And he has put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.
All Commentaries on Psalms 40:3 Go To Psalms 40
Augustine of Hippo
4. "And He hath put a new song in my mouth." What new song is this? "Even a hymn unto our God" (ver. 3). Perhaps you used to sing hymns to strange gods; old hymns, because they were uttered by the "old man," not by the "new man;" let the "new man" be formed, and let him sing a "new song;" being himself made "new," let him love those "new" things by which he is himself made new. For what is more Ancient than God, who is before all things, and is without end and without beginning? He becomes "new" to thee, when thou returnest to Him; because it was by departing from Him, that thou hadst become old; and hadst said, "I have waxed old because of all mine enemies." We therefore utter "a hymn unto our God;" and the hymn itself sets us free. "For I will call upon the Lord to praise Him, and I will be safe from all mine enemies." For a hymn is a song of praise. Call on God to "praise" Him, not to find fault with Him. ...
5. If haply any one asks, what person is speaking in this Psalm? I would say briefly, "It is Christ." But as ye know, brethren, and as we must say frequently, Christ sometimes speaks in His own Person, in the Person of our Head. For He Himself is "the Saviour of the Body." He is our Head; the Son of God, who was born of the Virgin, suffered for us, "rose again for our justification," sitteth "at the right hand of God," to "make intercession for us:" who is also to recompense to the evil and to the good, in the judgment, all the evil and the good that they have done. He deigned to be come our Head; to become "the Head of the Body," by taking of us that flesh in which He should die for us; that flesh which He also raised up again for our sakes, that in that flesh He might place before us an instance of the resurrection; that we might learn to hope for that of which we heretofore despaired, and might henceforth have our feet upon the rock, and might walk in Christ. He then sometimes speaks in the name of our Head; sometimes also He speaks of us who are His members. For both when He said, "I was an hungred, and ye gave Me meat," He spoke on behalf of His members, not of Himself: and when He said, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" the Head was crying on behalf of its members: and yet He did not say, "Why dost thou persecute My members?" but, "Why persecutest thou Me?" If He suffers in us, then shall we also be crowned in Him. Such is the love of Christ. What is there can be compared to this? This is the thing on account of which "He hath put a hymn in our mouth," and this He speaks on behalf of His members.
6. "The just shall see, and shall fear, and shall trust in the Lord." "The just shall see." Who are the just? The faithful; because it is "by faith that the just shall live." For there is in the Church this order, some go before, others follow; and those who go before make themselves "an example" to those who follow; and those who follow imitate those who go before. But do those then follow no one, who exhibit themselves as an ensample to them that come after? If they follow no one at all, they will fall into error. These persons then must themselves also follow some one, that is, Christ Himself. ..."The just," therefore, "shall see, and shall fear." They see a narrow way on the one hand; on the other side, "a broad road:" on this side they see few, on the other many. But thou art a just man; count them not, but weigh them; bring "a just balance," not a "deceitful" one: because thou art called just. "The just shall see, and fear," applies to thee. Count not therefore the multitudes of men that are filling the "broad ways," that are to fill the circus tomorrow; celebrating with shouts the City's Anniversary, while they defile the City itself by evil living. Look not at them; they are many in number; and who can count them? But there are a few travelling along the narrow road. Bring forth the balance, I say. Weigh them; see what a quantity of chaff you lift up on the one side, against a few grains of corn on the other. Let this be done by "the just," the "believers," who are to follow. And what shall they who precede do? Let them not be proud, let them not "exalt themselves;" let them not deceive those who follow them. How may they deceive those who follow them? By promising them salvation in themselves. What then ought those who follow to do? "The just shall see, and fear: and shall trust in the Lord;" not in those who go before them. But indeed they fix their eyes on those who go before them, and follow and imitate them; but they do so, because they consider from Whom they have received the grace to go before them; and because they trust in Him. Although therefore they make these their models, they place their trust in Him from whom the others have received the grace whereby they are such as they are. "The just shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord." Just as in another Psalm, "I lift up mine eyes unto the hills," we understand by hills, all distinguished and great spiritual persons in the Church; great in solidity, not by swollen inflation. By these it is that all Scripture hath been dispensed unto us; they are the Prophets, they are the Evangelists; they are sound Doctors: to these "I lift up mine eyes, from whence shall come my help." And lest you should think of mere human help, he goes on to say, "My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. The just shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord." ...