“I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O LORD.
I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.”
It is a wonderful thing to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others, including with many who call themselves Christians but who are not believing in the true gospel as Jesus taught it, and as his New Testament apostles taught it.
And truly the gospel of Jesus Christ is the glad news of deliverance from our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin, and it is the glad news of his righteousness, for when he delivers us from our slavery to sin, we become in him the righteousness of God.
And, when we are delivered from our slavery to sin, now, in the power of the Spirit, we are becoming slaves of his righteousness. Now we are empowered of God to live holy and righteous lives, pleasing to God. And by God’s Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of our sinful flesh (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Lu 9:23-26).
And this is the message we should be giving out daily, and we should not shrink back from it out of fear of what others might say to us or about us or what they might do to us. For, if we are telling the truth about the gospel, we are going to be hated and persecuted, even by the church.
“As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain
your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will
ever preserve me!
For evils have encompassed me
my iniquities have overtaken me,
and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
my heart fails me.”
In context, this word translated “iniquities” does not fit. This is a man who is writing about how he was faithful to the Lord in sharing the good news of deliverance from sin, and how he did not hold back in sharing the truth of God’s salvation.
And in this next section we will read where his plea for mercy has to do with other people who were seeking to snatch away his life, who were delighting in hurting (injuring) him. So, this sounds a lot like persecution, which does happen to those who tell the truth.
So, I looked the word up, and it can mean something other than “iniquities.” It can also mean afflictions, calamities, and sufferings, which would definitely fit with this next section of Scripture and with the section prior to this one. Context is critical to correct interpretation.
So, the sense here is of one who has been faithful to the Lord in sharing the truth of the gospel of our salvation, and who has not held back the truth. Thus, he is being persecuted, and he is suffering greatly. And he is physically exhausted from the persecution.
Thus, he is praying for mercy and for relief of his suffering. For, when you are out there on the front lines sharing the truth, you will face all kinds of opposition coming from many different sources, and you will be confronted with much evil.
“Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me!
O LORD, make haste to help me!
Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether
who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
Let those be appalled because of their shame
who say to me, ‘Aha, Aha!’”
I understand this. I don’t know it to the degree that people in other countries have had to suffer, but I know this kind of persecution, and sometimes it can be very overwhelming and exhausting physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
And in order to survive the onslaught and to not give way to fear, we must call on God for mercy. He may not deliver us from the persecution, but he will give us the strength we need to endure it and to be joyful in it, too.
He will heal the hurts and he will give us love and mercy for our persecutors, too, so that we can pray for them, do good to them, not seek revenge, and so we will say to them what is beneficial for them spiritually, for to bless others is to do and say what is for their good.
Some people say how hard it is to love those who persecute us, but when we take an honest look at ourselves and where we were outside of faith in Jesus Christ, and we look at what Jesus did for us, and the love he has shown us, how can we not forgive others as he forgave us?
But let me say here that forgiveness is not permission to continue in sin. The whole point of forgiveness is to give the other person a chance to repent and to change, but even if they don’t, we need to forgive them so we don’t harbor hate and bitterness in our own hearts.
For truly when they say “Aha, aha,” it is them showing us reproach and contempt. And they will show it to us in many ways, sometimes physically, but often the abuse will be more in the form of rejection, or fighting against us, or them belittling us because of our faith.
“But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
say continually, ‘Great is the LORD!’
As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
do not delay, O my God!”
And here is the encouraging part of all of this. When we know that we are walking in fellowship with our Lord, doing what he has called us to do, and we are convinced of his truth, and that sharing his truth is what needs to happen, then we can be at peace even in a storm.
We can be glad and rejoice in the Lord even in the severest of persecutions, rejections, and slander, and the like. For we know that the message we are sharing is a message of life and of love, of grace and of mercy, of forgiveness and healing, and of deliverance from bondage to sin.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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