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December 19 - LD 51, Day 3: The Misery of Indebtedness

Wednesday the 19th of December

in Heidelberg Catechism Meditations

December 19 - LD 51, Day 3: The Misery of Indebtedness 
by Rev. Martyn McGeown

Psalm 130:1,3 - “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD … If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?

Psalm 130 uses two powerful illustrations of the misery of debt. The more we understand them, the more we appreciate the great blessing of forgiveness, and the more we understand the urgency of our prayer, “Forgive us our debts.”

The first illustration is that of a drowning man, sinking ever deeper into the depths of the sea. Great is the terror of the man gasping for breath as he is sucked under the water to his death; he panics, desperately trying to tread water to keep himself afloat. That sea in Psalm 130 is not a physical sea of deep water, but a powerful symbol of sin. The idea is of the depth of depravity or the ocean of guilt in which a person is perishing. In desperation, the psalmist cries out to the only one who can save him, Jehovah his God.

The second illustration is that of a guilty man before the judge. “If thou … shouldest mark iniquities …” (v 3). The psalmist’s iniquities are on his mind and conscience. They are deviations from the law of God—the twisted, perverse, fallen nature of mankind, and all of the sins which proceed from that corrupt nature. Picture the judge sitting at the bench, with his pen in his hand. Will he mark the iniquities of the psalmist? Will he mark our iniquities?  To mark iniquities means to write them down and to treat us on account of them. What an awful possibility—that God could mark our sins against us and then punish us because of them!

If God did that—marked our iniquities—He would be perfectly just to do so. We do owe Him obedience, and we have not paid. We do deserve to be punished, and we have not undergone that punishment, punishment which awaits the wicked in hell, whose debts are not forgiven. The thought is fearful—who shall stand? The answer is solemn—no one would stand, because there is none righteous.

The awful truth is that the majority of people live in the world unconcerned about the debt which they owe. They have no consciousness of sin. They have deceived themselves that their sins are not at all serious, and that God will not take sins seriously. They see no need to pray the fifth petition. Blind and dead they are in their sins!

But the child of God knows his sin. He knows that he sins daily, and that his sins are serious. Thus he is urgent in his plea: “Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.” (Psa 130:2)

Are you drowning in debt? Does your conscience condemn you before God’s judgment throne?

Pray to your Father, “Forgive us our debts.”


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