“because of my sin”

 

[Psalms 38:1-12]

 

As I read Pastor Junsu Kim's book ‘Healing of the Mind’, there is an saying that comes to my mind: ‘What we see on the surface is only a mask to cover our true self.  People think that if they are well-packed on the outside and are recognized by other people, their inner wounds and inferiority will be overlooked.’  Based on this saying, I wrote something under the heading ‘Wearing a Mask’:

 

When I make my true appearance sincerely and transparently, if I don’t have a friend

in the Lord who can accept me as I am, then I think my life is truly pitiful.  Eventually,

I wear my mask again and again and live by forgetting even my true self and by

becoming too accustomed to the life of the person that I am not.  What a pity if I am

still living like that.  I think more pitiful person is the one who is wearing a mask even

in front of Heavenly Father.   I think about how unfortunate it is to God if we go to God,

only cover ourselves with the form of godliness and pretend to be holy, to have good faith,

in order to worship Him.’

             

What is the problem?  The problem is that we are not honest with ourselves.  The problem is that we don't have the courage to face our own problems.

 

                When we face ourselves, we have to take a look at our own inner world by peeling it off as if we were peeling an onion.  In the midst of that, we must develop the ability to see ourselves from God's point of view.  This is never easy.  We must face our own problems and our own deeply hidden sins.  Then we can humbly accept what is happening in our lives because of our sins.  Furthermore, we can experience the discipline of God's love.

 

We are being disciplined by God for our sins.  So in Psalms 38:3, the psalmist David was disciplined by God “because of my sin,” so he asked God: “O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath” (v. 1).  Then, what was God’s discipline to David before of his sin?  I want to take a look at six things and take time to look back at my life as I see how terrible the consequences of my sin is.

 

First, God’s discipline is that His hand coming down upon me.

 Look at Psalms 38:2 – “For Your arrows have sunk deep into me, And Your hand has pressed down on me.”  The word “press” here is also found in Psalms 32:4, which we have already meditated on: “For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.”  I don't know what the phrase “heavy upon me” specifically means, but one thing is clear: God makes us confess our sins even through something like trouble (v. 3).  Perhaps the phrase “For your arrows have pierced me” is God's work of piercing our conscience with His word that is like His arrows so that we may confess our sins.

 

Second, God's discipline is physical pain.

 

                Look at Psalms 38:3, 7 – “Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin.  …  My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body.”  In these two verses, David repeatedly says,'There is no health in my body.'  This was because the wrath of the Lord came upon David because of his sin (vv. 1, 3).  Because of the wrath of the Lord, physical pain came upon David, and there is no health in his bones (v. 3).  Here, the phrase that there is no health in David’s bones means the extreme pain (Park).  Why do we sometimes have such a terrible pain like David?  David explains why in verse 4: “For my iniquities are gone over my head; As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me.”  Because of our many sins, we go through physical sufferings as His discipline in His wrath.  And that disciplines is like “a heavy burden” (v. 4).  The Bible describes our physical pains as the discipline of God because of our sins as follow: “My heart throbs, my strength fails me; And the light of my eyes, even that has gone from me” (v. 10).  Here, the phrase “My heart throbs” refers not pleasant feeling of faith, but unstable and confused heart (Park).  How can a guilty heart be pleasant?  That heart cannot but be unstable and confused.  Eventually, the heart that is confused by sin is bound to shake.  And the phrase “my strength fails me; And the light of my eyes, even that has gone from me” refers to the fact that David suffered severe hardships and darkened his eyes because of the physical discipline (Park).

 

Third, God’s discipline is “wounds” and “mourning”.

    

                Look at Psalms 38:5-6: “My wounds grow foul and fester Because of my folly.  I am bent over and greatly bowed down; I go mourning all day long.”  What I feel when I talk to my wife these days is that even though “joy” is a blessing from God, we cannot rejoice but are sad because of our sinful choices.  How painful is this?  Eventually, our hearts are hurting and we mourn because of our disobedience to His word.  Of course, the “wound” mentioned in verse 5 may refer to a physical wound rather than a broken heart.  But whether the “wounds” are physical or heart or both, the important thing is that the wounds “fester and are loathsome” (v. 5).  It can be seen that the psalmist David had been disciplined by God for a long time (Park).  We must recognize that the consequences of sin are terrifying when we imagine that we grieve in our wounds for a long time.  Dr. Yoonsun Park said, ‘His sorrow isn’t due to any unfortunate conditions in this world, but purely to the punishment of his sin’ (Park).  Although the sorrow of his punishment can be said God's discipline, it is indeed a beneficial sorrow for us.  These are beneficial tears that make us repent.

