Another piece of soul-nourishment from David Price, our family friend and elder at Cheltenham Evangelical Free Church in England. Pray for David as he is scheduled for heart surgery today.
“And in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me. “
As we look at the verse, we see four things – Prospect, Propitiation, Peace, and Praise.
Prospect – Thou wast angry with me
This is where we must begin – the realisation that we are all (as Jonathan Edwards famously described us) “sinners in the hands of an angry God”. Our prospect by nature is not acceptance by God, nor tolerance, but rejection and being cast away. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23); we are all as an unclean thing, and all our “righteousnesses” (or best efforts) are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) in God’s holy sight; and there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not (Ecclesiastes 7:20).
The Lord God Almighty is not some benign and genial grandfatherly figure who is weak enough to see no wrong in anyone or turn a blind eye to any “misdemeanour” however insolent or repeated. He is not some aloof Important Person who moves in the corridors and palaces of power, dealing with Important Affairs, and therefore so distant or so busy that He cannot see let alone care what we say and do. He is not a judge whose favour can be bought with bribes or who can be swayed by tears. No, He is the sovereign and holy Lord, greater than we can imagine, before whose transcendent holiness even the angels veil their faces. He is the omniscient God whose eyes are in every place beholding the evil and the good (Proverbs 15:3), and who knows the thoughts that come into our minds, even every one of them (Ezekiel 11:5). He therefore sees all our sins of thought word and deed, attitude and action; He sees all the times we flout His instructions and disobey His commands. We have not “got away with it”; these are acts of rebellion against Him (in His sight, before His face) and He is therefore angry with us – as individuals.
That is the aspect we must not, we dare not ignore or minimise … that the Lord God Almighty is angry with ME because of MY sin.
Propitiation – Thine anger is turned away
How can this be? If God is justly angry with me, how can that anger not fall on me if I have done nothing (and can do nothing) to appease Him? Can that anger just evaporate? No – the text does not say His anger is lessened, but rather turned away or diverted. More particularly, the full wrath of God, which I deserved, has been exhausted because it has been borne by another – the Lord Jesus Christ.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (I John 4:10)
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
That is the joy of the gospel – that the Lord Jesus Christ, Who never sinned, offered Himself as the unblemished Lamb of God to bear the penalty which we deserved; and His finished work on the cross is fully sufficient for the anger of God towards me to be “turned away”.
Because the sinless Saviour died, my sinful soul is counted free;
For God the just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me.
Peace – Thou comfortedst me
But there’s more!
For Almighty God to pardon us is one thing; that is mercy, sparing us what we deserved. But He goes way beyond that; He extends grace to us, giving us what we could never have deserved. He doesn’t just say to us “Go, and sin no more”; instead He says, “Come and welcome” as He bids us enter into the joy of sins forgiven and peace with God – indeed, the joy of adoption into His family. As Paul says
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1)
In the words of Psalm 103, not only does He “pardon all our iniquities” (verse 3) but also He “crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies (verse 4). Not just kindness but loving kindness; not just mercy but tender mercy. He comforts us with assurances that, because of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are “accepted in the Beloved”. Once we were indeed far off, without Christ, having no hope, and without God in the world; but now in Christ Jesus we are made nigh by the blood of Christ. Once we were dead in trespasses and sins; but God in His amazing grace has quickened us together with Christ, and has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. He loves His blood-bought people, and NOTHING can separate them from His love – EVER!
He comforts us with the promises of His presence on the way to glory, His help in times of difficulty and temptation and doubt, His provision for all our needs (not wants!). He comforts us with the assurances that He is sovereign and working all things for His glory and our good. He comforts us with the assurance that the Lord Jesus has gone ahead to prepare a place for us. Not only is He “able to keep us from falling” (which is a great comfort in itself); but also He assures us that He will present us “faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” and that we shall be “holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight” for ever.
Praise – I will praise Thee
How can we do any less than for ever praise our God, the God of all grace, the God & Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?
And in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me. (Isaiah 12:1).