09 10

24 September 2016

Psalm 13: Mercy, Justice, and Forgiveness

I love this, from verse five, where it talks about trusting in His Mercy. I've been studying Justice in the stuff I'm working on studying for our homeschool, and it's really remarkable to see the inter-relation of Justice and Mercy. Here, David starts out with a plea for mercy:

How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O Lord my God...
-Psalm 13:1-3

I read this plea, and my heart goes out to him. But I also remember that there were some very legitimate demands for Justice against him, among them the complaints of Uriah and Bathsheba.

My experience is that we can sometimes forget that the Atonement has two sides. Usually, when we think about the Atonement we focus on how mercy can satisfy the demands that justice would impose upon us. We are typically quicker to accept the idea that when we sin and make mistakes the Atonement is available to pay our debts. Forgiveness requires us to consider the other side of the Atonement—a side that we don’t think about as often but that is equally critical. That side is the Atonement’s power to satisfy our demands of justice against others, to fulfill our rights to restitution and being made whole. We often don’t quite see how the Atonement satisfies our own demands for justice. Yet it does so. It heals us not only from the guilt we suffer when we sin, but it also heals us from the sins and hurts of others.
-James R. Rasband, Faith to Forgive Grievous Harms

Uriah and Bathsheba had a right to expect Justice and restitution from David, and Christ will make it right -- but He can do that and extend mercy to sinner: the scriptures talk about the "sure mercy of David". Looking at the interrelation of Justice and Mercy has been really comforting to me, both as it applies to my debts to others, but especially as it applies to wrongs committed against me; forgiveness is not incompatible with Justice -- but I don't have to bear the burden of Justice; the Lord does that for me. And He handles the restitution. When I think of it this way, the lines between Justice and Mercy that once seemed so sharp start to feel softer; it all starts to look so merciful, no matter which direction I look.


Anne Chovies said...

I enjoy reading these things about the Psalms. It's obvious you put a lot of study and thought into each of them. I'm looking forward to some that are coming when you get to them.

Ritsumei said...

Thank you! There are some chapters that I'm looking forward to as well -- sometimes I'm tempted to skip around, but I really want to do them all, and I know myself well enough to know that skipping around makes that much less likely.


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