An Important Step in Handling Habits - Psalm 40:1-

Dr. Steve Viars October 23, 1990 Psalms 40:1

- we've been studying favorite Bible passages

- let's take a few moments to review

- we'll switch it up where sometimes I'll give the reference

  and you quote the verse, sometimes I'll quote the verse and

  you give the reference


- Zech.  4:6-Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit,

    saith the Lord

- Phil. 1:21 - For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain

- Isa. 40:31 - They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their

    strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they

    shall run and not be weary. they shall walk and not faint

- Rom 8:28-29a - And we know that all things work together

    for good to them who love God, to them who are the called

    according to his purpose, for whom he did foreknow, them

    he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of

    His Son

- Prov. 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and

    lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways

    acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths

- Phil. 4:4 - Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say


- Gal. 2:20 - I am crucified with Christ and I no longer

    live, but Christ lives in me, and the life that I now

    life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who

    loved me and gave himself for me

- Eph. 4:22-24 - That ye put off concerning the former manner

    of life the old man which is corrupt according to the

    deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your

    mind, and that ye put on the new man which after God is

    created in righteousness and true holiness

- John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that he gave his

    only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should

    not perish, but have everlasting life

- Matthew 28:19-20 - Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,

    baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son,

    and of the Holy Spirit, Teaching them to observe all

    things, whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I am

    with you always, even unto the end of the age

- Isa. 26:3 - Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind

     is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee

- Phil. 2:5 - Let this mind be in you which was also in

     Christ Jesus

- Phil. 4:6 - Be anxious for nothing, but i everything by

     prayer and supplication with thaanksgiving, let your

     requests be made known unto God


- I'd like to introduce tonight's verse by having us think

  about a couple of questions

- we've been studying habits and how to handle habits God's

  way in Sunday school

- I realize that some of you teach SS during that time so you

  haven't been part of those studies, but we talk a lot about

  this subject because its such an important part of growing

- I think our passage tonight is an important step in

  handling our habits God's way

INPUT - what are some things that hinder us from growing,

      handling sinful habits at the rate that God desires?


       - not reading the Word from the perspective of how I

         need to change

       - not listening to the confrontation of others

       - looking at the speck in someone else's eye instead

         of the beam in my own


         (many other possible answers)


- let me suggest one that may not be the first one we'd think

    of - but one that is important


       - being proud over past successes


       - let me give you an idea of what I mean

       - let's say that Fred trusted the Lord as savior three

         years ago

           - let's say he had done a terrible job of handling

             his finances as an unbeliever, but now he's

             taken some biblical principles and God has

             helped him make some changes in his own spending

             habits and helped him to lead his family in that

             area as well


       - but, he responded to those changes by getting proud

         over the change he'd made


INPUT - What are some possible evidences of pride in a

        person's life like Fred?


       - impatient with others (why don't they handle their

           money like I do?)

       - speak in a condescending way to others

       - critical of others behind their backs

       - harsh with children who foolishly spend


INPUT - what will happen in Fred's life if this pride isn't

        dealt with?  (he won't grow - at least not at the

        rate God would want)


- the question I'd like us to think about tonight is - what's

     missing in Fred's life that could have prevented that

     pride from creeping in?


- what I'd like all of us to do is think about some of the

  habits we've been able to overcome in the past (we all have


- Then I'd like us to ask - is it possible that we have

  missed this same component that Fred did


- that component is found in Psalm 40:1-3, and I'd like us to

  see three truths that I must recognize if I'm going to

  handle habits God's way


- read Psalm 40:1-3


- I probably need to mention tonight that some folks would

  consider this a messianic Psalm

- There are some Psalms that clearly refer to Christ and his

  life and ministry here on earth

- Psalm 22 is a good example of this

- If you have a Scofield Bible or some other study Bible, it

  may say that Psalm 40 is a Messianic Psalm


- let me just say a couple of things about that

- first, in that line that divides the Bible from the notes,

  what's above the line is inspired, what's below it isn't

- those study notes are often very helpful, but we can't put

  them on the same level of Scripture - they are just man's


- personally, I'm not convinced that this is that kind of a



- but, the second point is - even if it was, we would still

  want to talk first about the original context and what

  these words meant to David before we talked about any

  prophetic implications

- so, that’s how we'll be looking at this tonight - from the

  perspective of what these words meant to David and his



- David said - I waited patiently unto the Lord, and He

         inclined unto me, and he heard my cry


- the first point I'd like to make is that David:


I. Recognized That God Acted


    A. the setting - "I waited patiently..."


        - one of the questions we would have to ask of this

          passage is - well, what event is David talking

          about?  When was he waiting on the Lord?


