Hey, so remember last week how the psalmist messed up big time? Well, it happened again.
"O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath! For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me. There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness, I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning. For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart. O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me. My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague, and my nearest kin stand far off. Those who seek my life lay their snares; those who seek my hurt speak of ruin and meditate treachery all day long. But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear, like a mute man who does not open his mouth. I have become like a man who does not hear,and in whose mouth are no rebukes. But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me, who boast against me when my foot slips!” For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me. I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin. But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty, and many are those who hate me wrongfully. Those who render me evil for good accuse me because I follow after good. Do not forsake me, O Lord! O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!
The first time I read this, I was just like, dang. Those straight up are the depths from last week and I was honestly just stuck there. I was having a hard time getting out of all of this suffering and it really brought me down. The more I have read it though and dug around in some of my husband's fancy resources, I've picked up on a few themes. Let's break this thing up and get to the heart of what's actually going on.
- SIN & SUFFERING: Alright, whoever says that suffering goes away once you become a Christian HAD to have skipped this Psalm. The Psalmist goes into detail for twelve verses, describing his physical and emotional pains. These each hold their own weight, but I think that the brunt of it is the loneliness and isolation that he feels. We see from verse 11 on that he is in fact separated from his friends and fam, but look at verse 21 and read it in that context, too. "Do not forsake me, O Lord! O my God, be not far from me!" What the psalmist is actually longing for is relationship with God Himself.
- JUDGEMENT: So, we see from the first two verses that the reason for the suffering is actually because of God. What? Because of God, the psalmist is enduring all of the suffering that he describes in verses 3-10. Sometimes that's hard to swallow. I remember the first time that I struggled with that I read the book of Job. God allows Job to suffer in order to teach Job. When we read here though, verses 4 and 5 specifically, we see that the judgement that incurs is specifically a result of the sin of the psalmist.
- GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS: The only way that what I stated above can even make sense is when and if we actually step back and take a look at our sin-condition and detach ourselves from the world view of what defines "good" and "bad" and instead, look to Jesus. When we magnify our view of God and decrease our view of ourselves, we see that God is actually worthy of being the Judge and the Discipliner.
- CONFESSION & REPENTANCE: Verses seventeen and eighteen bring me back to a moment of my own rebellion--I had left the church and I thought I left Jesus, too. After many long, lonely, hopeless nights, I found myself longing for Him again. I felt hopeless and I was suffering but I was ready to fall. I was ready to crash into my Daddy's arms. I told Him the things I had felt so ashamed of and cried in His presence. He showed me that He had never left me, and that rather he was with me, enduring for me the whole time.
- DELIVERANCE: Lastly, there is deliverance. In verses 21 & 22 the psalmist is asking for God to draw near and save him. In verse 15, he explains how he's confident that no matter how long he must wait, God will answer his prayers. In the same way, we can call to God to help us and deliver us with the certainty that we will come to fullness in Christ Jesus Himself.
For through the cross, Jesus took on that sin, and all the brutality of that suffering. In His death he literally took on God's
judgement...the judgement we deserve. His resurrection proves that His sacrifice was enough and is worthy of our trust. Therefore, all we have to do is believe that His righteousness is the righteousness we need, to confess and repent of the ways we fall short, and to fall into his arms, knowing He will catch us.
Let us rest there.