Way of Escape

By January 6, 2010 Psalms

In Psalm 40 David gives us some good news:


       On October 14, 1987, in Midland, TX, an 18-month old girl named Jessica McClure fell down an open well-shaft. At 54 feet down the fall stopped as her little body lodged in the narrow passage. Her mother called 911 and rescuers began a 3-day operation to rescue the still-living, but bewildered toddler. Most of us know what it’s like to fall and get stuck in a pit: a dark, narrow place we cannot escape. We have fallen into lusts and habits that are eroding the most precious part of our lives. We have fallen into insurmountable debt. Some of us would say we have fallen into a bad marriage or an impossible work situation. We are in a pit. There’s no way out.


ancient cistern

Moreover pits are sticky at the bottom: “He brought me out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay”. David was probably picturing a pit like the one into which the patriarch Joseph was thrown, a ground well, a stone cistern carved into the rock, with ever deepening, ever threatening miry mud at the bottom. And the pit some of us have fallen into is sticky at the bottom, too. Stay there and sink. Whatever pit we fall into will progressively destroy. Get out or die. The ultimate pit, of course, is hell.

As it was with little Jessica McClure, so it is with us: We could not rescue ourselves. Someone had to go down into the pit to rescue us. In Jessica’s case, workers dug a parallel shaft beside the old well opening, then two men were lowered on ropes to cut the pipe, and eventually save Jessica.

Our only hope ultimately is that we be rescued by Jesus Christ. Hebrews 10 tells us about it, quoting Psalm 40: “ I have come — in the scroll of the book it is written of me  — to do Your will” . Jesus Christ came down into our pit, into our condition and circumstances. As another verse in Hebrews says (2:18) “since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” and “By that will he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Jesus delighted in the Father’s will and rescued pit-bound sinners like us through His perfect sacrifice.

Think you’re too stuck in your pit. Betsy Ten Boom assures us: “There is no pit that He is not deeper yet.”  

So David, in Psalm 40,  leads us into the kind of faith we need in the pit. He shows us a faith that waits and a faith that cries out. It is a faith that is both passive — resting in the character and promises of God — and active, crying out — resting in the character and promises of God. “For whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

When Christ rescues us, we are changed in three ways: 

  • Our personal worship is enlarged: “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.”
  • Our personal witness is enlarged: “Many will see and fear and trust in the Lord.”
  • Faith is enlarged among our fellow believers: “I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation…”

Minnie Louise Haskins poem “God Knows” was made popular by King George VI of England as the nation braced for world war Christmas, 1939. In his Christmas message he quoted:

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.

That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”


Here’s the gospel: You don’t have to be trapped in your condition and circumstances. Christ has entered all of our pits and made the way out.

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