“Let us wonder! / Grace and justice / Join and point to mercy’s store. / When in grace through Christ our trust is, / Justice smiles and asks no more.”- John Newton
“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.”- Psalm 130: 1-2 (NIV)
Timothy Keller continues Chapter 4 of Forgive as he examines the first four things Psalm 130 teaches us about the Old Testament view of forgiveness. The psalm teaches us about:
1. The universal need for forgiveness. To ‘stand’ (v. 3) spiritually, Pastor Keller states, means to be acceptable to God in general. Or to stand ‘in the judgment’. Certainly, everyone sins. But that’s no news to anyone. Rather, this psalm teaches that everyone finds themselves spiritually alienated from God. Due to sin, no one can ‘stand’.
2. The problem of forgiveness. Sins create a record, so they don’t just pass into the air and vanish. Sins leave a residue of liability or obligation.
3. The fact of God’s forgiveness. Psalm 130 stresses the fact of God’s forgiveness. However, this fact astonishes the psalmist. And at the end of the psalm, the writer stresses his belief in
God’s full redemption. Although the basis remains unrevealed to him.
4. The inward result of God’s forgiveness. In a striking statement, the psalmist asserts that forgiveness, pardon, and grace lead to an increased ‘fear’ of the Lord. But, when most people read that passage today, they read it as a negative. They think of someone who’s trembling and afraid.
However, in the Old Testament the true sense of the ‘fear of the Lord’ implies relationship. In conclusion, Pastor Keller explains:
“It is especially interesting to realize that this ‘fear’ is paradoxical. The more we experience grace and forgiveness and love, the more we leave ourselves behind . . . . When we really understand that we are forgiven, it does not lead to ‘loose living’ or independence but to respectful surrender to his sovereignty.”
Today’s question: What does it mean to you that “grace and justice join and point to mercy’s store”? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “The message of the prophets”