Our family gathered in the living room this morning, looking out on a snow-covered landscape, and spent some time with the Psalmist and writer of wisdom. We came upon Psalm 78, and found there the story of humanity. A long list of failures, sin, shortcoming, and rebellion. And, many reminders of God's wonders, mercy, and long-suffering in the face of such malfeasance.
It might be easy to point the finger, but the story of Israel is our story. We can (when thinking rightly) see ourselves there, acting as they did. Which is what makes the latter portion of this little section of the Psalm such gloriously good news:
32 In spite of all this [God's wonders and mercy], they still sinned;
despite his wonders, they did not believe.
33 So he made their days vanish like a breath,
and their years in terror.
34 When he killed them, they sought him;
they repented and sought God earnestly.
35 They remembered that God was their rock,
the Most High God their redeemer.
36 But they flattered him with their mouths;
they lied to him with their tongues.
37 Their heart was not steadfast toward him;
they were not faithful to his covenant.
38 Yet he, being compassionate,
atoned for their iniquity
and did not destroy them;
he restrained his anger often
and did not stir up all his wrath.
39 He remembered that they were but flesh,
a wind that passes and comes not again.
I love the Bible. I love waking up on a wintry Monday morning to have God remind me that in the face of my great sin - yes, my great sin - he is compassionate. He restrains his anger. He does not stir up all his possible wrath. He remembers that I am but flesh, weak and fickle and frail.
He, in his great and steadfast love, sent his Son, to die on a cross, the atoning sacrifice for all my iniquity.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me.... I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now, I see.