Psalm 31

In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.

Free me from the trap that is set for me,for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth. I hate those who cling to worthless idols; I trust in the LORD. I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.

Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors; I am a dread to my friends- those who see me on the street flee from me. I am forgotten by them as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery. For I hear the slander of many; there is terror on every side; they conspire against me and plot to take my life.

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me. Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love. Let me not be put to shame, O LORD, for I have cried out to you; but let the wicked be put to shame and lie silent in the grave. Let their lying lips be silenced, for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous.

How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you. In the shelter of your presence you hide them from the intrigues of men; in your dwelling you keep them safe from accusing tongues.

Praise be to the LORD, for he showed his wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city. In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. Love the LORD, all his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.

Bill (not his real name) had committed a terrible sin, a public one that scandalized the whole congregation. Some were mad at him and didn’t hesitate to let him know. But to many more it was as if he had died. He noticed how they pretended not to see him in the supermarket, suddenly altering their course to avoid him in a way that would have been comical had it not been so tragic. When he wrote them all a letter of apology asking for their forgiveness, most didn’t even bother to respond. He was reminded of the comment a former friend had made about Christians going through the field after the battle is over, bayoneting the wounded. Were it not for his children he would have simply disappeared, to begin anew somewhere else, anywhere else.

But when he asked God for mercy he received it. The moment he confessed he was forgiven, purified from all his unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) It’s a promise from Heaven that was written in blood on a wooden cross nearly 2000 years ago. And to prove it, he spent the net few years watching as the Lord turned the lemons he had produced into the sweetest lemonade.

There’s nothing you can do or say to surprise the Lord. There’s no sin you can commit that will put you outside the boundary of His forgiveness. He saw every detail of your life before it began and nailed all your sins to that cross in Judea. His death canceled the penalty due you, (Col. 2:13-15) and His resurrection reserved your place in Heaven. All you had to do is ask for and receive your pardon to make it so.

If the events of your life parallel those of the sinner described above, take heart. The Lord had this psalm written for you. He died for your sins too, and longs to hear your confession so He can restore you to fellowship. While you’re praying, ask Him to forgive those who haven’t forgiven you.

If the events of your life don’t parallel his, chances are pretty good that you need to ask the Lord to forgive you for not forgiving the one in your life who is described above, and then ask Him to help you forgive as you’ve been forgiven. You’ll feel a tremendous burden being lifted from your shoulders. If neither of these situations fits you, then thank the Lord for the mercy He’s shown you thus far, and ask Him to help prepare you for the time when one of these situations will fit.