Hovering over Psalm 38 this morning. And talk about your desperate, seemingly unbearable situation! Israel’s poet is flat on the mat and not sure he can get up before the ten count. Or, to use a different metaphor, he feels like he’s going under for the third and final time.
He is sick! Like, really, really sick! “There is no soundness in my flesh,” he laments. He can’t stand up straight. He is racked with a raging fever. He’s nearly comatose, he can’t hear and can barely speak. Sounds like he might be infectious too, as his “friends and companions stand aloof from my plague.”
But wait! There’s more . . . The king’s pain is potentially his enemies’ gain. Those who seek his life are planning “treachery all day long” as they seek to “lay their snares” and “seek my hurt.”
Bottom line? “I am ready to fall,” pens the songwriter, “and my pain is ever before me.” Going under for the third time.
And here’s the thing, it’s not like he doesn’t know why this is happening to him.
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.
(Psalm 38:1-4 ESV)
Your anger. Your wrath. Because of Your indignation. Because of my sin.
We don’t know the specifics of the situation, but David, the man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), connects his distress with God’s discipline. He’s connected some dots between sowing seeds of fleshly desire and reaping a harvest of fleshly consequence.
My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness.
(Psalm 38:5 ESV)
And yet, his hope remains in the LORD.
But for You, O LORD, do I wait; it is You, O Lord my God, who will answer.
(Psalm 38:15 ESV)
And so, he confesses his iniquity. He says, “I am sorry for my sin” (38:18). And he cries out to the God who hears when the sinner prays.
Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!
(Psalm 38:21-22 ESV)
Can’t say I’ve suffered the physical consequence of sin as David did. But who hasn’t known the feeling of wasting away on the inside because of guilt? Of drowning in iniquity because the shame it brings seems too heavy a burden to bear? If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves (1Jn. 1:8).
But the Father disciplines those He loves. And the Son died for those who are His. And the Spirit convicts us of sin that we might repent. And the blood shed on Calvary is able to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Because the work He has begun in us He has promised He will complete (Php. 1:6).
So, we pray the sinner’s prayer,
. . . for You, O LORD, do I wait; it is You, O Lord my God, who will answer. O Lord, my salvation!
Because of His abundant grace.
To Him be everlasting glory.