“Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.” Psalm 19:12 (NIV)
“My Way” is a song popularized in 1969 by Frank Sinatra. Although this work became his signature song, his daughter Tina Sinatra says the legendary singer came to hate it. Although he didn’t like it, the song “stuck”. She shared her father’s true feelings that he thought that song was self-serving and self-indulgent. Behaviors that promote an individual’s will over God’s will often result in being “stuck”—stuck in sin. Fortunately the Psalmist sought God’s intervention in his life in order that he might be “blameless and innocent.” This week’s study closes out our series on “The Reality of God.” Once the reality of God is revealed, the only response is to recognize one’s own depravity (sinfulness).
What stands in the way of receiving the revelation of God—either general or special? What is it that hinders man from connecting with God who created and now sustains all things? (S) What impedes man in hearing God as He speaks through His “active and living” Word? (Heb. 4:12) The answer is sin and more specifically, man’s determination to do it “his way”. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German Lutheran pastor and theologian, offered this observation about man’s resolve to express his will over God’s: “Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.”
Exposure to God, whether through general or special revelation, will always result in recognition of one’s sin (Ps. 19:6; 2 Tim. 3:16). On Mount Horeb, Moses quickly responded to God’s presence by removal of his sandals (Ex. 3:5). Faced with the glory of God, Jeremiah confessed that he was a man of “unclean lips” (Is. 6:5). It is impossible for sin to escape scrutiny in the presence of a holy and righteous God.
In these final verses, the Psalmist acknowledges his inability to recognize “secret faults” that hinder his walk with God. Like the Psalmist, believers often have “behaviors” that we cannot see in ourselves but that are evident to others around us. We call these our “blind spots”. Faced with the reality of God, the Psalmist solicits God’s assistance in identifying his “spiritual blind spots” that escape detection by the human eye yet are easily detected by an all-knowing, all-seeing, and wise God:
“Errors” are often unintentional sins, sins of omission or even defiant attitudes that accompany intentional sin, e.g., Cain’s resentment surrounding his sacrifice to God (Gen. 4:5).
“Hidden faults” lie buried in the attitudes and veiled motives behind our words and actions e.g., King Herod’s request to the Wise Men (Matt. 2:7-8). They can also include “toxic thoughts” that no one sees but slowly darken the heart.
“Presumptuous sins” are defiant sins, committed knowingly and deliberately, e.g., David’s affair with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:3-4).
The Psalmist solicited God’s intervention to avoid the “great transgression” (pasha), or rebellion. These words sound much like the Apostle Paul’s description of the Christian’s struggle with sin: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24). In both cases, the answer to the sin dilemma lie in God, our Rock and our Redeemer; then the Psalmist’s words (his actions) and his meditations (his thoughts) would be “acceptable” (ratsown) to God—a term used of literal sacrifices offered by Jewish priests (Lev.22:19, 29; 23:11).
Also read: The Subtlety of Sin
While remaining in this earthly flesh, we will need the Spirit of God to help us combat sin and to conform us to the image of Christ (Heb. 12:1; Rom. 8:29). By humbling ourselves “under the mighty hand of God”, we will find strength and redemption for the journey (James 4:10). If, however, we choose to continue in our sin, living “our way”, we may, like Mr. Sinatra, find ourselves “stuck” with something we really didn’t want.
SELAH: Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal “spiritual blind spots” you may have that are affecting your walk of faith. Then confess (own up to the sin and ask for forgiven); repent (renounce and turn away from the sin); and then, Thank God (for redemption for the sin).
Charles Spurgeon offers “A Prayer for Acceptance from Psalms 19