# 148 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 38 A Wandering Heart.

In 1757, at the age of 22, Robert Robinson wrote what became a much-loved hymn. It was called “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. It was a song about God’s amazing “grace [and] streams of mercy, never ceasing” found in the truth that,

“Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood” [speaking of Jesus’ death on the cross for our sin]

The last verse is particularly relevant to our psalm today. Robinson wrote:

“Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let that goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love.”

This issue of having a “wandering heart” and being “prone to wander…prone to leave the God I love” has always been a problem for humans and will continue to be until Jesus returns. It was obviously David’s problem when he wrote this psalm. Listen to what he has to say:

Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath…
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
My guilt has overwhelmed me
like a burden too heavy to bear.

My wounds fester and are loathsome
because of my sinful folly…
I am feeble and utterly crushed;
I groan in anguish of heart…

17 For I am about to fall,
and my pain is ever with me.
18 I confess my iniquity;
I am troubled by my sin…

22 Come quickly to help me,
my Lord and my Saviour.

What the hymn writer called “wandering”, the psalmist speaks more plainly and calls it “sin…guilt…sinful folly…iniquity…” and cries out to God because, as sin always does eventually, it was having dramatic consequences upon his life. Listen again to the words he uses to describe the results of his sin:

“…there is no health in my body;
there is no soundness in my bones…

[it] has overwhelmed me
like a burden too heavy to bear.

My wounds fester and are loathsome…

I am feeble and utterly crushed;
I groan in anguish of heart…

For I am about to fall,
and my pain is ever with me.”

Like the majority of the Psalms, there is no explanation as to the circumstances of the psalmist’s life and why he has composed this poem, confessing his sin and crying out to God for help. And, as many commentators suggest, that makes it much easier for it to become our prayer in similar circumstances.

But I think it is important to say here that this Psalm is not suggesting that all difficulties, illness and suffering is a result of our sin. The book of Job and the teaching of Jesus are two examples which confirm this truth. But, there is no doubt, that on the other hand, our unconfessed sin can cause us to suffer in a number of ways – spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally or socially.

Have you ever sung a hymn like the one quoted above, or read a psalm like this one, and felt that you could identify with the writer’s words? Certainly, I have, and when this hymn was sung at my own church just recently I thought, sadly, “how true, how very true!”

Praise God though, Isaiah, in a Messianic prophesy, sums up our problem, and God’s solution, in the following words:

Surely he [Jesus] took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.                                 (Isaiah 53:4-6)

May we all, recognising our wandering heart (sin), acknowledge and confess it before God, and experience the forgiveness that is available to us because of the death and resurrection of Jesus. And then, as Robinson wrote, pray to our gracious Lord:

Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above”.

Father, thank you that you didn’t leave us helpless, in bondage to our sin, but sent Jesus to be the one who died in our place to enable us to be reconciled to You. Empower us to live for you and to cease our wanderings. Amen

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