On Affliction and the Remembrance of Our Sins
On Psalm 25:7- Remember not the sins of my youth – In strong contrast with God, the psalmist brings forward his own conduct and life. He could ask of God (Psalm 25:6) to remember His own acts – what “He himself” had done; but could not ask him to remember His conduct – His past life. He could only pray that this might be forgotten. He did not wish it to come into remembrance before God; he could not ask that God would deal with him according to that. He prays, therefore, that he might not be visited as he advanced in life with the fruits of his conduct in early years, but that all the offences of that period of his life might be forgiven and forgotten.
Who is there that cannot with deep feeling join in this prayer? Who is there that has reached the period of middle or advanced life, who would be willing to have the follies of his youth, the plans, and thoughts, and wishes of his early years brought again to remembrance? Who would be willing to have recalled to his own mind, or made known to his friends, to society around him, or to assembled worlds, the thoughts, the purposes, the wishes, the “imaginings” of his youthful days? Who would dare to pray that he might be treated in advancing years as he treated God in his own early life? Nay, who would venture to pray that God would treat him in the day of judgment as he had treated the friends of his childhood, even the father who begat him, or the mother who bore him? Our hope in regard to the favor of God is that he will “not” summon up the thoughts and the purposes of our early years; that he will “not” treat us as if he remembered them; but that he will treat us as if they were forgotten.
On Psalm 25:17- O bring thou me out of my distresses – Alike from my sins, and from the dangers which surround me. These two things, external trouble and the inward consciousness of guilt, are not infrequently combined. Outward trouble has a tendency to bring up the remembrance of past transgressions, and to suggest the inquiry whether the affliction is not a divine visitation for sin. Any one source of sorrow may draw along numerous others in its train. The laws of association are such that when the mind rests on one source of joy, and is made cheerful by that, numerous other blessings will be suggested to increase the joy; and when one great sorrow has taken possession of the soul, all the lesser sorrows of the past life cluster around it, so that we seem to ourselves to be wholly abandoned by God and by man.
On Psalm 25:18- And forgive all my sins – The mind, as above remarked, connects trouble and sin together. When we are afflicted, we naturally inquire whether the affliction is not on account of some particular transgressions of which we have been guilty; and even when we cannot trace any direct connection with sin, affliction suggests the general fact that we are sinners, and that all our troubles are originated by that fact. One of the benefits of affliction, therefore, is to call to our remembrance our sins, and to keep before the mind the fact that we are violators of the law of God. This connection between suffering and sin, in the sense that the one naturally suggests the other, was more than once illustrated in the miracles performed by the Saviour. (See Matt 9:2)