A.W. Tozer said, “We weren’t given the Bible as a substitute for God; rather it is supposed to lead us right to the heart of God.” And God’s heart is one that woos us back to Himself to give us the Second Chance. He holds out mercy and forgiveness to us continuously while calling us back to a lifestyle of repentance, holiness and love and His Heart is on display in His Word. The Psalms have a unique quality in that they display the heart of God while simultaneously they become windows into our own souls. As John Calvin comments “we are certain that God puts [His] words in our mouths, as if He Himself were singing in us to exalt His glory.” The Psalms of Repentance (aka The Second Chance Psalms) is a name designation dating from the sixth century A.D. given to Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143 which are specially expressive of godly sorrow for sin and rich in God’s heart of mercy and consolation to draw us back to be satisfied in His love.
Psalm 130 is one of these Second Chance Psalms and was probably Martin Luther’s favorite. Here the Psalmist finds himself overwhelmed with adversity and passionately begs the Lord for deliverance. As he prays, he acknowledges that he is being justly chastised by the hand of God. He doesn’t innocently find himself in trouble instead, he is in a mess of his own making. This is not a trial which came out of nowhere. Conventional wisdom and sadly even many churches would say to him, “you’ve made your bed and now you have to lie in it.” He passionately begs the Lord for deliverance and finds hope because God is the everlasting deliverer of His people and has always shown Himself ready to extend mercy and rescue even from the worst of self-inflicted circumstances. Take a moment to savor this Psalm.
A Song of Ascents.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.
Do we sometimes get caught up in placing our hope in our conservative or liberal way of looking at Theology, the Bible, Politics and the World and miss the main thing? I think sometimes we place our too much faith in our ideological lenses which influence our vision, magnify some issues over others and curb our fears (whatever they may be). We can talk too much about “being conservative” or “being liberal” or even “being moderate” that we sometimes fail to come back to a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. What has me thinking about this today is my study of a righteous and devout man from Jerusalem named Simeon who was waiting for God to console Israel’s sorrows and met a six-week old Baby Jesus, as he was promised, before he died.
Simeon was part of a group of people called “The Quiet in the Land” who had a unique way of viewing the Coming of the Kingdom of God. Unlike the Pharisees (the conservatives or “religious right” of the day) who believed if Israel would only keep the Law perfectly for one day the Kingdom would come. And unlike the Sadducees (the liberals or progressives of the day) who were not so much interested in the kingdom as they were motivated by influencing public policy so that they might retain their wealth and political influence. “The quiet in the land” (neither conservative or liberals) thought of the Kingdom in terms of quiet devotion to God through prayer and patience. Through spiritual eyes they saw the depth of Israel’s lost state and spiritual sadness and knew that only the Lord’s Messiah could bring them deep happiness. Only a small number of these folks are known to us namely: Simeon, Anna, Zechariah, Elizabeth, John the baptist, Mary, Joseph and perhaps their families.
So while nearly the whole nation of Israel was unbelieving and even irreligious (much like today) and the religious denominations were either morally self-righteous or politically self-righteous (no wonder they rejected him) there remained a small remnant of sincere followers of Yahweh whose hope was simply placed in the coming of the King to establish His Kingdom. We can learn a lot from Simeon, a righteous and devout man of no reputation, a societal oddball, neither “a liberal” nor “a conservative” but one who was waiting for the consolation of Israel with sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians 11:3 strikes my heart today, “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” Let’s not be led astray from devotion to Christ even by our well-intentioned religious and political orientations.