Summer in the PsalmsJuly 26-30
Does Your Sin Stink?
My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness, – Psalm 38:5 (ESV)
Both the hummingbird and the vulture fly over our nation’s deserts. All vultures see is rotting meat, because that is what they look for. They thrive on that diet. But hummingbirds ignore the smelly flesh of dead animals. Instead, they look for the colorful blossoms of desert plants. Vultures live on what was. They live on the past. They fill themselves with what is dead and gone. But hummingbirds live on what is. They seek new life. They fill themselves with freshness and life. Each bird finds what it is looking for. We all do. (Steve Goodier)
In Psalm 38 David describes his sin like rotting flesh. David writes, “My wounds stink.” The word rendered “wounds” here means properly the swelling or wales produced by stripes. The figurative or literal open wounds had become infected and were stinking. David says this is, “because of my foolishness.” The Scriptural idea is that sin is the highest foolishness. Hence, the psalmist, at the same time that he confesses his sin, acknowledges also its foolishness.
Whatever sin David felt guilty of was no doubt pleasurable in the moment. But over time he came to regret that sin and disdain the spiritual odor it caused. How can you relate to David’s sentiment? When has sin in your life or someone close to you created a “stink?”
Awareness of sin is a gift from God. Thank God for making you aware of sin and the stink it causes. Thank God for not allowing you to remain comfortable living in sin.
How Sin Makes Us Feel
There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me. – Psalm 38:3-4 (ESV)
An old farmer plowed hard for many days with an ox and mule yoked together. The ox told the mule that they should play sick and rest. The mule declined saying, “No, we must get the work done for the season is short. But the ox played sick and the farmer brought him hay and corn and made him comfortable. When the mule came in from plowing the ox asked how things had gone. The mule said, “We didn’t get as much done but we did ok, I guess.” The ox asked, “Did the old man say anything about me?” “Nothing,” said the mule. The next day the ox played sick again. When the tired mule came in he asked how it went. “Ok, but we sure didn’t get much done.” The ox asked, “What did the old man say about me?” The mule replied, “Nothing directly to me, but he had a long talk with the butcher.”
David’s sin made him feel sick. David writes, “There is no soundness in my flesh.” This means there is no part of my body that is free from disease. It’s a disease that makes his friends stay away from him. David also writes, “There is no health in my bones” “Health” can also be translated as peace. The idea is, that there was no comfort; no rest. His bones were filled with constant pain. The flesh “and the bones” constitute the entire man; and the idea here is that he feels sick all over because of his sin.
We don’t know for sure if the suffering David is facing is literal sickness or if it’s figurative. Regardless, it shows us just how severe suffering for sin can be. Can you think of a time when sin made you physically sick? Or can you think of a sin that still has lasting repercussions in your life? Maybe it’s from the mistakes we made last year. Maybe it’s from mistakes we made in our youth that continue to haunt us. Bad financial decisions can have long-term consequences. Sexual sin can have lasting repercussions. Our sins as parents can affect the next generation.
Thank God for the healing He offers from the pain of sin. Ask Him to forgive and heal anywhere you are still hurting from sin.
How Sin Makes Us Suffer
I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning. For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart. – Psalm 38:6-8 (ESV)
Edwin Cooper was famous across America, yet almost no one knew his real name. Coming from a family of circus clowns, Cooper began performing before audiences when he was just nine years old. After a stint with the Barnum and Bailey Circus, he became a fixture on television in the 1950s as Bozo the Clown. In addition to entertaining both young and old, Cooper had a message for his “buddies and partners” every week: get checked for cancer. Yet Cooper was so busy working that he neglected to follow his own advice. By the time his cancer was discovered, it was too late for it to be treated. Edwin Cooper died at just forty-one years of age from a disease he had warned many others to watch out for.
Sin is far more deadly than the most aggressive and fast-growing cancer. Sin kills and destroys everything it touches. From the Fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden until now, sin takes no prisoners. This is the purpose behind everything Satan does. Jesus said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). Because of his evil nature and his hatred of everything good, the devil brings destruction to everything within his reach. (Reading Eagle)
One commentator says, “The Bible makes it very clear that not all suffering is caused by sin, nor that all sin leads immediately or to suffering.” But “the Bible does teach that sin can lead to affliction.” David writes in Psalm 38, “I go mourning all the day long.” This is constantly; without any break. The idea here is, that, on account of sin, he was crushed and bowed down as a mourner is with his sorrows.
We can’t assume suffering is always a result of sin, but we also can’t assume suffering is never a result of sin. When have you heard someone mistakenly blame someone’s suffering on sin? When have you knowingly experienced suffering because of sin?
Thank Jesus for suffering and dying for the pain of our sin.
How We Should Respond to Sin
But for You, O Lord, do I wait; it is You, O Lord my God, who will answer. – Psalm 38:15 (ESV)
A little boy and his father were driving down a country road on a beautiful spring afternoon. Suddenly out of nowhere, a bumblebee flew in the car window. Since the little boy was deathly allergic to bee stings he became petrified. His father quickly reached out, grabbed the bee, squeezed it in his hand, and then released it. But as soon as he let it go, the young son became frantic once again as it buzzed by the little boy.
The father sensed his son’s terror. Once again he reached out his hand, but this time he pointed to this hand. There, stuck in his skin was the stinger of the bee. “You see this?” he asked. “You don’t need to be afraid anymore. I’ve taken the sting for you.” The Christian does not need to be afraid of death because Christ has taken the sting out of death and sin. ( James s. Hewett)
In Psalm 38:15, David is waiting on the LORD. He is expressing his confidence in his God. This is the central and therefore most important part of this prayer of repentance! David committed his whole cause to God. He believed that God would forgive him, take care of his reputation and that he would vindicate him.
David ends the Psalm with a cry to be near to God. David knew God would hear his cry. Is your tendency to run away from God in sin and suffering or to run toward God? Why?
1 Corinthians 15:55-56 says, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.” Praise Jesus for removing the sting of death and offering us the hope of heaven.
Confess My Sin
I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin. – Psalm 38:18 (ESV)
In May of 1948 three men robbed a bank in Hoyt, Kansas, getting away with $1,000. Shortly thereafter two men were killed in a car wreck, and police thought they were the robbers and the case was closed. Four years later, however, something unusual happened. On a Sunday morning, at the Seward Avenue Baptist Church, a young man named Al Johnson stepped to the pulpit and revealed to the congregation that the day before he had gone to the district attorney and confessed his role in the crime.
“I thought about the bank robbery many times,” Johnson, who was a teenager when the crime occurred, said, “I prayed about it and asked the Lord to give me an answer. It seemed that He would give me only one answer and that was to give myself up.” Johnson also revealed that he had borrowed the money to repay the bank his share of the stolen funds. The statute of limitations had expired, but Johnson said that even if it meant going to prison, he could not keep the secret any longer. Johnson agreed to help the authorities locate the other two men, who had not been, as was previously believed, the men involved in the car accident. (Lewiston Evening Journal)
In Psalm 38:18 David says, “I will confess my iniquity.” He was no longer going to hide his sin. He admitted this to be true, and he admitted that his sin was the cause of all his troubles. It was the fact that he was a sinner that so painfully affected his mind; and he was not going to try to hide it anymore. David also says, “I am sorry for my sin.” It wasn’t just enough to admit his sin. David also had to repent of his sin.
Proverbs 28:13 teaches, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” The longer we try to hide our sin the longer we have to live with the consequences. But when we confess and repent God promises to show us mercy. What keeps you from letting go of a particular sin and not repenting?
Thank God for giving you undeserved and unconditional mercy. Ask God for the power to change and live differently.