Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart. This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.
I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.
11 As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!
12 For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me.
In our earlier passage, David declared his “nots”. Just as a reminder, let’s review them
I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD.
I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
David is confident that the Lord will not restrain His mercy from him. I find it somewhat interesting that the prophet used the same negative terminology for both the Lord and his own actions, that is, that restraint was not carried out.
Restraint implies a restriction, an unwillingness, a loss of freedom, inhibition. Both David and the Lord are free to exercise their respective actions. David has freedom to share the goodness of God. The Father is free to exercise mercy in David’s experience.
But that brings up a question for my readers.
- Is David linking his freedom to share with the congregation, with God finally able to exercise mercy to him?
- In other words, is the Lord free to exercise mercy in every and all circumstances? Or is He restricted upon our actions?
Comment below with your thoughts.
Let’s continue. David proceeds into verse 12 with a litany of overwhelming perils. Let’s look them one at a time.
Wickedness surrounding me
David confessed he had enemies all about. Friends, acquaintances or sworn enemies, he realized wickedness was prevalent outside of his own person. We know of this trial in our own lives, as we realize that many in our lives may would seek to take advantage of us, harm us or at the least sideline us to make us of no effect.
Iniquities within me
David was realizing that external forces were not his only problem.
If he lived in a utopian kingdom, where all was love and kindness, no wickedness or evil intent possible, He would still have an enemy. As Pogo, a cartoon character of 50 years ago quipped, “We have met the enemy and he is us”
David realized his own inner wickedness, selfishness, self deceit and weakness. This I find to be the hardest truth for the average Christian to accept (it is for me!) and the most difficult to discuss. We tend to exaggerate either extreme. Some may state that sin is not resident in their lives, thereby experiencing spiritual perfection. I don’t meet many believers of this doctrinal stance, that is sinless perfection, yet I fear there are many that believe they may have attained to it without verbally expressing it!
The other extreme is complete and utter evil only lurking in the heart of man. This seems to have much Scriptural backing, and my calvinist brothers would claim it is the reason for their gospel message. (Without this key lynch pin holding their theology together, the logical system they have built crashes to the ground).
Although I spent decades in this thinking, I have come to understand that wickedness resides in me alongside a desire to know God, a desire to seek him and know him. As an experiential knowledge of my own heart, I understand that my own witness is not to be trusted. Therefore, I would appreciate my readers to comment on this topic – the heart of man and it’s condition.
It is instructive though, that David states “my iniquities have overtaken me.” He does not say that his entire being is only sinful, iniquitous, evil, hateful and dastardly. Of course I am being extreme here, but I hope you get my point. (I have always wanted to use the word dastardly in my blog – now I have!)
No vision to guide me out
David claims blindness. He cannot see. Of course we are not to take this literally. He is speaking of his trials, his situation. He is looking for a way out, but with external and internal enemies, there is no escape, no where to run for safety. His back is up against a wall, and he is realizing the wall is also a foe.
Nope, As my momma used to say “He is up the crik without a paddle stick!”
How many hair reside on your head? Innumerable, uncountable. Why count them when there are so many. This is the sense I get as David describes his sins to God. It is hopeless!
As we have mentioned in our blog earlier, the Hebrew poets would repeat a thought in the next stansa, using this devise to explain or amplify the previous thought. David is dwelling on his internal iniquities when speaking of the innumerable sins he is recounting.
His heart fails. No hope, no escape, no relief, no release, nothing that would give encouragement for the future. That is, if we did not have the foundation of God’s promise in the verse above.
As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!
The foundation of God’s mercy, steadfast love and faithfulness is what David finds hope in. He will venture into this great hope in our next blog, dealing with verses 13 – 15.
I hope you can join me as a hopeless situation finds light shone on it! And hopefully, we can see our own situations in like manner, where the Lord Jesus will bring light to our situation and provide deliverance and help in time of need.
Thanks for joining me in this venture through the Psalms. I rarely express my gratitude for your attention to my ruminations. Thanks again, and I look forward to your comments.
May God bless you and keep you in His love.
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