Post-midnight meditations (2)
It is another of those nights when sleep eludes me and I am restless both mentally and physically. The day did not work out as I had planned. One thing after another crowded in upon me, demanding attention and pushing further down the list the things that really mattered. To rub salt in the wound, if anyone had asked what I had achieved, I would be hard pressed to give an answer. Failure!
Then I think of that precious verse of Scripture, Psalm 63:6: ‘I remember you upon my bed and meditate on you in the night-watches’. O Lord, enable me to remember and meditate!
By God’s grace the idea of ‘satisfaction’ enters my heart. Various scriptures that deal with this subject come to mind. I pause to thank God that, as a boy at school, I was encouraged to learn lengthy portions of the Bible by heart.
But one verse among many captures my attention — and I dwell upon it and its context to great advantage. It is Psalm 103:6: ‘who satisfies your mouth with good things’.
The psalmist is addressing his own soul and exhorts himself to remember the benefits and blessings so lavishly bestowed upon him by God: ‘Forget not all his benefits’. Now, what are those benefits?
It is a joy to realise that the blessings enumerated by the psalmist are benefits with which I can readily identify. He had been troubled in heart and soul many times. He had cried out in anguish, ‘O that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away and be at rest’ (Psalm 55:6). But in Psalm 103 he remembers and recounts his many blessings — and so must I!
The first blessing the — palmist calls to mind is the forgiveness of all his iniquities. In the cluster of benefits bestowed by God and bringing satisfaction to David’s soul, this is the first.
Immediately I think of Psalms 32:2-3 and 51:1-3, where David brings together sin, transgression and iniquity. Sin is falling short of the standard set by God: ‘All have sinned and come short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23).
Transgression, I was taught, is overstepping the boundaries set by God — and Scripture teaches that ‘the way of transgressors is hard’ (Proverbs 13:15). And what is iniquity? It is that bias in the natural man that favours everything that is opposed to God.
Now, if my meditation were to stop at that point, I would be in despair. But I am dwelling on the idea of satisfaction. And Oh! The satisfaction that comes through knowing and remembering that God has forgiven all my iniquities for Jesus’ sake!
The second of the psalmist’s blessings is the healing of his spiritual diseases. Are not sin, transgression and iniquity dread diseases that lead to spiritual death? I cringe in my bed as I remember that I, too, was in such a sickly, sinful state.
But I rejoice with the psalmist that God has healed and satisfied me. Those who are sick need the Great Physician of Souls (Matthew 9:12) and, praise God, he has healed me.
The third blessing to which the psalmist directs our attention is the redemption of his life from destruction. What a blessing, to have been redeemed ‘not with corruptible things such as silver and gold but with the precious blood of Christ’ (1 Peter 1:18).
I am redeemed, O praise the Lord; my soul, from sin set free,
has found at last a resting place in him who died for me.
David mentions a fourth blessing — coronation! It is God ‘who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies’. Now I am a king and sit upon a throne — all because I am ‘in Christ’.
Think of it! The sinner is now a son, and the slave is now a king! How can this be? The Scriptures tell me it is all of grace, and I praise God for his loving kindness and tender mercies.
Praise my soul, the King of Heaven;
To his feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven.
Who like thee his praise should sing?
Yes! God has done it all and I am satisfied. And, like the psalmist, I shall yet be further satisfied. I recall David’s word in Psalm 17:15: ‘I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with your likeness’.
Such thoughts of satisfaction here and hereafter are almost too much for me to grasp. Yet there is another thought that absolutely overwhelms me — Christ is satisfied with me!
I meditate on Isaiah’s word concerning Christ: ‘He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied’ (Isaiah 53:11). Here is another chapter I learned by heart at school and I am thankful that I did.
I recall the careful description of the Saviour’s sufferings — the ‘travail of his soul’ — that fills the chapter beginning at 52:13. We read of the physical, mental and spiritual anguish endured by the Saviour on behalf of his people and, praise God, I am included in their number.
In his suffering and death, Christ Jesus represented me (v.5), justified me (v.11) and interceded for me (v.12) — and he is satisfied.
O make me understand it. Help me to take it in, what it meant to thee, the Holy One, to bear away my sin.
My heart and soul are now at peace. The thoughts that troubled me and banished sleep have themselves been banished. I am satisfied by my blessed Saviour but — wonder of wonders — he is also satisfied with me!