 

Fourth, God’s discipline is “anguish of heart”.

    

                Look at Psalms 38:8 – “I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart.”  After we have sinned, we feel the anguish of our hearts.  The unbelievers don’t feel this anguish.  Since they don’t regard sin as a sin, their hearts cannot be in anguish due to that sin.  However, since we the believers regard sin as a sin, we feel pains due to the consequence of our sin and we can be feeble and utterly crushed and groan in anguish of heart.  When I think about the comparison between the phrase “anguish of heart” (37:8) with Psalms 6:3, I think we can say that “my soul is greatly dismayed” (6:3).  This is the result of experiencing long-term suffering due to God's discipline.  I think this is a symptom (a phenomenon) of the mind that comes when we feel the limits of human patience as we experience the long-term suffering due to God’s discipline.  In this anguish of heart, we have no choice but to groan or sigh.  In Ezekiel 21:6, God commanded the prophet Ezekiel: “As for you, son of man, groan with breaking heart and bitter grief, groan in their sight.”  What was the reason?  It was “Because of the news that was coming” (v. 7).  The news refers to destruction.  What was the result of hearing that news of destruction?  “Every heart will melt and every hand go limp; every spirit will become faint and every knee become as weak as water” (v. 7).  We are feeble and utterly crushed and groan in anguish of heart because of our sins (Ps. 38:8).

 

Fifth, God’s discipline is to be in lonely in situation.

    

                Look at Psalms 37:11 – “My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away.”  It is truly God's terrible discipline.  I am sure it is very painful and difficult to go through physical pain, wounds and sorrows, and anguish of the heart.  But we feel lonely when people who are close to us turn away from us because of our sins.  This reminds me Job.  I am sure Job felt very lonely when his wife told him “Do you still hold fast your integrity?  Curse God and die!” (Job. 2:9) when he was going through the physical pain that was beyond our imagination.  When even his wife, the closest one, didn’t understand him and said the foolish thing to him, he had no choice but to be lonely.  Sin is such a scary thing.  Sin isolates a person completely.  I think God is cutting off all our family and friends who we rely on as His discipline in love.  

 

Sixth and last, God’s discipline is to allow our enemies to attach us.

    

                Look at Psalms 38:12 – “Those who seek my life set their traps, those who would harm me talk of my ruin; all day long they plot deception.”  This is the action of David's enemies.  His enemies tried to harm David by setting traps, talking about his ruin, and plotting deception.  Here, ‘setting their traps’ refers to an act of conspiracy to insidiously harm David, ‘talking about his ruin’ refers to talking about how to destroy David, and ‘plotting deception’ refers to a special examination to deceive David (Park).  If we look at Romans 1:24, 26, 28, there is a repeated word ‘gave them over’: “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity …” (1:24), “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions …” (v. 26) and “…  God gave them over to a depraved mind …” (v. 28).  When we make a sinful choice, God just gives us over to our sinful choose and thus go through the result of our sinful choice.  One of the things that He gives us over is that He allows us to be attacked by our enemies and don’t protect us. 

 

                What should we do when we receive these disciplines from God for our own sins?  We must pray to God.  We must repent our sins to Him.  Look at Psalms 38:9 – “All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.”  And when we repent our sins to Him, we must look to Jesus Christ, who was crucified “because of my sin” (v. 3).  Jesus, who was without sin, was crucified for all our sins.  Jesus suffered not only the physical suffering that we couldn’t imagine, but also the inner suffering, the suffering that He was forsaken by His own Heavenly Father.  Why did Jesus go through all these sufferings?  He did so in order to forgive our sins and save us.  Heavenly Father poured out His wrath on Jesus, His own begotten Son.  Therefore, we are forgiven of our sins.  Now we are no longer lonely.  The reason is because Jesus is always with us.  We don't have to be afraid anymore.  Since God is protecting us, who can attack us and hurt us?  Therefore, we look at Jesus who died on the cross, and move forward.

 

 

 

 

Meditating on the truth that Jesus suffered and died “because of my sin”,

 

 

 

James Kim

(Being grateful for His grace and love)