The Wonder of Forgiveness

For You, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive, rich in faithful love to all who call on You.—Psalm 86:5

Psalm 130:3 says, “Yahweh, if You considered sins … who could stand?” The psalmist is conscious of a great gulf that divides people from God, particularly himself, and he makes the assertion that if God kept a strict tally of mankind’s sins, there would be no hope for anyone. But then come the most beautiful and wondrous words in the Old Testament: “But with You there is forgiveness, so that You may be revered” (Psalm 130:4). The Living Bible paraphrases the verse like this: “But you forgive! What an awesome thing this is!”

Eight times the divine name “Lord” or “Yahweh” is used in this psalm, and as we observe how God is addressed we see what a difference knowing Him makes whatever plight we find ourselves in. He is addressed in the first couple of verses as the God who hears, and then, in verses 3 to 4, as the God who forgives. What a wonderful thing it is that God forgives. It is, as the Living Bible puts it, awesome.

As Christians we are so used to hearing about God’s forgiveness that we are in danger of taking it for granted. Heinrich Hein, when lying on his deathbed, was asked by a friend: “Do you think God has forgiven you?” Hein replied: “Of course God will forgive me. That’s His job.” I hope none of my readers will approach the subject of divine forgiveness with such cynicism. The fact that God forgives and forgets is something we will never fully understand, but it must never be taken for granted.

Prayer

O Father, forgive me if I have thought that divine forgiveness is just the result of Your doing Your job. Grant that my reaction to being forgiven will not be one of complacency but of constant reverence and holy awe. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 104:1-35; Eph 1:7; 1Jn 1:9

Why was the psalmist filled with praise?

How did he describe the removal of sins?

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