Daily D – Psalm 38:4
For my iniquities have flooded over my head; they are a burden too heavy for me to bear. PSALM 38:4 (CSB)
Sin is a heavy burden to bear. At times, it is too heavy.
King David’s psalms are most often filled with praise, thanksgiving, and wonder. Not all of them are like that. This one and Psalm 51 in particular display the conviction and confession of sins too heavy to bear.
There are some things one cannot push out of mind. There are some things we cannot long rationalize. There are some things that drive us to our knees, some things that either soften our hearts or harden our souls.
Where do we go at times like these when we know we have offended others, and ultimately, most definitively, God himself? We go to God. We run to him. When we cannot run, we walk. When we cannot walk, we depend on friends who can walk, lift, and carry to get us to our Savior.
Such is the story in Luke 5:17 and following. A man’s sins literally paralyzed him. We are not told what paralyzed him. We do not need to know. What we do know is this man was completely immobilized. He was helpless. He needed a healer. He required a Savior.
Friends don’t leave friends paralyzed if they can help it. Four of them hefted their buddy and took him to Jesus. He was a man with healing in his hands. A Bible conference was going on and thinkers from all the schools of thought gathered around Jesus. The room was packed, too packed for four men and a paralytic on his bed to squeeze into the room.
It is good to have friends who understand completely the requirements of urgent urgencies. They climbed on top of the house, no mean feat while carrying a full-grown man who can do nothing but prove ever more thoroughly the principle of gravity. Once atop the structure, they began dismantling it. No doubt, this was a distraction to the proceedings of the gathered conferees.
Then they lowered their friend right in front of Jesus, right where the most distinguished attendees sat.
Note: Sometimes when sermons or lectures are interrupted, you must attend to the interruption. There was no way to pretend four guys had not just torn the roof off of the house. There was no way to look away from a man being lowered down in front of Jesus. There might have been angry shouts. Jesus might have laughed at the whole thing.
What did the great healer do? “Friend, your sins are forgiven,” (verse 20).
The problem is, from our perspective, the paralyzed man’s problem was his paralysis. If we were God, and it is a good thing we are not, we would prioritize getting this man up and going. Jesus looked beyond the condition to the cause. He started there.
Note: God is more concerned about the cause than the condition.
This man, bound so deeply and so irretrievably by his state of sin, was released from an unbearable burden. Jesus removed the ultimate problem. Then he turned to the immediate issue. “Get up, take your stretcher, and go home,” (verse 24).
Note: Jesus is not only concerned about causes, but is also deeply interested in what feels most urgent.
Why could David sing songs of praise, thanksgiving, and wonder? Because he was a man whose ultimate problem had been solved. His paralyzing sins had been forgiven.
Why could this man walk with his legs and lift his bed with his arms? Because the effects of his paralyzing sin had been removed and his physical capabilities had been restored. Carrying his bed was all the physical therapy he required.
Verses 25 and 26 say that this man “went home glorifying God.” I wonder which of David’s songs he sang? These verses also say, “everyone was astounded, and they were giving glory to God. And they were filled with awe and said, ‘We have seen incredible things today.’”
I wonder if Psalm 1 was on anyone’s lips:
How happy is the one who does not
walk in the advice of the wicked
or stand in the pathway of sinners
or sit in the company of mockers!
Thought: Let’s avoid paralyzing sin. Let’s avoid sin, period, obviously. Let’s also work on our recovery rate. As soon as we sin, let’s turn to Psalms 38 and 51. Then let’s return to 100 and 150.
Memorizing and mobilizing Psalm 1 might be a good idea, too. How well, or how poorly, we live that psalm will determine what others we sing. I prefer the happy-clappy songs.
I will confess my sins and receive God’s healing grace.
Our Father, unconfessed sin wearies our souls and paralyzes our abilities to live in the freedom you provide. Deliver us from its evil. Empower us to radically improve our recovery rate in returning to you in confession and repentance so that we can live free. Amen.
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Psalm 23:3, 4 He renews my life; he leads me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. (CSB)
Daniel 5:11 “There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the days of your predecessor he was found to have insight, intelligence, and wisdom like that of the gods. Your predecessor, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, mediums, Chaldeans, and diviners. (CSB)
Daniel 1:20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding that the king consulted them about, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and mediums in his entire kingdom. (CSB)