        - the answer we would have to give is - we don't

          really know for sure

        - that’s one of the beauties of Scripture is that a

          passage like this could apply to a variety of



        - I'd prefer not to talk in any depth about waiting

          because we dealt with that when we talked about

          Isa. 40:31

        - the word wait here is the exact same word


        - you might remember that we said in that study that

          not all waiting is biblical waiting

        - biblical waiting isn't passive

        - its not sitting on the porch, waiting for the

          concrete truck to come (if you remember that



- now let's move on - David says - the Lord did two things

      for me in verse one - INPUT?


    B. What God did for me


        1. "inclined" unto me


            - now we need to talk about that one

            - David is saying - I was waiting - I had asked

                the Lord for something, I had made a request

            - then he inclined to me


            - that word literally means - "to bend down"

            - "I made a request to God, and he bent down to

               me to meet it"


    - in fact, you may want to jot down. Judges 16:30 – that’s

      the passage at the end of Samson's life where the

      Philistines had brought Samson into their banquet to

      make fun of him

    - the Bible says - he took hold of the two middle pillars

      and he said - "Let me die with the Philistines -and he

      bowed himself with all his might"


    - David also said -


        2. He heard me


        - now you might say - well, doesn't God always hear


        - answer to that is - hearing in the Bible is

          different than what we think of as hearing

        - hearing in the Bible means listening and then



        - for you wives who are here - we're talking about

          God doing what you wish your husband did a better

          job of

        - in fact, I did with Kris what we encouraged

          everyone in this habits study to do - I asked her

          what sinful habit she'd like to see me work on

        - it would be nice if you were a better listener

        - I think a lot of wives would say that about their



        - now they're not saying - you don't audibly hear my

          words - They are saying - you don't respond to what

          I've asked

        - I asked to do a certain thing, or to not do a

          certain thing - but you didn't hear me in the sense

          of changing


        - Now I do need to say that part of that is the

          wife's fault - because wives don't always come out

          and state their requests clearly

              - driving down the road - wife says - there's a

                dairy queen

              - husband - yep - it sure is!


     - now you might say - PV, I thought we were going to

       talk about habits - I don't see what all this has to

       do with habits


     - here's the point - one of the things that kept David

       from pride was that he recognized how gracious God had

       been in bending down to him, in responding to his

       prayer - in being willing to help him in his time of



- I would present to you tonight that that very step is

  sometimes missed by those who are trying to change sinful



- they had victory over some habit - but there was no

  recognition that God had acted

- Oh, maybe they prayed about it as they started working on


- I surely hope you're not trying to grow without doing that


- but then, after God helped them to handle it - they were

  too busy patting themselves on the back to recognize that

  God had acted


- In fact - let me just ask you tonight - When's the last

  time you can remember handling a situation or a habit

  successfully, where God had given you a measure of victory,

  and you thought to yourself, or you said to someone else -

  God has surely been good in helping through this

        - God has bent down and helped me

        - God has heard my cry


- I'm sure we have some folks here who would say, PV, that’s a

  pretty regular part of my routine

     - I hope that’s true

     - I hope its normal for you to be asking for God's help

       when you start to handle a habit, and its normal to

       recognize God's help when you have victory in a habit

- but I realize you may be here tonight and would say - PV,

  that’s not a regular part of my life at all

- listen, that may be one of the missing links that you need

  to insert in the growth process

- failing to do that may have hindered you from growing in

  other areas


- now, I think we need to say one more thing about verse one

  and that’s this

    - folks in the self-love, self-esteem movement could

      really go to seed on this verse

    - it would go something like this - "you were so

      wonderful, so important, that God bent down to answer

      your prayer" - He inclined unto you

    - you ought to feel good about yourself because God bent

      down to you


- I think we need to say this about that - the purpose of

  verse 1 is to draw attention to the character of the one

  who did the bending

- it would be like this - let's say that tonight - there was

  a piece of trash on the parking lot

     - you looked at it - kept right on walking

     - that says something about you

- on the other hand - if you bent down and picked it up -

   that wouldn't say anything about the quality of the trash

     - it would say something about the quality of your



     - now please don't push that too far - the point isn't -

       we're a bunch of trash


    - the point is - verse one was written to magnify the

       quality of God's character, who is regularly ready to

       bend down for us - answer our prayers for help, in

       handling sinful habits and many other things

    - and some of us don't always do a very good of

      recognizing that when it happens


- now you might ask - well, why is that? Why wouldn't I be

  more apt to think words like verse 1, or say them to others


- I think verse two helps answer that (read)


- the point is, not only did David recognize that God had

  acted, but he:


