Have you ever been so sick and felt so miserable that you thought you might not recover? I think most of us have been there more than once and what we really want in those times is for someone to offer a little sympathy. Recovery is nice and we look forward to it, but when we are in our weakest moments we really desire for someone to care.
The 38th Psalm is an interesting study because if we did not know better we would think it was written by Job. At least the physical suffering expressed in the psalm makes us think of him; but we are quickly tuned out of those thoughts because it is evident much of this suffering is mental and due to sin. Job was genuinely afflicted both physically and mentally but his problem was not sin. He was so upright that God used Him as a test case of true faith in His divine providence.
This psalm was not written by Job but by David. An examination of the psalm yields no proof as to the nature of David’s sin, and neither is there any record in David’s life elsewhere that describes this intense physical sickness that accompanied it. We might not think a missing record of sickness would be too strange since these types of illnesses were probably more common among the ancients than among us. Today with vaccines and preventative medicines we do not have to go through the myriads of diseases they experienced.
There is a type of sickness, however, that has not changed and neither does it have a new remedy. It is apparent that as a believer David had entered some sin that overly taxed his mental abilities and the burden was tearing him apart. He said, “Mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me” (v. 4). We certainly feel for David and our first thoughts may be what a terrible misfortune to be so miserable. But is it really? Would it be better for David to skip and hop through his sin with no care for what he had done? No! In His divine providence God will not allow us to be happy in sin. Sin prevents the showers of His blessings. Sin prevents closeness of fellowship with Him. Sin separates us from God, so God wants to separate us from sin as quickly as possible. Chastisement is a blessing from the Lord because it shows He cares. Hebrews says: “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6). David was blessed to know the way out of his troubles. In that bleak moment, somebody cared! God loved him and was kind enough to send him painful trouble to bring him to his senses.
I know this may be a very strange thing for a pastor to say, but if you have sin in your life and God is running you through the ringer, I am glad. I am not happy for your sin, but I am happy that you are His child and He will lay the stripes on you until like David you come to your senses. Too many claim to be sons without chastisement for their sins. They go on unaffected. What a dangerous place to be! I would be much more fearful for your soul if you prosper in your sin.
The Bible says, “In everything give thanks.” Maybe it is time for you to thank Him for taking a little hide off your backside when you step out of line. When He does, turn around and go back to the path where He leads. God never stops loving us—He just has some odd ways of showing it.
Pastor V. Mark Smith