Running to God - Reflections on Psalm 38
April 22, 2017
When the grain came to the temple as an offering, a tenth of it was burned on the altar as a memorial offering. The rest was consumed by the priests. This was a song to be sung for the memorial offering.
I am confused, I must say, not by the offering and not by the sentiments of the psalm, but by the point of connection.
Of these words and emotions, Matthew Henry comments, "Nothing will disquiet the heart of a good man so much as the sense of God's anger. The way to keep the heart quiet, is to keep ourselves in the love of God. But a sense of guilt is too heavy to bear; and would sink men into despair and ruin, unless removed by the pardoning mercy of God."
So, what is a good man or woman to do?
He or she runs to God in worship -- whatever outlet of worship is available and thrusts the guilt and all the accompanying insecurity, despair, depression, feelings and reality of persecutions, and anything connected or perceived to be connected to sin before God.
The direction of the psalmist's life was toward God. The path was crooked and broken, but the direction was consistent.
He dealt honestly with his failures and his guilt and never grew callous or insensitive toward his flaws. Nor did he take God's mercy for granted or ever think, for a moment, that he could live without it.
"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!"
(Psalm 38 ESV)