The following is one of the lessons for the second week of Lent from the small group study we are doing at our church entitled Christ in the Psalms. You can purchase the entire study for 99 cents on Amazon.com at this link
Read Hebrews 10:1-10
One of the primary concerns in the Epistle to the Hebrews is to argue that Jesus is our sacrifice and our high priest who has inaugurated a new covenant with us by his blood. By his own sacrificial death, he has ascended into heaven thereby entering the true heavenly tabernacle or Holy of Holies where he intercedes for us continually. As a result of Christ’s continual intercession as our priest, animal sacrifice has been rendered unnecessary as a part of our new covenantal relationship with God. Instead, we are called to offer the sacrifices of faithful obedience and praise. By the time we reach chapter 10, the author of Hebrews is coming to the climax of this argument.
Given that Hebrews wants to emphasize that faithful obedience and praise are more important than animal sacrifice, we can see why the author would turn to Psalm 40. We saw in our previous lesson that Psalm 40 is focused precisely on these two things; faithful obedience and praise, even to the point of denigrating the role of animal sacrifice. As a faithful Jew, the author of Psalm 40 surely was not encouraging others to stop offering animal sacrifices at the temple. His point is simply that its not really the sacrifices themselves that God wants but the trust and obedience represented in the offering of those sacrifices. The author of Hebrews takes the argument further than the Psalmist probably intended and argues that faithful obedience renders animal sacrifice completely unnecessary.
What is even more interesting is that Hebrews takes these words attributed to David and says that it is Christ who speaks them (10:5, when Christ came into the world, he said...). Hebrews presents Psalm 40 as words spoken by Jesus to God. In this speech to God, Jesus acknowledges that it is not animal sacrifice the Father wants. Instead, God has prepared a body for Jesus which will become the proper sacrifice through Jesus’ own faithful obedience.6 Hebrews declares that by Christ speaking the words of this Psalm, he has set aside the first covenant involving animal sacrifice and established a new covenant based on Jesus’ faithful obedience.