Summary: God’s grace is greater than ALL our sin
“Your lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; Your judgments are like a great deep. O LORD, You preserve man and beast.” Vs 5-6
“Thy mercy Lord doth to the heavens extend,
Thy faithfulness doth to the clouds ascend;
Thy justice steadfast as a mountain is,
Thy judgments deep as is the great abyss;
Thy noble mercies save all living things,
The sons of men creep underneath Thy wings;
With Thy great plenty they are fed at will,
And of Thy pleasure’s stream they drink their fill;
For even the well of life remains with Thee,
And in Thy glorious light we light shall see.”
Sir John Davies
Sir John Davies penned these words in paraphrase of Psalm 36 in the seventeenth century, and a century later Spurgeon repeated the poem in his sermon on the same Biblical Psalm.
I don’t know how often it has been repeated between then and now, but I continue the tradition here to emphasize the truth that no matter how many centuries, no matter how many miles, no matter how many rising and falling cultures pass until the Father bids the Son call His church home, the glory and majesty; the goodness and faithfulness; the righteousness and justice of our God will be proclaimed – and the terminology need not change because He Himself will not change.
Yes, I want to continue the tradition today and not tradition only but fulfillment of my calling as a preacher of God’s Word, which is not only my calling but my delight.
However I would be negligent in my duties as such if I failed to preach also the striking, even infinite contrast between this God to be exalted, and His fallen creation, of which we are, each one, a part; desperately and hopelessly lost, ruined, doomed forever if not redeemed by a Savior.
After all, Sir John began his paraphrase at verse 5; but that’s not where the Psalmist began is it?
TRANSGRESSORS ARE WE
The Psalmist began where anyone who would approach God must begin. The cold hard fact is that we are all transgressors of God’s laws, rebels against holiness, enemies of truth, full of wickedness, hatred and deceit.
Now this is the point where our inner self rises up and cries ‘unfair’. What about this person or that person – people we know who are kind and just and reasonable and honest and morally upright?
How can I be so absolute, so all-encompassing and say that every man and woman born of Adam’s race is a ruined transgressor against God?
What about the heroes of history?
What about the men and women we honor and teach our children to emulate because of their humanitarian accomplishments and their great sacrifices and selfless deeds done to benefit mankind?
But you have to understand that we judge by man’s standards, not God’s, and man’s standards, built up on a very foundation of sin and enmity against God, are at their very foundation flawed and infinitely short of God’s standard of holiness.
We fall immediately into error when we value God and His Word in the light of what we see in mankind, instead of looking at mankind in the light of revelation in God’s Word.
In his Psalm of confession, Psalm 51 verse 5, King David declared, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me”. What does that mean? Was David accusing his mother of adultery? In saying, ‘I was brought forth in iniquity’ was he saying that it was a sin on the midwife’s part to deliver him from his mother’s womb?
Of course not. That would make no sense at all; especially in the context of confessing his own sin and God’s holiness and justice.
David understood something fundamental about himself and the entire race of men; that we are not sinners because we sin, but that rather we sin because from our conception we are sinners.
We must come to understand the utter sinfulness of sin if we are ever to begin to comprehend the depths to which God’s grace had to plunge in order to bring us up.
In a recent sermon, in making the point that we can never atone for our own sins, I asked the rhetorical series of questions; How many sins does it take to make one a sinner? How many does it take to condemn a soul to Hell? How many sins must a man commit before he is rendered unclean and unacceptable to God?
A friend and fellow preacher challenged me on this, knowing full well the point that I was driving toward but cautioning me that someone who does not know where I stand on these basic doctrines might go away thinking that my teaching is that it is our acts that make us sinners, rather than the other way around as I have stated in this sermon.