II. Recognized how marvelously God had acted


    - here's what I'm trying to get at - David knew that when

      God bent down to help him, it was more than just a

      slight bend

    - it was a full blown stoop - because of the mess David

      had often gotten himself in

    - he communicates that from two perspectives


    A. From the perspective of where I came


       - Here's what David is doing in these verses

       - He's giving us a marvelous pictute of what sin is

         like, and what trouble can be like, and what life

         apart from God ca be like


        1. from the horrible pit


         - the word he uses is the word for cistern

         - you know that in that part of the word, they would

           have to dig deep pits to collect water in the

           rainy season for the dry season

         - they would plaster up the sides to hold the water

           better and you didn't want to get thrown in the



            - thats what happened to Joseph - Gen. 37:20-27

            - Isaiah tells us they used to do that with

              prisoners - Isa. 24:22

            - they threw Jeremiah in a pit - Jer. 38:6-13

            - they even used pits as a convenient way of

              storing dead bodies - Jer. 41:7,9


         - you can imagine what that must have been like when

           that deep hole had contained water, now you're

           down there

         - its still kind of mucky

         - maybe there's even some water still standing down



         - thats how the second metaphor fits in


        2. from the miry clay


          - see, he's describing what its like to be in sin,

            or to be in trouble, or to be without God

          - like being in a horrible pit, the miry clay

INPUT - what is David trying to communicate to us about those

        kinds of situations?

          - When I'm caught up in a sinful habit...

          - When I'm in trouble...

          - When I'm without God...  (why does he liken it to

                     being in a pit)


          - I'm not getting anywhere

          - its rotten - it stinks

          - if you don't do right, you just sink deeper and



- point is this - why was David able to get so excited and

  enthusiastic about the help God had given?

     - because he realized how low he was before the help



- now you might say - well, what does that have to do about

  habits and getting proud after we handled one?

- its this - some of us have forgotten how low we were before

  God helped us handle that thing

- some of us have forgotten some of the pits God had to pull

  us out of


- its pretty hard to get proud about handling a habit when I

  recognize not just that God worked, but how marvelous he



- for some - it was the theological pit

     - do you remember some of the crazy things you used to

       believe?  some of the crazy things you used to say

       about God?

- for other - the pit of sin - you remember some of things

      you used to do?  - some of the things you used to think

- maybe for others, the pit of despair - where you were so

         hopeless, so depressed


- some of us perhaps have forgotten what it was like to be up

     to our chins in muck

- see, its pretty easy to get proud of the growth we've made,

  or the habits we've whipped if we forget that

- it’s pretty easy to be impatient with someone else if we've

  forgotten the truth of verses 1 and 2

    - maybe you're working with somebody in your SS class -

      they're not attending as regularly as they should

         - do you find yourself getting impatient with them?

           "how in the world could they be so backslidden and

            immature.  If they're not going to do any better

            than that, I'm not going to waste my time!


         - or, I told that lousy kid to pick up his toys -

           he's 18 months, he ought to have learned obedience

           perfectly by now


         - do you see what's missing there?

         - a recognition of how deep a pit you were in


- David recognized that God had acted, and he recognized how

    marvelously God had acted on his behalf



- David recognized how marvelously God had acted, from the

  perspective of where he'd come...

    - but also:


    B. From the perspective of where I'm going


        - David says this - he set my feet upon a rock, and

          he established my goings


        - we would say it this way today - God has given me

          stability, and direction


        - Isn't that one of the great things about being a

          Christian?  (not that we have it perfectly, but

          when you compare it to where we were before being

          saved-man, what a difference)


- point is - David recognized how marvelously God had acted


- you can see how that would result in a much closer

  relationship with the Lord

- because as you and I are trying to handle habits God's way,

  we're regularly saying things like:


     - Lord, I'm going to work as hard as I can on this habit

     - but I also recognize how much I need your help

     - how bad this thing really is in your eyes


- when I start to change, I'm not going to pat myself on the


- I'm going to be quick to thank you and praise you for what

  you've done


- That’s exactly what David does in verse 3 (read)


III. Recognized how he should respond


    A. with a new song in his mouth


    B. with praise unto God


    C. so that others would be saved as well


- see, what is often the missing link in handling habits

  God's way - is to be very quick to thank and praise God

  when He's helped us to grow


- now you might say - PV, don't you think it would be just

  normal for every believer to do what you're talking about?


- My answer would be "no", and let me tell you why I say that

- we don't always do a great job of thanking and praising

  people right around us for what they've done


- if I asked your spouse - when's the last time your spouse

  thanked and praised you for something?

     - there are some folks who would have trouble coming up

        with one this year

     - or if I asked your child - when's the last time daddy

       or mom thanked you for some of the things you had done


     - see, we don't always do a good job at thanking people

       right around us who have helped

     - when's the last time you thanked your SS teacher for

       his/her work?

     - when's the last time you thanked the folks in the


     - the clubs workers?

     - the workers in Afterglow


- if we don't always do a good job of thanking and praising

  those right around us who have helped us - that is - people

  who have skin on, who we see, and have clear evidence of

  their help

    - if we don't do a good job in that area, I think its

      reasonable to assume that we may not be doing a good

      job of thanking and praising God for his help

        - someone that we can't see - and someone's help, the

          evidence of which we can't visually see

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video