refused out of love to his master to take his liberty at the year of jubilee; his perforated ear, the token of perpetual service, is a true picture of our blessed Lord's fidelity to his Father's business, and his love to his Father's children. Jesus irrevocably gave himself up to be the servant of servants for our sake and God's glory. The Septuagint, from which Paul quoted, has translated this passage, "A body hast thou prepared me:" how this reading arose it is not easy to imagine, but since apostolical authority has sanctioned the variation, we accept it as no mistake, but as an instance of various readings equally inspired. In any case, the passage represents the Only Begotten as coming into the world equipped for service; and in a real and material body, by actual life and death, putting aside all the shadows of the Mosaic law. "Burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required." Two other forms of offering are here mentioned; tokens of gratitude and sacrifices for sin as typically presented are set aside; neither the general nor the private offerings are any longer demanded. What need of mere emblems when the substance itself is present? We learn from this verse that Jehovah values far more the obedience of the heart than all the imposing performances of ritualistic worship; and that our expiation from sin comes not to us as the result of an elaborate ceremonial, but as the effect of our great Substitute's obedience to the will of Jehovah.
"Then said I." That is to say, when it was clearly seen that man's misery could not be remedied by sacrifices and offerings. It being certain that the mere images of atonement, and the bare symbols' of propitiation were of no avail, the Lord Jesus, in propria persona, intervened. O blessed "then said I." Lord, ever give us to hear and feed on such living words as these, so peculiarly and personally thine own. "Lo, I come." Behold, O heavens, and thou earth, and ye places under the earth! Here is something worthy of your intensest gaze. Sit ye down and watch with earnestness, for the invisible God comes in the likeness of sinful flesh, and as an infant the Infinite hangs at a virgin's breast! Immanuel did not send but come; he came in his own personality, in all that constituted his essential self he came forth from the ivory palaces to the abodes of misery; he came promptly at the destined hour; he came with sacred alacrity as one freely offering himself. "In the volume of the book it is written of me." In the eternal decree it is thus recorded. The mystic roll of predestination which providence gradually unfolds, contained within it, to the Saviour's knowledge, a written covenant, that in the fulness of time the divine I should descend to earth to accomplish a purpose which hecatombs of bullocks and rams could not achieve. What a privilege to find our names written in the book of life, and what an honour, since the name of Jesus heads the page! Our Lord had respect to his ancient covenant engagements, and herein he teaches us to be scrupulously just in keeping our word; have we so promised, is it so written in the book of remembrance? then let us never be defaulters.
"I delight to do thy will, O my God." Our blessed Lord alone could completely do the will of God. The law is too broad for such poor creatures as we are to hope to fulfil it to the uttermost: but Jesus not only did the Father's will, but found a delight therein; from old eternity he had desired the work set before him; in his human life he was straitened till he reached the baptism of agony in which he magnified the law, and even in Gethsemane itself he chose the Father's will, and set aside his own. Herein is the essence of obedience, namely, in the soul's cheerful devotion to God: and our Lord's obedience, which is our righteousness, is in no measure lacking in this eminent quality. Notwithstanding his measureless griefs, our Lord found delight in his work, and for "the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame." "Yea, thy law is within my heart." No outward, formal devotion was rendered by Christ; his heart was in his work, holiness was his element, the Father's will his meat and drink. We must each of us be like our Lord in this, or we shall lack the evidence of being his disciples. Where there is no heart work, no pleasure, no delight in God's law, there can be no acceptance. Let the devout reader adore the Saviour for the spontaneous and hearty manner in which he undertook the great work of our salvation.
"I have preached righteousness in the great congregation." The purest morality and the highest holiness were preached by Jesus. Righteousness divine was his theme. Our Lord's whole life was a sermon, eloquent beyond compare, and it is heard each day by myriads. Moreover, he never shunned in his ministry to declare the whole counsel of God; God's great plan of righteousness he plainly set forth. He taught openly in the temple, and was not ashamed to be a faithful and a true witness. He was the great evangelist; the master of itinerant preachers; the head of the clan of open-air missionaries. O servants of the Lord, hide not your lights, but reveal to others what your God has revealed to you; and especially by your lives testify for holiness, be champions for the right, both in word and deed. "Lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest." Never either from love of ease, or fear of men, did the Great Teacher's lips become closed. He was instant in season and out of season. The poor listened to him, and princes heard his rebuke; Publicans rejoiced at him, and Pharisees raged, but to them both he proclaimed the truth from heaven. It is well for a tried believer when he can appeal to God and call him to witness that he has not been ashamed to bear witness for him; for rest assured if we are not ashamed to confess our God he will never be ashamed to own us. Yet what a wonder is here, that the Son of God should plead just as we plead, and urge just such arguments as would befit the mouths of his diligent ministers! How truly is he "made like unto his brethren."
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6-8. In Paul's view this passage has more meaning than the mere expression of grateful devotion to God's service. He represents Christ as declaring that the sacrifices, whether vegetable or animal, general or special expiatory offerings, would not avail to meet the demands of God's law, and that He had come to render the required satisfaction, which he states was effected by "the offering of the body of Christ" [Heb 10:10], for that is the "will of God" which Christ came to fulfil or do, in order to effect man's redemption. We thus see that the contrast to the unsatisfactory character assigned the Old Testament offerings in Ps 40:6 is found in the compliance with God's law (compare Ps 40:7, 8). Of course, as Paul and other New Testament writers explain Christ's work, it consisted in more than being made under the law or obeying its precepts. It required an "obedience unto death" [Php 2:8], and that is the compliance here chiefly intended, and which makes the contrast with Ps 40:6 clear.
mine ears hast thou opened—Whether allusion is made to the custom of boring a servant's ear, in token of voluntary and perpetual enslavement (Ex 21:6), or that the opening of the ear, as in Isa 48:8; 50:5 (though by a different word in Hebrew) denotes obedience by the common figure of hearing for obeying, it is evident that the clause is designed to express a devotion to God's will as avowed more fully in Ps 40:8, and already explained. Paul, however, uses the words, "a body hast thou prepared me" [Heb 10:5], which are found in the Septuagint in the place of the words, "mine ears hast thou opened." He does not lay any stress on this clause, and his argument is complete without it. It is, perhaps, to be regarded rather as an interpretation or free translation by the Septuagint, than either an addition or attempt at verbal translation. The Septuagint translators may have had reference to Christ's vicarious sufferings as taught in other Scriptures, as in Isa 53:4-11; at all events, the sense is substantially the same, as a body was essential to the required obedience (compare Ro 7:4; 1Pe 2:24).
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