There is no soundness in my flesh
because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones
because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
My wounds stink and fester
because of my foolishness, (Psalm 38:3-5 ESV)
In Psalm 38, the psalmist expresses the pain that has followed his own sin. He recognizes on the one hand that it has come by the hand of God (“because of your indignation” and verse 2 “for your arrows have sunk into me”), and on the other hand has come “because of my foolishness.” It is a hard thing to face the consequences of your own sin because you know that you deserve it. Often we try and face it and beat ourselves up even more. We wallow in self-pity thinking that if we suffer in our guilt then somehow we can pay the price and get through it. We stay away from God because we feel we don’t deserve Him and sometimes let our pain be known to others in a form of self-pity that we hope brings some measure of relief.
The problem with this is that it doesn’t work. We might find some measure of relief but it is ultimately a result of denial that it is really that bad and instead of growing closer to God we callous ourselves against God and our own consciences. What we must see is what the psalmist plainly admits, it is more than we can bear, “for my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.” All other attempts to escape the pain lead us to dark places. The Psalmist instead turns to the Lord.
O Lord, all my longing is before you;
my sighing is not hidden from you. (v.9)
Do not forsake me, O Lord!
O my God, be not far from me!
Make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation! (v. 21-22)
There is hope in the Lord. Even though the Lord brings the arrows, it is only to bring us back to Him for healing. We would do well to remember this.
Have you ever felt burdened with guilt to the point of feeling ill? What did you do?
Chronological Reading Plan plus Psalms: Ex 25-27, Ps 38