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O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O Lord—how long?
Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise?
I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes.
Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.
This is a penitential psalm. David is having trouble, maybe even sickness, but at the root of it is sin against God. That is not the cause of all illness of course, but in this case he is aware that his sin is at the root of his illness.
David is asking for God to deal with him with grace rather than with wrath
David is not asking for God to deal with him in anger and wrath as his sin deserves. He wants God to deal with him in grace. That is what happened on the cross. God dealt with His Son Jesus with the wrath and anger our sin deserved because Jesus was carrying our sin for us. All God’s anger and wrath was poured out on Jesus as He carried the sin of the world, past, present, and future, on Himself.
He deals graciously with us…and He dealt graciously with David…because He knew the cross was coming and that forgiveness was going to be taken care of for those in the past (like David), in the present, (like Jesus’ contemporaries), and like all of us who came after the cross.
Does dealing with sin in grace mean we ignore justice? NO. In fact, justice is part of the plan. In order for justice to be served, someone had to die to pay for your sin. That is what Jesus did. Grace gives you what you don’t deserve. Jesus paid for your sin and freely gave your forgiveness. There is no cost, charge or even penance we must pay.
Because of this, God was able to deal in grace with David’s sin in that way. He was able to forgive it as He looked forward to the cross. It is for that same reason we are able to forgive others who offend us and need our forgiveness. I’m not talking about simple little, minor things, that we can ignore. I’m talking about people who intentionally hurt us or purposely try to offend. These are people who are not easy to forgive. They may be people who are downright evil just as in Jesus’ day…and everything in between!
David goes on to describe his grief. This is grief over his sin, but it is grief from his trials brought on by his sin as well. It is often the trials brought on by our sin that push us to Christ. Of course, not all our trials are from our sin, but some of them are. It doesn’t take long to tell the difference. All of our trials come from living in a broken, fallen world however.
I wonder if that isn’t where David’s question comes from…”How long?” How long will sin be allowed to continue? How long will injustice be allowed to endure? Will evil men continue to prosper? But that is fleshed out more in other Psalms. The underlying question is: How long before you are going to come, Lord Jesus? How long before this broken world will be put right and the new heavens and the new earth will be created where we will be eternally with you?
That has been a question of God’s people down through the ages. Even so, come Lord Jesus.