Do not hold against us the sins of past generations;
may your mercy come quickly to meet us,
for we are in desperate need.
Help us, God our Savior,
for the glory of your name;
deliver us and forgive our sins
for your name’s sake.
Oh, how desperate we really are. Our culture does a good job distracting us so that we don’t know our desperation. Scripture helps remind us our need. Scripture points us back to the reality that we are dust into which God first breathed life. Our lives are but a vapor, a mere blip on the screen of time. We live as if we are invincible. And, when we do, we are prone to forget God.
These verses from Psalm 79 remind us how desperately we need God’s mercy to meet us now. We can’t wait till later; there might not be a “later.” Psalm 42 says, “as a deer pants for living water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” That’s our current condition. While it might not sound flattering to consider yourself like a needy creature, it’s true. And, we need words of truth much more than flattery.
The writer of Ecclesiastes puts it this way: “it’s better to go to a house of mourning than to a house feasting.” (Ecc. 7:2) Why on earth would he say such a thing? Because it’s true. We’ll all end up six feet under, and probably far sooner than we’d like. We are moving to our doom at sixty-seconds a minute. Whether rich or poor, full or hungry, sick or healthy, powerful or powerless, the great equalizer, the thing our culture wants you never to notice at your doorstep is pursuing us. Sounds like bad news? Sounds depressing. Sounds hopeless. If it weren’t for our Good, Good God, it would be.
God comes to the rescue because that’s who he is. God is a rescuer, a redeemer, a lover of mankind. There is no greater evidence of this than God himself becoming man, feeling man’s pain and alienation, experiencing man’s brokenness, and suffering man’s death under man’s wrath. All for what? All for you, to “deliver you and forgive your sins for his name’s sake.” God did what he did because that’s who he is. He heals the broken, strengthens the feeble, empowers the weak, and raises the dead, all because he is a God of grace, mercy, love and goodness. In short, God is our savior, and because of our desperate need, he comes to our rescue quickly.
His rescuing of his people happens because of who he is and how he loves. Remember, the same Scriptures that mention God’s sacrifice for his name also mention that love is not self-seeking. God didn’t die for his people because he needed to, but because God is Love, and as such God is patient, kind, not envious or jealous, not boastful, not easily angered, not selfish. Rather, God pursues us relentlessly; he loves us fiercely, and forgives us freely.
Cheer up downtrodden dust-men. The one who made all things prefers your needs over his own. You are more loved than you could have ever dreamed possible.