on Psalms 40 :6
Sacrifice and offering - The apostle, Hebrews 10:5, etc., quoting this and the two following verses, says, When he (the Messiah) cometh into the world - was about to be incarnated, He saith - to God the Father, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not - it was never thy will and design that the sacrifices under thy own law should be considered as making atonement for sin; they were only designed to point out my incarnation and consequent sacrificial death: and therefore a body hast thou prepared me, by a miraculous conception in the womb of a virgin; according to thy word, The seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent.
A body hast thou prepared me - The quotation of this and the two following verses by the apostle, Hebrews 10:5, etc., is taken from the Septuagint, with scarcely any variety of reading: but, although the general meaning is the same, they are widely different in verbal expression in the Hebrew. David's words are אזנים כרית לי oznayim caritha lli, which we translate, My ears hast thou opened; but they might be more properly rendered, My ears hast thou bored; that is, Thou hast made me thy servant for ever, to dwell in thine own house: for the allusion is evidently to the custom mentioned Exodus 21:2, etc.: "If thou buy a Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve, and in the seventh he shall go out free: but if the servant shall positively say, I love my master, etc., I will not go out free; then his master shall bring him to the doorpost, and shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him for ever."
But how is it possible that the Septuagint and the apostle should take a meaning so totally different from the sense of the Hebrew? Dr. Kennicott has a very ingenious conjecture here: he supposes that the Septuagint and apostle express the meaning of the words as they stood in the copy from which the Greek translation was made; and that the present Hebrew text is corrupted in the word אזנים oznayim, ears, which has been written through carelessness for אז גוה az gevah, Then, a Body The first syllable, אז az, Then, is the same in both; and the latter, Myn, which, joined to אז makes אזנים oznayim, might have been easily mistaken for גוה gevah, Body; נ nun being very like ג gimel; י yod like ו vau; and h he like final ם mem; especially if the line on which the letters were written in the MS. happened to be blacker than ordinary, which has often been a cause of mistake, it might then have been easily taken for the under-stroke of the mem, and thus give rise to a corrupt reading; add to this, the root כרה carah signifies as well to prepare, as to open, bore, etc. On this supposition the ancient copy translated by the Septuagint, and followed by the apostle, must have read the text thus: אז גוה כרית לי az gevah charitha lli; Σωμα δε κατηρτισω μοι· Then a body thou hast prepared me: thus the Hebrew text, the version of the Septuagint, and the apostle, will agree in what is known to be an indisputable fact in Christianity; namely, that Christ was incarnated for the sin of the world.
The Ethiopic has nearly the same reading: the Arabic has both, "A body hast thou prepared me, and mine ears thou hast opened." But the Syriac, the Chaldee, and the Vulgate, agree with the present Hebrew text; and none of the MSS. collated by Kennicott and De Rossi have any various reading on the disputed words.
It is remarkable, that all the offerings and sacrifices which were considered to be of an atoning or cleansing nature, offered under the law, are here enumerated by the psalmist and the apostle, to show that none of them, nor all of them, could take away sin; and that the grand sacrifice of Christ was that alone which could do it.
Four kinds are here specified, both by the psalmist and the apostle: viz. Sacrifice, זבח zebach, θυσια; Offering, מנחה minchah, προσφορα; Burnt-Offering, עולה olah, ὁλοκαυτωμα; Sin-Offering, חטאה chataah, περι ἁμαρτιας. Of all these we may say, with the apostle, it was impossible that the blood of bulls and goats, etc. should take away sin.
Thou hast had no pleasure - Thou couldst never be pleased with the victims under the law; thou couldst never consider them as atonements for sin, as they could never satisfy thy justice, nor make thy law honorable.
on Psalms 40 :6
Sacrifice and offering - The first of the words used here - זבח zebach - means properly a bloody-offering; the other - מנחה minchāh - an offering without blood, as a thank-offering. See the notes at Isaiah 1:11. The four words employed in this verse - sacrifice, offering, burnt-offering, sin-offering - embrace all the species of sacrifice and offerings known among the Hebrews; and the idea here is, that such offering as they were accustomed to offer was required of him who is here referred to. A higher service was needed.
Thou didst not desire - The word here rendered desire means to incline to, to be favorably disposed, as in reference to doing anything; that is, to will, to desire, to please. The meaning here is, that he did not will this or wish it; he would not be pleased with it in comparison with obedience, or as a substitute for obedience. He preferred obedience to any external rites and forms; to all the rites and forms of religion prescribed by the law. They were of no value without obedience; they could not be substituted in the place of obedience. This sentiment often occurs in the Old Testament, showing that the design of all the rites then prescribed was to bring men to obedience, and that they were of no value without obedience. See the notes at Isaiah 1:10-20; compare 1 Samuel 15:22; Psalm 51:16-17; Hosea 6:6; see also the notes at Hebrews 10:5.
Mine ears hast thou opened - Margin: "digged." The Hebrew word - כרה kârâh - means "to dig;" as, to dig a well, Genesis 26:25; to dig a sepulchre, Genesis 50:5. As used here this would properly mean, "mine ears hast thou digged out;" that is, thou hast so opened them that there is a communication with the seat of hearing; or, in other words, thou hast caused me to hear this truth, or hast revealed it to me. Compare Isaiah 50:5, "The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious." The meaning here would be, that the ear had been opened, so that it was quick to hear. An indisposition to obey the will of God is often expressed by the fact that the ears are "stopped:" Zechariah 7:11; Psalm 58:4-5; Proverbs 21:13. There is manifestly no allusion here, though that has been supposed by many to be the reference, to the custom of boring through the ear of a servant with an awl, as a sign that he was willing to remain with his master: Exodus 21:6; Deuteronomy 15:17. In that case the outer circle, or rim of the ear was "bored through" with an awl; here the idea is that of "hollowinq out," digging, excavating, that is, of making a passage "through," so that one could hear; not the mere piercing of the outer ear. The essential idea is, that this truth had been communicated to him - that God preferred obedience to sacrifice; and that he had been made attentive to that truth, "as if" he had been before deaf, and his ears had been opened. The principal difficulty in the passage relates to its application in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Hebrews 10:5. That difficulty arises from the fact that the Septuagint translates the phrase here by the words "a body hast thou prepared me;" and that the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews founds an argument on that translation, with reference to the work of the Messiah. On this point, see the notes at Hebrews 10:5. It is perhaps not now possible to explain this difficulty in a way that will be entirely satisfactory.
burnt-offering - See the notes at Isaiah 1:11. The uniqueness of this offering was that it was consumed by fire.
And sin-offering - sin-offering was an offering or sacrifice made specifically for sin, with a view to expiate either sin in general, or some specific act of sin. In the Mosaic law there are two kinds of these offerings prescribed; "trespass-offerings," or offerings for guilt or fault, denoted by the word אשׁם 'âshâm; and sin-offering, denoted by the word used here. They are offerings which were consumed by fire, Leviticus 5:1-19; Leviticus 6:1-7; Leviticus 14:10. But the essential "idea" was that they were for "sin," or for some act of guilt. In a general sense, this was true of all bloody offerings or sacrifices; but in these cases the attention of the worshipper was turned particularly to the fact of sin or transgression.
Thou hast not required - That is, thou hast not required them as compared with obedience; in other words, thou hast preferred the latter. These offerings would not meet the case. More was necessary to be done than was implied in these sacrifices. They would not expiate sin; they would not remove guilt; they would not give the conscience peace. A higher work, a work implied in an act of "obedience" of the most exalted kind, was demanded in order to accomplish the work to be done. Compare Psalm 51:16.
on Psalms 40 :6