“Do not remember against us our former iniquities;
let your compassion come speedily to meet us,
for we are brought very low.
Help us, O God of our salvation,
for the glory of your name;
deliver us, and atone for our sins,
for your name’s sake!
Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants
be known among the nations before our eyes!”
The more I read scripture, the more I realize the importance of context.
Take this scripture, for example. Psalm 79 is not one of those “feel-good” scriptures. According to the ESV Study Bible commentary, it is a “community lament, which was occasioned by a great disaster that fell upon Jerusalem.” It is the peoples’ plea for mercy, penned by the psalmist Asaph.
Picture it in your mind: A great disaster, most likely a wartime invasion. The holy temple laid in ruins. The blood of the saints poured out like water. God’s people are taunted; they are mocked. They are no longer regarded as God’s people. They no longer bear His mark.
In rage and despair, the Israelites cry out: You love us more than this, God. Save us! We are your people! What happened to favor? What happened to protection, anointing, calling? What happened, God?
Well, well, well. Sound familiar, doesn’t it?
We must be very careful how we read this text. Like going grocery shopping when we’re hungry, we might put more into the cart than we should. Reading this from a place of hurt or pride might led us to blame God for this tragedy. But if we read with a humble and contrite heart, we notice a teensy very important detail in verse 8.
The people of Israel aren’t so innocent after all.
“Do not remember against us our former iniquities; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low.”
The ESV Study Bible elaborates:
“Running through the psalm is a recognition that, just as by reason of the covenant, Israel expects God to treat them differently than he treats the other nations, so too Israel should live faithfully to that covenant. The disaster came because Israel did not embrace the covenant in true faith; the psalm confesses that, asks for forgiveness, and pledges renewed faithfulness.”
How many times have we done this? How often do we live as friends of the world, yet expect to be treated as a friend of God? We adulterous people! Do we not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?
Friends, favor goes both ways. If we want the favor of the Lord, we must also favor the Lord. We must favor Him above everything else. We must follow the law of the New Testament: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.
But…what if we just, don’t?
What if we want to love the Lord our God with all we are, but we find ourselves continuing to fall in a particular area? What if, like Paul in Romans 7, we do not do the good that we want, but the evil we do not want is what we keep on doing?
If so, we are not alone.
What might be this evil we keep on doing?
It might be a secret habitual sin. It might be a dangerous thought pattern. It might be hurtful words we say or actions we inflect upon ourselves or others.
Whatever it is – you know.
May I suggest that you let someone else know, too?
Accountability is a gift. It is not chains – is freedom. As my dear friend says, the narrow road leads to wide open spaces. We won’t learn to favor the Lord above all else without the help of our sisters in Christ. We must cut off our pride and let others in.
Beloved, there is no shame in needing an increased level of support in a particular area. He loves you just the same, no matter what sin you struggle with. But when you passionately pursue freedom, it reveals just how much you love Him.
For…“God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Father, we need You. We need your favor, your grace, your anointing, your blessing. Let us live in the light of your love in obedience to all that You command. Bring the appropriate accountability partner into our lives, and protect those relationships by the power of your spirit. You are worthy of all that we are. We love you. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!