For we have been consumed by Your anger And by Your wrath we have been dismayed. You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence.
Moses has explained both the time-lessness of God and the time-boundedness of man in the first six verses of this Psalm. God is eternal, the one Cause and Precedent of all, and man is finite, prone to disease, decline, and eventually, death. But it is not simply the difference between an eternal God and finite creatures that Moses calls our attention to; there is a state of alienation between God and man that needs to be acknowledged, and in some manner addressed, if the two are ever to be united in fellowship. In short, something has come between God and every human being who’s every lived—and that something is sin itself. This tragic state of affairs evokes a sense of dismay in us. This word is used in the bible to describe sudden panic, such as King Saul experienced at the appearance of the prophet Samuel…from the grave (1 Sam. 28:21)! The reason for this dismay is the sudden exposure of our deepest, most secret sins. God knows everything that we have ever done, said, or thought that falls short of His perfect standard of righteousness—and He is not neutral about it all. He does not look the other way, or say, (as we often do), “Well, who’s to judge? No one’s perfect!” God is the judge, and He is perfect! Did Moses have secret sins? Apparently so. Do you and I have secret sins? Of course. In light of the blazing scrutiny of a God who is continually angry over all sin, we don’t stand a chance, it seems.
But the psalm is not over; Moses has more to say in the coming verses; about the mercy of God, and the possibility of forgiveness and divine favor given to a loving Father to His flawed and sinful children. We’ll get there, but for today, let’s simply meditate on this holy God of ours, who knows our every impure thought and base, hurtful deed, and who is rightfully offended by our sins. And then, let us think of the only Person able to bear the punishment of such wrath, such anger—in such a way that the righteousness judgment of God would be poured out on human sin and rebellion, and yet in a manner that offers pardon for sin, and even freedom from punishment and bondage to sin. The death of Jesus of Nazareth was not simply a brilliant, divinely concocted scheme to give the go-ahead for God to forgive you and I, and for you and I to gain eternal life. It was the bloody work of a Son and His Father to win back something precious that had been stolen, to find something that had been lost, to restore something that had been rendered (seemingly) forever ruined. It was the grueling, torturous path walked by the Son through the darkness of His own grave so that you and I might walk in the marvelous light of God’s presence.
Today, look to your Savior, Jesus Christ, the One who stood in your place to face the wrath of God to receive the punishment due for your sin. Thank God today for the simple fact of the gospel—that Jesus came to the earth to die in the place of people just like you and me, and to bear the consuming heat of the anger of God, so that we need never fear being discovered and rejected by this holy God who knows our deepest, darkest, hidden sins—and has forgiven them through the death of His Son.