Friday, September 12, 2008

what the soul desires from divine forgiveness

John Knox in a treatise on Psalm 6 outlines some of the essentials that the soul desires from divine forgiveness. For the text of Psalm 6 see below. According to Knox there are four things that David seeks and could not be without:

“David, in sum, desires four things in this his vehement trouble. In the first verse, he asks that God would not punish him in his heavy displeasure and wrath. In the second verse, he asks that God should have mercy upon him. And in the third verse, he desires that he should heal him. And in the fourth verse, he asks that God should return unto him, and that he should save his soul. Every one of these things was so necessary unto David, that lacking any one of them, he judges himself most miserable. He felt the wrath of God, and therefore desired the same to be removed. He had offended, and therefore desired mercy. He was fallen into most dangerous sickness, and therefore he cried for corporeal health. God appeared to be departed from him, and therefore he desired that the comfort of the Holy Ghost should return unto him.”

This is well expressed in Isaiah 12:1 "And in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me". The healing the soul needs is in relation to the effects and consequences of sin and backsliding. It needs the joy of salvation restored.

McCrie comments on this treatise by Knox "It is an excellent practical discourse upon
that portion of Scripture, and will be read with peculiar satisfaction by
those who have been trained to religion in the school of adversity". Knox refers to Psalm 6 in his treatise on prayer "Let no man think himself unworthy to call and pray to God, because he hath grievously offended his majesty in times past; but let him bring to God a sorrowful and repenting heart, saying with David, “Heal my soul, O Lord, for I have offended against thee". Knox writes in the treatise: "Here must I put you in mind, dearly beloved, how oft you and I have talked of these present days, till neither of us could refrain [from] tears, when no such appearance there was seen by man. How oft have I said unto you, that I looked daily for trouble, and that I wondered at it, that I did escape it so long? What moved me to refuse, and that with displeasure of all men (even of those who best loved me), those high promotions which were offered by him, whom God has taken from us for our offences?" It seems that the treatise was written either for his wife Marjorie Bowes or her mother, with whom he corresponded. The treatise was entitled "Fort for the Afflicted". The mother-in-law is described in the following way.

"On the one, according to Knox she was a person with strong convictions who at times strengthened even him when he was faint. This we may well believe, for she withstood considerable opposition, if not persecution, in her own family because of her faith. On the other hand, she had continual doubts and fears about her own spiritual condition: whether she had true faith, whether she was of the elect, whether she had committed the unpardonable sin. This uncertainty caused her constantly to consult Knox, and when he was not present to write to him. The letters in which he attempted to reply to her questions she kept and these provide us with a good insight not only into her problems, but into Knox himself." (W. Stanford Reid, Trumpeter of God [New York, 1974], p. 79-80.)

1 O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.
2 Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.

3 My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?

4 Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.

5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?

6 I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.

7 Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.

8 Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.

9 The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.

10 Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.