Seeing Jesus in Psalm 38 – “Intense Pain”
Psalm 38:1 – “O Lord rebuke me not in your anger, not discipline me in your wrath!”
Many things in life cause pain, physical pain, mental pain, emotional pain, even spiritual pain. David in Psalm 38 is experiencing all of it. He is hurting physically (v. 3), menatally (v. 6), emotionally (v. 4) and spiritually (the entire psalm). What is the source of David’s pain? According to David, it is himself and his sin.
He says “I am hurting and its all my fault.” He takes responsibility for his pain. That is a foreign concept in our world today isn’t it? Most of the time people blame other people for their pain, or they blame their circumstances, or society or whatever. We have a tendency not to accept blame. We like to pass the buck and say, “It’s not my fault.” David however says something shocking, he says it is my fault. My own sins have done this to me.
As the king of the country I’m sure there were a lot of people that David could have blamed but he didn’t, he said, “it’s my fault”. Psalm 38 is hard to read, it is in fact painful to read because David’s pain and hopelessness shines through. He is hurting, he is lonely, he is struggling mightily because of his sin. David comes to a crossroads in his life, he can continue to run and try to mask his pain with more sin and with the things of the world or he can run to God. Fortunately he repents of his sin and runs to God. He says in verse 18, “I confess my iniquity, I am sorry for my sin.” In other words God I repent, I am sorry, please forgive me and please help me. He closes by crying out, “Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation (v. 21).”
It is a painful Psalm but it ends on a hopeful note. It is painful because of David’s sin, it is hopeful because of the mercy and forgiveness of God. David says “my problems are due to my sin, and the solution is God’s mercy and forgiveness.” We can’t infer from that that all of our problems are due to our sins, sometimes things come upon us through no fault of our own. We live in a sinful world, and are surrounded by the effects of that each day. We can however infer that the answer is the same answer that David found, the answer is the mercy and love of God.
Today we know that God’s mercy and love have a name and His name is Jesus. David says “my problems are the results of my sin.” God promises us that He will cover our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ. In fact the Hebrew word that is used in other psalms for “cover” is the same word that describes what happens to the Egyptians who were pursuing the Israelites when the Red Sea came crashing down on them. It covered them, it destroyed them and that is what Jesus’ blood does to our sins. It covers our sins, it floods them, it wipes them away and destroys them. All of them, past, present and future. When we repent of our sins and place our faith in Jesus, ALL of our sins are truly washed away.
David found that out as he threw himself on the mercy of God almost 3000 years ago, and certainly we know it today. We are hopeless without Jesus, our lives are more painful than David’s words here. Without the cross we are trapped in our sins and there is no hope, no way out. But through the love of God displayed on the cross of Calvary we are forgiven and our sins are wiped out and destroyed.
Puritan Stephen Charnock puts it this way, “(our sins caused the death of Christ) and it was a death which the justice of God required, and at the sight of it that justice was so calmed, that sharp revenging sword drops out of its hand. God has smelled, in the death of Christ, so sweet a savor that has fully pleased Him. He can now pardon the sins of believers with the glory of His righteousness, as well as of His grace. He can now legally justify a repenting sinner.” That is what He did for David and that is what He does for us. To God be the glory!