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What does it mean that the Lord “set my feet upon a rock” (Psalm 40:2)?

set my feet upon a rock

Psalm 40 begins with a song of thanksgiving and transitions into a cry for help. David declares his trust in God to deliver him out of his trouble just as the Lord has done in the past: “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure” (Psalm 40:2, ESV).

David’s situation had been so dire and dangerous that he describes it as a “pit of destruction,” “the slimy pit” (NIV), or “the pit of despair” (NLT). He was stuck so deep in the “miry bog” (ESV), or “mud and mire” (NLT) that, on his own, David was powerless to get free. But when he called on the Lord for help, God intervened, rescuing David. He pulled David up out of the desolate pit of engulfing quicksand and set his feet upon a rock.

In contrast to slippery, inescapable mud and mire, a rock is solid ground, firm and unmovable. With his feet set upon a rock, David stood in a place of safety, stability, and security. In Psalm 18:2–3, David depicts the Lord Himself as “my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies” (ESV).

David’s imagery in Psalm 40:2 is a picture of our salvation in Jesus Christ, who is the “Cornerstone,” the “sure foundation,” and “Rock of Salvation” for all who put their faith and trust in Him (Isaiah 28:16–17; Psalm 118:21–23; Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:4–8). Before salvation, we are like David in the pit, bound by sin in a prison of despair and headed for death and destruction in hell (Isaiah 61:1; Galatians 3:22–23; John 8:34). But after salvation, we are like David with his feet set upon a rock. We can declare with David, “You brought me up from the grave, O Lord. You kept me from falling into the pit of death” (Psalm 30:3, NLT).

The Bible portrays sinful living as a slippery slope that leads to disaster and eventual death. Caught in spiritual mud and mire, we live “in this world without God and without hope” (Ephesians 2:12, NLT). We cannot free ourselves from the pit of sin (Romans 3:10–18; 6:23; Ephesians 2:8–9). Thankfully, God, in His great love and mercy, chose to reach down into the slimy cesspit “while we were still sinners” and send His Son to die for us (Romans 5:8; see also John 3:16).

When we call upon the name of the Lord, Jesus saves us (Romans 10:13; Acts 2:21). He frees “captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons (Isaiah 42:7, NLT; see also Isaiah 61:1; Galatians 5:1; Ephesians 4:8). He delivers us from our muddy, sin-filled past and transforms us into shining new creations in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). His life becomes the solid bedrock upon which we build our new lives (Matthew 7:24–29; 16:13–20). He “makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him” (Psalm 37:23) and “safeguards the steps of his faithful ones” (1 Samuel 2:9, GW).

When God sets our feet on the rock of Jesus Christ, He promises us, “When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble” (Proverbs 4:12, NLT). Our lives and futures are secure in Him (Romans 10:11; 1 Peter 2:6). God, our Father, takes hold of us for all eternity, keeping us safe and secure in His grip (John 10:28–29).

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Questions about Psalms

What does it mean that the Lord “set my feet upon a rock” (Psalm 40:2)?
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This page last updated: September 8, 2022