"For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me."
I hope you don't think it's a case of schadenfreude if I am glad the psalmist has more iniquities than the hairs on his head, just like me.
As I am typing this, I am feeling the way the psalmist feels, so that I am able to write from fresh experience and not from memory. "Encompassed," "overtaken," "heart fails me." I just finished lying prostrate and telling the Lord about it. I hardly know where to begin with Him---do I start with the evils that are not my fault? Or with iniquities that are, and that are more than the hairs of my head?
But for all that, there is one improvement in my spiritual life today from, say, 10 years ago---the fact that I am talking to God at all about this! This is a watershed. This is huge. This is like a second conversion. God's Word says there are only two kinds of people: those who have problems and moan, and those who have problems and talk them over with to God:
"They do not cry to me from the heart, but they wail upon their beds" (Hosea 7:14).
King Asa was a very good king---for the first part of his life. But at some point he lost confidence in God and stopped talking to Him. It was after he had received a rebuke from the prophet Hanani about seeking help in battle from the Syrian king rather than from the Lord (2 Chronicles 16). Whether it is because he was angry at God, or because he thought God was ticked off at him, Asa fell out of the habit of running to God with his concerns, the way he used to do in the good old days (2 Chronicles 15:8-14).
In the end, Asa came down with a disease in his feet, and here some of the saddest words in the Bible are written: ". . . his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians. And Asa slept with his fathers, dying in the forty-first year of his reign" (16:12-13). Unbelief is the note he ended on.
Lord, let me never outlive my faith in you! Never allow me to slip away from you, back into the darkness of self-reliance and unbelief! I am as the psalmist: My heart fails me now because of innumerable evils that encompass me, some of my own making and some not. Thank you that your word emboldens and invites me to come to you with both kinds of ills, the self-inflicted and the other-inflicted. Thank you that there is no pit you cannot lift me out of. I am NOT the only person that your grace is not big enough for!
I think the reason we don't spend time talking over our most intimate problems with God is that we don't believe it will make any difference. We don't believe He will rescue us. We don't believe He can change us. The other day I asked a godly woman I know what she would say to the Church if she had the podium. She said without missing a beat: "Repent of your unbelief."
To read Andrée Seu's series on Psalm 40, click here.
To hear commentaries by Andrée Seu, click here.