the Rev. David Freeman
Suffering and Sin: A Meditation on the Sixth Psalm
1 O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.
2 Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.
3 My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?
4 Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.
5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
6 I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.
7 Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.
8 Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.
9 The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.
10 Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.
God Is Not Cruel
But God's just judgment must never be looked upon as cruelty. Only self-righteousness and human depravity can charge God with such a thing. It is ascribing a sin of the creature to the holy and righteous Creator. How base is man so to regard God. There is, therefore, no need to ca!l on God to be just. He will not punish more than the offense demands. What He renders in His judgment is honorable.
Why, then, does David pray to be spared? Why does he not stand upon his feet like a man and take the penalty that is due him? "Coward!" says the boasting and proud man of the world. Only men who know not the awfulness of sin and the hell that awaits them can point the finger of scorn at the penitent soul. They know not that, should God give to a man his just deserts, destruction and the lake of fire would overtake him. Can a man's heart be so hard, is he so callous as not to fear the wrath of God for his sins? No, a man is not to be blamed for suing for mercy at the bar of God. It is the only thing he can do, if he is to have a chance to live.
Thank God a man is saved if he pleads only mercy from God, for He delights to show mercy, God will not despise a broken arid a contrite heart. Nothing lays hold upon God's graciousness as does the acknowledgment that there is no soundness in us, and that we cannot lift ourselves up. "The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them."
When we know not God's grace, then is He very far away indeed. Even our repentance cannot avail us anything, and all our calling He cannot hear. We must see His free offer of pardon in Jesus Christ, whom He gave to us to be the propitiation for our sins. All good comes to us from the reconciliation wrought for us on Calvary's cross. There the wrath of God was removed from us because the price of sin was paid by Him who knew no sin. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." Men shall never find the peace they need until they forget their supposed merits and flee unto the mercy of God in Jesus Christ.
God Is to be Praised
There wells up within the heart of one who knows that he has been delivered from sin by the favor of God a desire to praise Him. "What can he return unto the Lord for his lovingkindness?" is his constant inquiry. If there be no praise to God, then is there no salvation. See the heart of David. He laments that, should he be taken out of this world, he will not be able to praise God. Men will not be able to hear his praise to the Author of his salvation.
Are we not placed in this world to glorify God? The devout soul is pained at the thought of being deprived of this pleasure and joy, for the Redeemer is worthy to receive all honor and glory and blessing.
© 2022 The Orthodox Presbyterian Church