The Pits
by Pastor Connie Larson DeVaughn

Have you ever been slimed? Katy Perry was slimed when she opened a box at the Nickelodeon’s Kid’s Choice Awards last March. She was hit in the face with an explosion of green goo, which then dripped down to cover her from head to toe. She took it well, with a smile and joke (she’d been prepped on the prank ahead of time).

Being slimed on a TV show as a practical joke is good fun, always worth a belly laugh, especially if you are a viewer. But being slimed by real life isn’t so much fun. I wonder just what kind of experience King David had with slime as he wrote Psalm 40:1-3

“I waited patiently for the Lord;
He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
Out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet upon a rock,
And gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
A song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
And put their trust in the Lord.”

King David knew a lot about pits. He’d been in a deep hole more than once: in danger from enemies, running from King Saul’s murderous attempts on his life, facing challenges to his power once he was made king of Israel, etc. Some of those pits lasted a mighty long time. Some of them he couldn’t get out of by himself.

This is the position which inspires this Psalm: the bog has sucked you in. Try as you might, you cannot struggle free on your own. You might manage to free one foot, but the other is still trapped, and the freed foot finds no foothold. The only option left is to put it back in the bog. After falling a few times in your futile attempt to rescue yourself, mud, muck and mire have won the upper hand. You’ve been slimed.

In this impossible situation David recommends waiting patiently for the Lord. Not your strength, you say? Waiting is the only option left, so it will have to be learned. Thankfully, waiting on God is never a dead end. We have a God who hears our cries, who inclines to us, who lifts us up out of the slime, placing us onto a firm place.

In visualizing this scene, it struck me that God cannot lift us out of slime without getting slimed himself. The rescuer, in the act of going down into the pit to effect the rescue, must get dirty himself.

King David had no way of knowing this when he wrote this Psalm, but he was describing the salvation work of Jesus Christ. God the Son left his perfect, clean throne in heaven, to share all of human life (including the slimy pit) with us. So even when we are in the pit of despair, the pit of impossibility, the pit with no way out, we are not alone. The pit is a familiar place to God the Son, who experienced his own share of them. God knows all about our pits, not from the top looking down, but from the inside looking up. And he is with us.

Have you been slimed by life’s circumstances? Is your life “the pits” right now? God is near. He is right there in the pit with us. So let us cry out to him, and he will hear. Let us wait on the Lord, and he will get us out. That’s reason to sing!