“Who forgives all your iniquity, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the Pit, Who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.”(RSV)
“It is as the apple tree among the trees of the wood, and its golden fruit has a flavour such as no fruit ever bears unless it has been ripened in the full sunshine of mercy.”1
The Psalmist here is David and it may be said that this was the apex of the benediction in David’s soul, in gratitude to God’s mercy. It is so because David fastens his praises in the deep sense of his sinful depravity. Oh how man has mastered the power of denial and fancied himself to be more than his heart tells him he is. When all the paraphernalia and lace he has draped himself in has been removed, it is his own heart that has deceived him, it is his own heart that has told him that he is something he is not. The prophet Jeremiah frankly reminds us of our desperation; “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?”(Jer. 17:9) Amazingly, even the mind is left to wonder at the complexity of evil that lies in the deep recesses of my heart. It lurks, it haunts the corridors and halls of the heart, it is cold and gradually, relentlessly draws colder and callous as his days linger. The heart of man is desperately wicked and we need to reflect seriously on the malice and hate that rushes across the courses of our thoughts. As the wisdom of the writer of Proverbs has told us; “As in water face reflects face, So a man’s heart reveals the man.” (Prov. 27:19)
But this is the backdrop for the splendor of God’s mercy. This grotesque depravity is the impetus for David’s awakening to the human frailty that plagues the flesh and soul of man and causes him to erupt into praises to God for the unfathomable brilliance of God’s mercy to him. David says in verses 1and 2; “Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits.” The great 19th century preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon has said; “Redemption will ever constitute one of the sweetest notes in the Believer’s grateful song.”2
So, in the great cosmic equation of the human soul, David says the comprehension of human depravity plus human frailty equals gratitude to God. It is in the context of this humility that God delights to pardon the iniquities of my soul and heals me of the diseases that have afflicted my heart. This is the notion of the Psalmist as he bursts into the exhilarative praises to God for His pardon, healing, redemption. So he says; “Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name.” (Ps. 103:1) The quiet puritan divine, John Flavel states it thus; “If light be pleasant to our eyes, how pleasant is that light of life springing from the Sun of righteousness! If a pardon be sweet to a condemned malefactor, how sweet must the poured out blood of Jesus be to the trembling conscience of a law-condemned sinner? If a rescue from a cruel tyrant be sweet to a poor captive, how sweet must it be to the ears of enslaved sinners to hear the voice of liberty and deliverance proclaimed by Jesus Christ?3”
Indeed, one can only struggle to imagine with David the great extent to which the sunshine of God’s mercy spreads if we remain shackled by the chains of deception and shrouded in the spiritual darkness of human pride. But if we acquiesce to sacrifice our pride and ignore the lies of a world bent on its own narcissistic lusts, then we find our place beside David in ebullitions of praise to God for the resplendence of His mercies. Here is the hymn of the soul who has found pardon and redemption at the hand of God’s mercy. Here is the paean of the one who has been crowned with the lovingkindness and compassion of the Sovereign of the universe. The brilliance of God’s mercy, like the sunburst in the midst of grey sky, bears unusual warmth and overwhelming brightness that though we might not look directly upon it, yet we find our great delight in Him. Do we boom out with utter abandonment in our praises of God’s mercy, or are our lips struck by the silence of obliviousness?
Dribble from the pen
The Rev. Ray Druckenmiller is the Pastor at Manning Community Church.