If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments … Psalm 89:30–31
suggested further reading: 2 Samuel 12:1–14
The psalmist does not speak of total apostasy here, implying the total absence of godliness in people who forsake God’s law and do not walk in his judgments. But sometimes the faithful cast off the yoke of God and break forth into sin in such a way that the fear of God seems to be extinguished in them. Therefore it is necessary for God to promise the pardon even of heinous sins, so that those who commit them are not overwhelmed with despair.
David, who seems by outward appearances to be wholly deprived of the Spirit of God, thus prays to be restored to him. God provides hope of pardon even for those who commit detestable and deadly transgressions so that the enormity of their sins may not keep them back or hinder them from seeking reconciliation with him.
From this we may condemn the undue severity of the fathers whose scruples did not allow them to receive those who repented from falling for the second or third time. Due care must be taken lest by too great a forbearance we give loose reins to people to commit iniquity. But there is no less danger in exercising an extreme degree of rigor. We should note that when God declares that he will show himself merciful toward sinners who have violated his law and broken his commandments, he purposely employs those odious terms to excite our hatred and detestation of sin, not to entice us to commit it.
Although the faithful may not always act in a manner worthy of the grace of God and may therefore deserve to be rejected by him, yet he will be merciful to them because the remission of sins is an essential article promised in God’s covenant with us.
for meditation: What a comfort it is to know that God’s forgiveness is deep enough to cover all sin and terrible times of backsliding! Praise God for this forgiveness and for its purpose: to make sin more repulsive and Christ more attractive. How does its depth motivate us toward holiness rather than sinfulness?