I was asked to write a blog post this summer about a Psalm that I felt I was living in. I thought I’d post it on here too. Here’s what I came up with:
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I KNOW my transgressions and my sin is ever before me.”- Psalm 51:1-3
This summer has been rough in some ways. Not in every way of course. I have spent the entire summer in a tourist destination, hiking on volcanoes, soaking in hot springs, touching glaciers, and chasing waterfalls. But, of course you can’t run away from your problems…especially when you’re the problem.
We have spent the summer in Reykjavik, Iceland helping support our church plant here. Our family of six has shared a small dorm-room type living situation, which means we have rubbed shoulders A LOT the past eight weeks. Literally. There’s something about living in such small quarters with small children (with echoing acoustics) that can really bring out the worst in a person. Or maybe it’s just me.
When I picked this Psalm to write on, I did so with reluctance. I mean, I didn’t exactly want to be put in the same category as David, the adulterer and murderer. I wanted to think of myself as better than that.
“For I KNOW my transgressions and my sin is EVER before me.”
Historically, I haven’t intimately known my transgressions, which is dangerous because it leads to self-righteousness. I would say that I’ve been blind to my sin, but that sounds a little too passive. Maybe I’ve willfully chosen to overlook it.
A major theme of this summer has been the second part of Psalm 51:3: “…and my sin is EVER BEFORE ME.” So much sin has been revealed recently that it seems I’m practically tripping over it. I can hardly make it through ten minutes and my husband is pointing out an attitude or an action that is ungodly.
“Can’t you just let it slide?” I’ve found myself inwardly sneering. One day–when I actually said it out loud– he responded, “But, if you knew you had cancer cells, would you really want me to ‘just let it slide’?”
This summer, I have felt this battle acutely…this battle to kill the flesh, to understand rather than be understood, to serve rather than be served, to encourage rather than criticize, to listen rather than talk, to submit rather than argue, to give thanks rather than complain, to cultivate contentment rather than be jealous, and to give love rather than to suck love.
It’s been painful to realize how much I give in to my flesh. It’s humbling for my sin to be “ever before me.” And it’s blinding when it’s finally exposed.
Like the Psalmist, I am learning—slowly and painfully–just how deeply sinful I am. I am no better than a murderer. In fact, according to sweet and candid Jesus, I am one (Matthew 5:21-22).
We mustn’t be surprised by our sin. When confronted with our failures, instead of justifying or blaming or evading or blowing up in anger or collapsing into self-pity and depression, we should look hard at this sin that grieves the heart of God. “Against you, and you only, have I sinned…”
The solution is repentance…good, old-fashioned repentance. “Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.”
So this blog post is one long “Note-To-Self” reminding me that I was “brought forth in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me.” I am that sinful needs to be tattooed on my arm or at least on my soul. And when faced with my sin, my prayer should echo my fellow murderer: “Let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sin, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
Have you ever felt like you’ve been living IN a Psalm? If so, which one and why?