How Hebrews 10 Uses Psalm 40

So, let’s go on over to Hebrews 10. We’ll read and comment on verses 1-10.

KJV Hebrews 10:1 ¶ For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

OK, so the author of Hebrews is claiming that there is some deficiency in the Law. This is God in the New Testament admitting that the Law that he authored in the Old Testament had some deficiencies.

And if that weren’t the case – if the Law was all that was needed – verse 2…

2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.

But that’s not the case. The Law wasn’t all that was needed, because of what he says in verse 3.

3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.

Why’s that? Verse 4.

4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

That’s the key. The Law is perfect. But it was never able to take away sin. It only reminded those who followed it that they were sinners.

So, God brought Jesus into the world. And when he did, Jesus embodied the spirit of the psalmist in Psalm 40.

5 ¶ Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith,

Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not,
but a body hast thou prepared me:

And by the way, that’s not exactly what we saw in the Hebrew text. We saw David saying that the Lord had “dug his ears.” But now here we have Jesus saying that God had prepared a body for him.

The explanation behind that is that the Hebrew text has what we saw in Psalm 40. But now here Hebrews is quoting from the Septuagint – the Greek translation of the Old Testament. And the Septuagint translated the Hebrew as saying that God had prepared a body for the psalmist.

And it’s that translation that the Holy Spirit decided to use in the book of Hebrews when he describes Jesus coming into the world to do something that the Old Testament sacrifices could never do.

In fact, he goes so far as to say that God had no pleasure in those sacrifices in verse 6.

6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

So, Jesus – seeing and understanding these things – now has a declaration to make.

7 Then said I,

Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

And that’s where the quote from Psalm 40 ends.

But now the author of Hebrews is going to explain why he mentioned Psalm 40 – in this context – regarding the Law not being sufficient to purge the conscience of sin. Verse 8.

8 Above when he said,

Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein;

which are offered by the law;

So, he inserts that mention of the fact that indeed the Law did prescribe offering these things. Verse 9.

9 Then said he,

Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.

He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

In other words, Jesus acknowledges that God’s ultimate delight is not in sacrifice – but in obedience. He – like David before him – came to do God’s will.

And – wonder of wonders – it’s God’s will that we be sanctified, according to verse 10.

10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

So, we praise the Lord for what the offering of Jesus’ body did that the offering of animals could never do – purge consciences of sin and sanctify those who trust in him.

OK – that’s Hebrews 10. Jesus embodies the spirit of the psalmist in Psalm 40 of doing God’s will above offering sacrifice.  And of course, for our Lord Jesus Christ – doing God’s will meant being the sacrifice for the sins of God’s people.

So, with that understood – let’s go back to Psalm 40. And the 9th verse…