I’ve been reading and pondering through this 5th chapter of the Psalms this week, knowing I would be writing on it soon, but unable to land on a way to approach it. I think because it is, so far, the most relatable to me of any of the Psalms I’ve covered.
Perhaps in the earlier days of this trial, I would have failed to look closely at what David points to as the focus of the text, which is that the offenses of the wicked weren’t committed against David. He recognizes the reality. The wicked offend God. If I had read this Psalm days or even weeks after our ordeal began, I might have stopped at: “Because of the abundance of their transgressions, cast them out.”, and left out the next vital part of the phrase: “For they have rebelled against YOU.”
David’s cry for vengeance wasn’t for the pain the wicked had caused HIM, but it was their rebellion against GOD that he couldn’t bear to see. What we read in this Psalm is that David knows that ultimately God will have His day of justice. If there’s ever been a question of whether God has hate for some people, it is answered here, where David states clearly: “You HATE all evildoers…The Lord ABHORS the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.”
It isn’t up to us to exact personal justice upon evildoers. I am NOT saying that crimes shouldn’t be prosecuted! But I am saying that in the grand scheme of all the horrendous acts the wicked have committed in this world, God knows what they’ve done and He doesn’t sit by idly. As time has progressed, I have begun to have some peace in this assurance. That those who perpetrate evil will have their day in God’s court. Actually, God will have HIS day in His court. He will have the last word. And if those who have done evil have not repented and turned to Christ, they will find themselves receiving their just penalty. And honestly, this makes being ready to extend forgiveness a BIT easier to see myself being able to achieve in the future. I know I have to reach this place at some point. It doesn’t make what our son’s perpetrator did “OK” by any stretch of the imagination. But I know that ultimately having a heart that is willing to forgive will allow ME to be free and not to be held in a prison of bitterness and anger for the rest of my life. However, there will always be a sadness for the innocence that was lost.
Julian Freeman, pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Canada lays out very well in his article, “Should I Forgive Those Who Don’t Ask For Forgiveness”, that, scripturally, we don’t necessarily have to offer forgiveness when there’s been no repentance, but we should live in a posture of forgiveness, being ready to extend it if it is asked of us. I don’t know if I’m there yet. But I think I might be getting closer.
From the website “Got Questions”:
While we must not harbor bitterness in our hearts (Hebrews 12:15) or repay evil for evil (1 Peter 3:9), we should make sure we follow God’s lead and not extend forgiveness to the unrepentant. In short, we should withhold forgiveness from those who do not confess and repent; at the same time, we should extend the offer of forgiveness and maintain an attitude of readiness to forgive.
Perhaps the article I’ve found the most helpful in this difficult situation is from John MacArthur’s blog titled “Answering Tough Questions About Forgiveness”. In it he states:
“But there are some sins that are to be forgiven only if the sinner repents. These are willful, premeditated, habitual sins, sins that have become the pattern and direction of the sinner’s life. These are the sins that call for the church discipline set forth in Matthew 18. Yet even these sins, when there is genuine repentance, are to be fully and freely forgiven.
In cases where there is no repentance on the part of the perpetrator, what is most important is that bitterness does not gain a foothold in the heart of the victim. There are times when you may not get the chance to profess or demonstrate forgiveness because of a remorseless wrongdoer. But you can maintain a forgiving disposition in your spirit and move on in life free from longings for vengeance and vindication. Too many people go through life crippled by resentment and their determination to cling to it.“
At this point, about all I can muster is trying not to hang onto resentment which will fester into my heart harboring lifelong bitterness. I’ve known people to whom this has happened. I don’t want that to be me. What I do know from reading Psalms 5 is that God will have justice. And those of us who are living for Him in righteousness will one day enter into His glory where all the pain and suffering we have endured can be left behind. David says, “But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house.” His house. Where the long-lasting effects of the sins of the wicked are no longer a reality we must endure day after day. Where peace rules, not chaos of mind or spirit. Those who take refuge in Him can rejoice and ever sing for joy.
Wow. I am looking forward to that day! But until He turns the ashes into beauty, and the mourning into dancing, I will trust in Him who makes all things new.
*I would like to add something to the end here. As I have mentioned at the beginning of this series, it was a dear fellow pastor’s wife who encouraged me to work my way through the Psalms to help in my healing process. I had no idea where this blog series was going, how long it might take, or what details I might decide to make public, or just “ponder in my heart”. There are many layers to this story. Some I may or may not touch on. But I know this. I AM finding that healing is starting to happen. There are good days and bad days. But at least now I don’t feel like I can’t go on. There was one day when I told Jeff I didn’t think I could ever be happy again. But I can say honestly that God has been walking with me through this storm and I can now laugh and have joy when at one time not long ago I truly thought that maybe I wouldn’t. So THANK YOU Elizabeth for challenging me to do this. I have 5 down, 145 to go. But I think this journey is one that will change my life.
**Our son’s abuser has since been convicted of multiple sex crimes against children and is currently serving 1008 years at a prison in Alabama.
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