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A cry for help

LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Psalm 38.1

The third of the Penitential Psalms begins with what looks like a plea for mercy on account of God's harsh judgment. However, as the song progresses it becomes apparent that the Psalmist's (David?) suffering is self-induced. On account of its location ("my loins are filled with burning") it may be the result of sexual misconduct. But it could be any deviant behaviour, whose consequences bring misery to body and mind.

The Bible assures us that God created well when he made the world and filled it with creatures. Problems arose when those he made in his own image - ie us - disobeyed him, preferring our own indulgence to his guidance. And so the moral collapse continues - at all levels: from the decision to wage war unjustly to the lifestyle choices with which we poison our own bodies.

This may be why David turns to God for mercy. It is his way of acknowledging that he cannot help himself. Can any of us? If we're honest, not completely. That is why we need a Saviour. And that is why the kindest thing we can do is commend that Saviour to every other suffering sinner we know or may encounter.



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