Psalm 40:5-8 – Thou hast multiplied, O Lord my God, thy wondrous deeds and thy thoughts toward us; none can compare toward thee! Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be numbered. Sacrifice and offering thou dost not desire; but thou hast given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering thou hast not required. Then I said, "Lo, I come; in the roll of the book it is written of me; I delight to do thy will, O my God; thy law is within my heart."
Rereading this Psalm recently, I was stopped by verse six. "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced …" Some versions used pierced and some use opened. In any case I didn't get the connection. Whatever do offerings have to do with pierced ears? So, I consulted the concordance. Sure enough, there it was, Exodus 21:5-6, the law controlling slaves when slavery was a fact among the Israelites. There was a time limit of six years. After that, the slave was to go free. Then comes verse five; "But if the slave declares, 'I love my master … and do not want to go free', then his master must take him before the judges … and pierce his ear … then he will be his servant for life." The pierced ear became a symbol (sign) of permanent possession. After that there would never be any doubt as to whose he was and whom he served.
So it seems that the psalmist is saying in effect that the Lord does not desire our gifts and services. He desires us. He desires us to commit ourselves to him because we love him and want to belong to him and to learn of him and do his will through all times good and bad for the rest of our lives. And he in turn would have us desire him, not just his gifts … not just for fulfilling our shopping list of prayer requests. It works both ways. Our gifts to him, and his to us, follow love. For without love, all gifts are meaningless.
Prayer: "Here I am … I desire to do your will, O my God. And your law is within my heart." May the signs of your ownership be evident in my life today. Amen.