“For evils have encompassed me beyond number…” (Psalm 40:12a)
This is life in a broken world. Bitterness. Wrath. Anger. Slander. Malice. Lies. Murder. Deceit. Grief. Pain. Tears. Sorrow. Regret. Hate. Cold. Brokenness.
Yes, evil is all around.
I have no problem in a broken world crying out—“Lord, have mercy. Lord, deliver. Lord, rescue. Lord, heal. Lord, bring redemption”. I know He is greater than the brokenness. I know that He is able to heal. I know that He will bring justice. Sometimes, it is hard to wait on the Lord in the midst of brokenness—but I keep a steady hope knowing that He will make it well.
But what do I do when this is my prayer:
“…my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me.” (Psalm 40:12b)
Now, it’s not merely evil “out there”. I can deal with that. But when evil is found lurking in my very own breast, what do I do?
Do I plead for mercy, knowing that I’ve prayed this same prayer countless times? Surely, the LORD is sick of hearing my confession. I have certainly breached the seventy times seven.
Do I come boldly into His throne room? Soiled. Dirty. Vile. Proud. Confused. Disbelieving.
Clean Hands? Pure Heart? Not me. How then can I expect to “ascend His holy hill”? What right do I have—one who has trampled upon grace—to enter into His courts?
“As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! (Psalm 40:11, emphasis mine)
There is no way that I read that correctly.
I cannot fathom this. What does unrestrained mercy from an infinitely merciful God look like?
Soiled. Dirty. Vile. Proud. Confused. Doubting. Struggling. Depressed. Joyless.
He refuses to restrain that which I do not deserve: namely, infinite mercy. Yet, His holy hand withholds the infinite wrath that I do deserve.
Why? What is the ground and the surety of this promise?
Is it my ability to keep clean? Is it my ability to live the Christian life? Is it because of my steadfastness? My faithfulness to the Lord? Is this what causes me to be met with unrestrained mercy?
It is His covenant faithfulness. His steadfast love.
If I, by grace through faith, belong to Jesus then this promise of unrestrained mercy is mine. And it is preserved until God breaks His covenant or until God’s love that refuses not to love changes and He decides He’d rather not love. That’s not happening. The ground and surety of this promise is His faithfulness and not mine.
In this I have hope and it causes me to pray with David:
“As for me I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!”
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