There Is Forgiveness

Sunday, August 31, 1997

Psalm 130:3,4

    If thou, O Lord, shouldst mark iniquities,
      Lord, who could stand?

    But there is forgiveness with thee,
      that thou mayest be feared.

Psalm 130 is commonly classified as one of the "penitential psalms." The author cries to God "out of the depths." In this particular case the author's agony apparently springs from a sense of moral failure. This is no doubt partly personal, though verses 7 and 8 of the psalm suggest that he is also thinking of the failures of God's people as a whole.

Many people think of God as a judge who has given us a law to follow for our own good (e.g. the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount). If we make the grade we will be rewarded (hopefully the pass mark is not more than 50{8395b6ce96fcf25a14d80edc3b65c36a8995b6c1ba5f8c16ac11d8adaa79f35b}); if we flunk the course we're sunk. The psalmist sees only too clearly that if we get what we deserve we cannot stand; we're floored. Our only hope lies in God's forgiveness, something that we see even more clearly than the psalmist did, because we see it demonstrated and actualized in the cross of Christ.

The awareness that God is willing and able to forgive us does not lead to moral complacency, however. It leads to "fearing," i.e. reverencing, respecting, following, obeying God. God's forgiveness doesn't just free us from the past; it frees us for the future.

Prayer: Lord, we are only too well aware of our personal failures and of the failures of your church, of which we are part. Forgive us, we pray, and grant us the grace of a fresh start so that, fearing you, we may gladly serve you all our days. Amen.

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About the author:

Charles Scobie
Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada

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