A murderer scheduled to die tomorrow in an electric chair will have some serious thoughts and mixed emotions. He should be filled with fear and be moved to plead for his life. If he is a child of God, as David who murdered Bathsheba’s husband was, he will by God’s grace confess that he deserves that punishment. That is what the psalmist also confesses in Psalm 119:39, 40 in these words, “Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good. Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.”
His reproach is his blame, his discredit, or if you will, his guilt, which calls for punishment in the terrors of hell. Because he believes that God’s judgments are good and that he deserves this punishment, and because, being born again, he desires to walk in God’s precepts, he does pray that his life may be spared in a righteous way. As we sing:
Turn Thou away reproach and fear:
Thy righteous judgments I confess:
To know Thy precepts I desire,
Revive me in Thy righteousness.
But we must not put too much stress on this escape from punishment, and on a life of joy in its place. Take a good look at the psalmist’s confession and his prayer that he be saved in a righteous way.
If we want relief and life in an unrighteous way, we add to our sins. For then we want nothing to do with Christ and His cross and are not longing to keep God’s precepts. We are not revealing a love for God and to have Him glorified, but are manifesting a love for self. If we want to be quickened, or revived, we must want a life of love to God with a desire or longing to walk in His law, and to say that His judgments are good.
The debt must be paid in full; but we must also long to be able to serve God fully with every fiber of our being. We may desire life; but we must want to live a life that says that God’s ordinances are good and that we long to be able to keep His precepts perfectly. We must desire the removal of our guilt by Christ’s cross; but we must also long for the work of His Spirit to fill us with love for God.
Read: Psalm 51
Psalter versification: 325:4
This devotional was written by Rev. Heys and published by the Reformed Book Outlet.