Sunday Devotions: Back to The Future

Lectionary verse: Psalm 25:7 Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD.

Most of the psalms in the Bible are written by David, Israel’s greatest king. Usually, they have been written during his moments of great strength, faith, and creativity. It’s as if the vitality of David made him want to write some wonderful songs. And, if you think of it, most songwriters compose their best songs, lyrics, and tunes when they are between the ages of 25 – 45.

Today’s sacred poem is a bit different. I think that it’s written by an elderly David who is reflecting upon his life, his past mistakes, and deepest regrets. He’s looking back on some of his rash choices and poor decisions in his long life. And like anyone else who happens to be an elderly citizen, he wishes that things had been different and hopes that God will be merciful. You see, David is preparing for his final finals – he knows that one day soon, he will be face to face with God.

I don’t know about you, but when I look back at my own crazy past I want to give myself a good shaking down – especially when I was a teenager and in my early twenties. In my mind’s eye, I see myself saying and doing foolish and despicable things, or what David so eloquently calls ‘the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways.’ I wish that I could go back to the past and alter things, but I can’t. And if, at the end of my life, anyone asks me “would you change anything?” I would have to answer with a resounding “yes!”

David’s problem with his past causes him concern for his eternal future. He wants God to forget about the many mistakes and wicked deeds that even he, the greatest Israelite King, had committed. He’s begging God to set aside all of those sinful times that contaminated his faith, his family, and his friendships. In other words, David is looking for a mulligan, as far as his life is concerned. He wants God to bend the rules, show some mercy, and apply some grace so that he can die and rest peacefully.

You see David did not have the wonderful opportunity to cast his sins upon Christ’s Cross to be redeemed, and although he made many sacrifices in the Holy Temple each year, the king still carried the burden of a sinful past. Today, we are more fortunate because we can directly, sincerely, and humbly appeal to Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. We can go back beyond our own sinful past to centuries before we were born and hang our mistakes, our guilt, and our regrets on a tree called Calvary.

We can also come to a Table full of mercy, forgiveness, and peace, instead of an altar streaming with blood, terror, and fear. If David knew then what we know today, then his anxiety and angst, troubles and tribulation over his youthful sins and rebellious ways would have been swept away by the blood of our precious Savior, Jesus Christ.

So, when we read today’s psalm and Gospel lesson, let’s give thanks to God that we live in a merciful time, where the Good News of salvation can be given to every sinner, just like ourselves, who personally comes to Jesus, seeks His mercy, and receives God grace. We go back to the past in order to move on to the eternal future where faith sets us free from fear, hope handles all our doubts, and love cleanses our sins forever.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. He regularily writes a devotional blog called Heaven’s Highway.
The illustration was drawn by John. It is called “Lenten Prayer.” You can see more of John’s liturgical art at his webpage Stushie’s Art.
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About stushie

I'm originally from Scotland and have been a Presbyterian pastor for over twenty years. I live in Knoxville, TN. I enjoy art as a means of therapy, but also as a creative way to strengthen my spiritual connection to God.
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