Psalm 139 Part 4
The Forgiveness of Grace
“Many of us have a mental picture of what a Christian should be, and looking at this image in other Christians’ lives becomes a hindrance to our focusing on God.” Oswald Chambers
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
Old Testament and New Testament. Old Covenant and New Covenant. Before God’s redemption through Jesus. After God’s redemption through Jesus.
The Old Covenant was about earning God’s favor. An eye for an eye. Reward and punishment.
Had God not decided to wipe our past away and give the gift of a new beginning; had Jesus not been willing to redeem us and bring us and all of creation back into a personal relationship with God, we would be stuck in that Old Covenant paradigm. We would be stuck trying to obey the religious laws of men with outward earning.
Does it mean we no longer have to obey God’s commands? Of course not. But Jesus gave them deeper meaning and countermanded the man-made amendments to God’s original laws through inward desire.
Matthew 5:43-44 You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Matthew 6:33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 28:20 Teach them to do everything I have commanded you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
1 John 4:15-16, 18 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
The disharmony in these verses of David’s psalm mirror our own journey. We are awestruck by the grandeur of God’s creation. We acknowledge his thoughts and ways are outside the box of our own human logic. We praise him for his protection and provision. But with the same tongue, we spew hate and judgment upon those we decide are not worthy of God’s love. We determine if one hates God today, he will always hate God and therefore, we must hate him, too, rather than praying for his redemption.
James 3:8-10 [The tongue] is a restless evil full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
Yet David realizes what we do not: in asking God to curse his enemy, he must now reflect upon his own actions and qualities, for he has also displeased God and caused him grief. He prays to God, asking him to expose any grievous way (aspects of his character that lead to grief), and set him on the right path.
Asking God to search our own hearts, to know our own thoughts is an invitation to be completely vulnerable and humble to God. It is the first step to surrender. Let’s get real: God knows our thoughts and our hearts anyway. He waits for us to stop dog paddling in the ocean of his love. He waits for us to turn onto our backs, open ourselves completely to him, and allow him to transform us with his grace.
Psalm 13:5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.