Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me. Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me. For troubles surround me—too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage. Please, Lord, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me. Psalm 40:11-13 (NLT)
In this Psalm King David is counting on God to show up! The king acknowledges his sins have piled up so high – they’ve finally overtaken every part of his life. If God, in His mercy, cannot, or will not rescue David, well, it’s all over!
Desperately overwhelmed the king is asking for the “tender mercies” of God’s forgiveness. The picture is of how a mother’s womb cradles and cherishes the unborn.
But the very fact that David’s writing survived 3,000 years indicates the community of faith has affirmed just what David counted upon – the king’s sins were no match for the forgiveness of God.
Scottish preacher/pastor Alexander MacLaren said of this Psalm:
So then, there are two series of things which cannot be numbered, God’s mercies, man’s sins.
Anyone who has ever uttered that promise to God, Lord, please forgive me, with the sincerest intention that, if God does actually forgive me I will never do that again…has also experienced the failure of….doing that, again!
David understands his own instability (lack of truth) compared to that of God, who is faithful and true, always. When he asks, Please, LORD, rescue me, he is using legal language that says, in effect: Satisfy this sin-debt of mine.
In this short passage we see the chief question of the New Testament Apostles when Jesus spoke of truth and righteousness, the character needed in one who pleases God; they asked, who then can be saved? Who can be THAT righteous and holy?
And the trap goes on; our sins forgiven…then we fall again…sins forgiven…fallen…sins forgiven…fallen….and on, and on! Where does it end? Like King David caught in this trap we cry out, I can’t see a way out; I’m swamped, overwhelmed, doomed.
Does this describe where you are today?
For you, today
Let me share with you what I found to be true in my life. It’s from Alexander MacLaren’s sermon on the Two Innumerable Series:
There is a limit and a number to my sins and to yours, but God’s mercies are properly numberless. They overlap all our sins, they stretch beyond our sins in all dimensions. They go beneath them, they encompass them, and they will thin them away and cause them to disappear. My sins may be many, God’s mercies are more. My sins may be inveterate, God’s mercy is from everlasting. My sins may be strong, God’s mercy is omnipotent. My sins may seem to ‘have laid upon me,’ God can rescue me from their grip. They are a film on the surface of the deep ocean of His love. My sins may be as the sand which is by the seashore, innumerable, the love of God in Jesus Christ is like the great sea which rolls over the sands and buries them. My sins may rise mountains high, but His mercies are a great deep which will cover the mountains to their very summit. Ah! my sin is enormous, God’s mercy is inexhaustible.