DayBreaks for 5/06/16 – Confession and Grace
From the DayBreaks archives, May 2006:
Psalms 66:9-12, 18 (NLT) – Our lives are in his hands, and he keeps our feet from stumbling. You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver melted in a crucible. You captured us in your net and laid the burden of slavery on our backs. You sent troops to ride across our broken bodies. We went through fire and flood. But you brought us to a place of great abundance…If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, my Lord would not have listened.
The relationship between our sin, confession and God’s gracious reply to our call for help is very clear in this passage. The pictures of “oppression” under the hand of God are stark and almost shockingly brutal:
- We are melted like metal in a crucible of great heat. Of course the purpose is to produce something that is of greater value. The final product of such smelting is purer silver or gold. Gold sells for nearly $1277 an ounce today – and that’s a lot more than you get for just an ounce of ore that holds gold. The finished product always has greater value that the raw material. But it is interesting to contemplate: the finished product was in the raw materials all along – it just needed to be extracted to achieve its full, potential value;
- Like animals, we were captured in his net and slavery resulted. I can see this several ways: first, slaves were captured peoples in the ancient world for the most part. They’d been subdued by a power greater than they and slavery was the natural result; second, Jesus promised to make his followers fishers of men – but had they not already been caught in Jesus’ net? God has always been the first and greatest “fisher of men”, and the “burden of slavery” is that of being a slave to the king of the entire universe, not the king of a tiny corner of the world. It brings to mind the saying that “I’d rather be a servant in heaven than a ruler in hell.” The burden of the slavery to God includes carrying our own cross on our backs, even as Jesus did in Jerusalem;
- The troops that ride across the broken bodies could have been literal enemy troops, or even such things as disease and infirmities that break us. Surely Christ must have felt that his body was being trampled by vast hordes of troops – and indeed, the Roman troops did “ride across” his broken body with their whippings, beatings, etc.;
- Fire and flood were both used by God for judgment. Fire burns out the impurities and tests the validity of something (as the metal in the crucible). Without fire, there’s not much purification. Even today, doctors sterilize instruments through great heat. The flood washed away the evil in the day of Noah – providing a fresh beginning for humanity that was accompanied by a covenant with God.
But here’s a key point: the result of all this wasn’t devastation, but being brought to a place of great abundance – it was good things, not bad, in hindsight at least, that came out of these trials and sufferings. In other Psalms, we see that even the writers had problems in the midst of their sufferings in seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but in hindsight, we can nearly always find the silver lining if we look faithfully enough.
Finally, note the importance of confession if we want God to hear us. He won’t put up with our pretension of holiness, or our denial of our evilness. He will accept a heartfelt confession. How much of our unanswered prayer is because of the lack of confession in our life? Probably much more than we’d like to admit.
I need to spend more time in confession to God after truly allowing the Spirit to search my heart and reveal my sinfulness to me. I dare not trust my own heart and mind to do that searching, for my heart is “deceitful above all things” as Scripture notes. I must invite the Spirit in and when He points out things, I must confess if I want God to hear me once again.
PRAYER: Thank you for the privilege of suffering for you. Thank you for catching us in the net that you’ve thrown into this world to capture our hearts. Help us to humble ourselves that our confession before you may be quick, honest and pure. Thank you for the promise of your forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.