“Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.” (Psalm 40:11-12)
Commenting on Psalm 40:12, John Trapp wrote, “If this be taken of Christ, he is the greatest of sinners by imputation (2 Cor. 5:20 Isa. 53:6), for our sins (which here he calleth his) he suffered; and here his bitter agony in the garden is graphically described. Neither is it absurd to say, that as he bore our sins in his own body upon the tree, he was first redeemed by himself, and afterwards we.”
Here we are again allowed to hear the agony of our blessed Redeemer’s soul, when he was made sin for us. Here his language is even more specific in declaring that our sins were made his. Here, again, the Lord Jesus Christ calls our sins his own, because “He hath made him sin for us.”
The One Speaking
The One speaking in this Psalm is, beyond all doubt, our Savior. We know that because God the Holy Spirit tells us that it is Christ who is speaking here in Hebrews chapter 10. Our Savior knew that being made sin for us, he would be brought into a horrible pit and filled with distress. Yet, his love for us was and is so great that in verse 7 he declares his readiness to assume a body, and to accomplish his Father’s will in the salvation of his chosen, according to the ancient settlements written in the Volume of the Book, saying, — “Lo! I come, I delight to do thy will, O my God.” Then in verses 11 and 12, he prays for deliverance from his deep distresses.
This is exactly the same thing we read in John 12:27-28. — “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
Why was the Son of God brought to such sorrow and grief? Here is the answer. — “He made him sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him!” Indeed he could never have suffered the painful, shameful, ignominious death of the cross as our Substitute had he not been made sin for us. Justice would never have allowed it. The Lord God declares, “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.” (Pro. 17:15; Ex. 23:7).
Hear the Savior’s words in Psalm 40:12, and worship him. — “For innumerable evils have compassed me about.” He was beset on every side with evil. Countless woes compassed our great Substitute and Sin-bearer. “Our sins,” wrote Spurgeon, “were innumerable, and so were his griefs.” All the accumulated sins of all his people, for all time, in all parts of the world were made his! The Blessed One of God, who knew no sin and did no sin, was made sin!
He cried, “Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up.” He had no sin, but our sins were laid on him, and he took them as his own. “He was made sin for us.” Again, I quote Spurgeon, “The transfer of sin to the Savior was real and produced in him as man the horror which forbade him to look into the face of God, bowing him down with crushing anguish and woe intolerable.”
What would our sins have done to us eternally if the Friend of sinners had not condescended to take them all upon himself? Oh, blessed Scripture! “He hath made him sin for us!” Oh, marvellous depth of love that made the perfectly immaculate Lamb of God to stand in the sinner’s place, and bear the horror of great trembling, which sin must bring upon those who are forever keenly conscious of it in hell!
“They are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.” — In dark Gethsemane, even as he anticipated being made sin, our Savior’s holy soul shook within him; and his holy heart broke. Anticipating the pains of God’s holy fury against sin, his unbending justice and unmitigated wrath beyond imagination, our dear Savior’s soul was so crushed within him that he was sore amazed, and very heavy, even unto a sweat of blood. His strength was gone, his spirit sank, he was in an agony.
Then, as he hung upon the cursed tree, bearing our sins in his on body, he cried, as we read in Psalm 22:6, 14-15, — “I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people…I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.” It was the thought and anticipation of being made sin for us, not of simply paying the debt due unto our sins, but of being made sin, that caused his bloody sweat in Gethsemane. It was this fact, the fact that he was made sin for us, that caused him to be forsaken of his Father as he hung upon the cursed tree on Golgotha’s hill (Ps. 22:1-3).