Thinking about God and His Friendship with His People (Part Three)

Psalm 25:12-15

Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being,  and his offspring shall inherit the land.  The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net (ESV).

How did David find forgiveness for his confessed great sins? How did he light the way for others in the same kind of difficulties? David traced forgiveness back to its real source. He does not say “for my sake” nor “for the sake of what I have earned or deserved”. Instead, he looks to God’s name—his true character. He believed what God said about himself—that he forgives sinners. He believed that God would forgive even great sin, in order to show the greatness of his glory. “To forgive a great sinner like me will bring you great glory, Lord; therefore, for your name’s sake forgive me.”

Learn well how this verse is contrary to a legalistic attitude. A mentality of salvation by works looks at the man or woman and their indebtedness and actions to find mercy, but salvation by grace through faith looks higher to the goodness of God. Instead of being staggered by how much he or she owes, faith looks to the precious blood of Christ and pleads more vigorously for forgiveness for the sake of God’s name.

The more we see how serious and hideous our sins are, the closer we are to forgiveness. We wrote in our previous post on this psalm about calling our sins by biblical names, like rebellion, trespass, and missing the mark. Now, we need to see that all of our sins are great, because they are against the great God. In every sin we despise God’s greatness, mock his wisdom, twist his love, and make something else our god (cf. Col 3:5).

So, where is our hope when we admit that we are great sinners? When God interacts with those who repent and believe, all he does is in conformity with his love and faithfulness (25:10). He shows the mercy of his purposes and the truthfulness of his promises.

The Lord confides in his people. The Hebrew is well-translated by the NIV here (cf. Proverbs 3:32). It means “confidential speech”. It is the speech of one friend to another (Psalm 55:13-14). This has been God’s way with believing people from long ago. He wanted to tell Abraham what he was going to do with Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:17). God chose not to act until he told his servants the prophets what he was going to do (Amos 3:7). So over the course of thousands of years, as God prepared to send his Son when his time had fully come, God gave increasing revelation to his people about the Messiah. And so that his people did not miss the Messiah, he sent John the Baptist to point him out clearly (John 1:29-31).

It is in Christ that God confides in us most closely. The Messiah is our covenant. The Lord said to his Servant, the Messiah: “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness (Isaiah 42:6-7 ESV, my emphasis). Christ our covenant calls us his friends, assuring us of a hearty welcome into his company (John 15:15). And since we are in Christ, we have the source of all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). God’s invitation is now to lay hold of his deep friendship by faith (Ephesians 3:14-19).

Our tragic problem as sons and daughters of God is that we settle for far too little. God has provided the way to know him in Christ, and has promised a warm welcome in him, yet we stand at a distance, imagining that God doesn’t really like us that much! We go on a wild goose chase for intimate friendship, when God invites us to draw near to him and promises that he will draw near to us (James 4:8). Dear friends, the way to friendship with God is wide-open and near. We need only approach the Father by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace, David