Psalm 51:3-4 - For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight--that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge.
I wrote about Manasseh yesterday, a king who did evil in the sight of the LORD. Remember all he did? From rejecting God to offering his sons as a sacrifice to other gods. But God...forgave him when he cried out in his affliction. These words above might have been similar to what he pleaded to Him. Even if they weren't his acknowledgment of his sin was important to God.
So often it is in our affliction, when we come to the end of ourselves, that God gets our attention. When the stock market crashes, when a marriage fails, when we lose a loved one, or when we lose a job or the business fails. All examples of devastation.
And we remember the upcoming tenth anniversary of 9/11, as we watched in horror the safety of our comfortable living being shaken. For a brief time, our focus was on the Lord.
We might say we come to our wit's end, being very worried because every possible way to solve a problem has been tried but to no avail. Another "or" is when we choose to back away for a time from Jesus...not totally gone, but ignoring Him. When the light has grown dim and the flame needs to be fanned. When all else fails, go back...or go to...Him.
Manasseh came to the end of himself. Perhaps the realization of all he'd done wasn't yet on his mind but he was faced with a very personal conflict...affliction...that he was so totally not prepared for. What caused him to call out to God? I suspect Manasseh had always known the LORD but even as many as today, he strove to do as he desired and rejected God's ways. When he was at his wit's end he implored the LORD his God, (a sure sign he knew Him) and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers (2Chronicles 33:12).
And God responded favorably. He took him out of his bondage, returned him to Jerusalem. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD He was God (2Chronicles 33:13). Yes! We come face to face with our God and we know that we know who He is.
God forgives His children when they err just as forgives those who do evil. He loves them both. If we have received Him we are engraved in the palm of His hand (Isaiah 46:16). We are the apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8). We are His children (1John 3:1). We are kings and priests (Revelation 5:10) clothed in righteousness (2Corinthians 5:21). These things are available to all who call on the name of the Lord, to those who will humble themselves and seek Him. He is quick to forgive. He will put out of His mind the offenses against Him and the sins we've committed. He will rejoice in us.
Pride, stubbornness and blatant disregard for our Creator separates us from Him. Even when we choose to walk away for a time, it has been our choice. He has not left our side but He is silent, sadly watching as His child wanders down his own path.
What was that Manasseh did for God's forgiveness? He humbled Himself greatly before the God of his fathers. and he prayed to Him...and what did God do in return? He was entreated of him and heard his supplication (2Chronicles 33:12-13). And Manasseh was brought back. He was restored.
Oh, how God is in the restoring business. How He longs for not only His own people who fail to admit their faults and failures (and I believe He urges them all along till they recognize these faults) but He also longs for those who have not felt a need to seek Him in the first place.
The first place! He is to be our first love. He is to be our strength, wisdom, provision for all of life. We are nothing without Jesus. We are like Manasseh. We may not be as evil as he, but we are kicking against the goads, which is very much a biblical term meaning there is a futility in fighting against God. He will have the last word in our ultimate demise. Either we are for Him or against Him.
But He is ever willing to forgive if we humble ourselves before Him. The step to take today is to seek Him while He may still be found. Put aside the pride that so hinders us. Admit the failures in life; admit the helplessness. He will forgive. He will restore. He will save. He has more to offer in the long run than the world.
Our Father in Heaven love us more than we can know and wants to take care of us. Everything the Word promises us is true and ours for the asking. There are hundreds of examples in the Word of God taking His people out of their bondage, just like Christ has done for us. All examples for us to learn from. All people who came to the end of themselves and humbled themselves before their God.
Psalm 51:17 - The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart--these, O God, You will not despise.