1 Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Yahweh.
In spite of ourselves
We shall often have to reason sternly with our own weak and foolish hearts. We are liable to have a feeling that the matter depends in some way upon us. If we are well and lively and bright, then the Truth seems very real and true; but if we are down and dull and depressed, we are apt to feel that the Truth is not so true then. Let us say, Away, away with all such illusions.
The truthfulness of the Truth depends in no degree upon our feelings. It was true before we were born, and it will be true if we moulder in the dust. It is as true at this moment as when Israel were emerging from the trough of the Red Sea upon the other shore; or as when God caused His voice to be heard from the cloud capped summit of Sinai; or as when the walls of Jericho fell; or as when the fire consumed Elijah's water-drenched sacrifice on the top of Carmel; or as when Daniel stood unharmed among the lions; or as when the angelic host rejoiced on the plains of Bethlehem; or as when the crucified Jesus rose triumphant on the morning of the third day.
It is as independent of us as the shining of the sun. Do we fear that the sun will not rise if we oversleep ourselves? Will the ordinances of heaven and earth go wrong if we forget? No more will the purpose of God miscarry through our infirmity. Christ will come again, and the dead will rise, and the Kingdom will be established if we were to become unable at this moment to think another thought or speak another word.
In this connection we can enter into the language of the Psalm that has been read
"Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Yahweh."
In the depths we may often be. There is a need for it. It is only in the depths that we fully learn the lesson of our own insignificance; and until a man has learnt this, he is not fit for a place in the everlasting with God.
But there is a danger of being overdone in the process. We may be squashed out of all shape by the pressure of affliction. We may come to the conclusion there is no mercy, no hope, no salvation, because we feel so low and weak. This can only happen if we are trusting to ourselves. We may have to be brought very low to have this folly killed out of us: for it is folly.
We are only created beings, and creatures of conditions. We depend upon our bread and water. We can control nothing. No wonder that the proud and lofty are an abomination to God. Tribulation is useful in bringing down high and unreasonable thoughts. It is good if it does not destroy. It will not destroy if our trust is in God. It will rather help us to trust more and more in helping us to realise that creation in no sense belongs to us, and the purpose of the Creator in no sense depends upon us.
When we get so far as this we have peace - real peace. We can then say with David in this Psalm,
"I wait for Yahweh: my soul doth wait and in His word do I hope."
Our waiting will be both the waiting of patience and submission, and also the waiting of expectation and desire, as the Psalm goes on to express:
"My soul waiteth for the Lord, more than they that watch for the morning."
As the other Psalm has,
"As the eyes of servants look unto the hands of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress, so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God until that He have mercy upon us."
In this state of enlightened experience, we shall know the truth of that other axiom of the Spirit:
"Great peace have they that love Thy law: nothing shall offend them."
Seasons 2. 51
4 But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
It is forgiveness He proposes: and to forgive, we all know, is to let go: to pass by: to remember no more against, and to do this freely, and not because of satisfaction received.
...Seeing him thus, we see a fellow sufferer with us of the death that came by Adam, and therefore one who could righteously suffer on our behalf, as our representative, one who, though without sin himself, was a possessor of the nature that had come righteously under the power of death in the beginning of its history upon the earth.
We can therefore understand how his crucifixion was divinely intended to declare the righteousness of God "for the remission of sins that are past." We can understand how God in him thus "condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3), publicly, openly, ritually for all time: and thus established a meeting point for "propitiation through faith in his blood."
God asks men to look to Jesus crucified as the serpent-bitten Israelites looked at the elevated serpent of brass - that is, to look in faith; that is, to realise that our common nature was thus in him condemned; to recognize that they were crucified with him; to partake of that death and burial in baptism; and therefore to admit and confess that they are unworthy of approaching to God as sinners of Adam's race: that in themselves they have no hope, yea, that they are unworthy to live; and that the life that God will permit them to live is by His favour alone which He will extend to them -for Christ's sake," with whom He was well pleased, in whom there was no sin, though involved in the mortality of a sinful race, and whom He raised from the dead because of his righteousness, and gave him power to raise all who should come to God by him.
"God for Christ's sake has forgiven you."
The combined effect of all [the] sacrificial provisions of the law [of Moses] is to give ground of hope to all men who fear God and submit to His appointments. They may be erring and shortcoming, and a trouble to themselves because of their many imperfections: but if they are "humble and contrite of heart", and make confession of their sins in the name of Jesus, in whom all these sacrifices concentre as the end and substance foreshadowed, they may trust to be forgiven.
Law of Moses Ch 25