March 26, 2020 by Steven Lulich
It was 1992, and I was home at Cypress Lane #28. Years earlier, my parents had acquired a cassette tape of country gospel music. As a twelve-year-old, I decided it was time that I memorized all the lyrics for all of the songs on that tape.
Well, all except that song. I used to fast-forward through that song. The song itself was beautiful, full of rich theology, and very moving. “He gave up His throne to stand alone, to offer the greatest love we’ll ever see. The suffering Son whispered ‘It’s done’; He gave all of Him for all of me.” That was the chorus, and it was easy to memorize. It was the two verses that bothered me. I puzzled over the fact that the verses bothered me – after all, they were just as true and just as lovely. But I didn’t want to puzzle too much. I fast-forwarded past it. The first half of the second verse particularly irked me. “His justice demands my confession. The Word says He came to set sinners free.” Confession? But that’s what sinners have to do! Of course, I knew I was also a sinner, but I simply refused to own it. I put it out of my mind. I fast-forwarded on to the next song, or maybe even to the one after that – a fun, energetic song about Noah escaping God’s judgement on sinners. Ironic, huh?
Thanks be to God that He was bigger than my sin, more patient than my stubbornness, and more persistent than my waywardness. Through the years that followed, He sought me out until I was finally ready to submit myself before His righteous judgement.
I think the Psalmist knew something of this experience. After all, he also knew the Lord, he knew the Law, and he gloried in it. Psalm 119 is an extended song of praise to God, in adoration of God’s Law and God’s righteousness. If you read through just the last couplet in each of its 22 stanzas, you will find statements like these:
“I will run in the way of your commandments / when you enlarge my heart!” (v. 32)
“This blessing has fallen on me, / that I have kept your precepts.” (v. 56)
“May my heart be blameless in your statutes, / that I may not be put to shame!” (v. 80)
“Through your precepts I get understanding; / therefore I hate every false way.” (v. 104)
“I incline my heart to perform your statutes / forever, to the end.” (v. 112)
“Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right; I hate every false way.” (v. 128)
“I keep your precepts and testimonies, / for all my ways are before you.” (v. 168)
I keep your precepts; I hate every false way. Then there are these two:
“My flesh trembles for fear of you, / and I am afraid of your judgments.” (v. 120)
“I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, / for I do not forget your commandments.” (v. 176)
I fear your judgements; I have gone astray. My reality does not line up with – does not live up to – my knowledge. Oh, that You would seek your servant!
Perhaps you, too, know something of this experience. Have you resisted God’s call for confession in your life? Have you wandered from the good Way and now find yourself to be a lost sheep? Or have you simply become distracted and forgotten just how wonderful and good and glorious and lovely God is, that He sought you? Whatever your story may be, remember that “His justice demands my confession. The Word says He came to set sinners free.” Praise be to God!