This Week's Focus Passage

‘If thou, Jehovah, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?’

Focus Passage: Psalm 130:3

‘If thou, Jehovah, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?’

What a question! If God should mark, or take into account, our iniquities, then who could stand before Him? Job raised the question long ago, ‘How can man be just with God?’ This was in answer to Bildad the Shuhite. Bildad had stated the unequivocal truth when he declared, Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, Neither will he uphold the evil-doers. It is subsequently followed by the response of Job which begins chapter nine in that inspired book:

Then Job answered and said, Of a truth I know that it is so: But how can man be just with God? If he be pleased to contend with him, He cannot answer him one of a thousand. He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: Who hath hardened himself against him, and prospered?

This is very close to a parallel with the rhetorical question raised by the apostle Paul in the epistle that he wrote to the church at Rome. When Paul had stated bluntly the truth, So then he hath mercy on whom he will, and whom he will he hardeneth, the apostle responds in this rhetorical fashion;

Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he still find fault? For who withstandeth his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that replieth against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why didst thou make me thus?

In similar fashion, Job has come back with the query, to put it this way, ‘How is it possible for a sinful man to ever be counted righteous, or just, with an absolutely perfect Being?’ The answer from God’s mercy and grace is that which was given to the disciples of Christ to their question, Who then can be saved? We are informed in Matthew 19:26, And Jesus looking upon them said to them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

This is another one of the most blessed ‘buts’ in the Word of God, from the lips, as it were, of God, the Holy Spirit. Even as it is written in Ephesians 2 when Paul reminds his readers, including ourselves, of their, and our, nativity according to the flesh, that they, and we, were by nature children of wrath, follows with that wonderful and most glorious,

But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), and raised us up with him.

This parallels the ‘but’ of our psalm. The inspired answer to the question, If thou, Jehovah, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand, is that of yet another ‘but’ of God, But there is forgiveness with thee, That thou mayest be feared. It is quite remarkable that it is recorded of Bildad, that he seems to have grasped, at least to some extent, enough so as to repeat the interrogatory of Job in 25:4, when he declares the wonder that is the sovereign power and prerogative of God. He speaks of this sovereignty in beautiful and unmistakable language, saying of the Almighty:

Dominion and fear are with him; He maketh peace in his high places. Is there any number of his armies? And upon whom doth not his light arise? How then can man be just with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?

Indeed, how can natural man, a man born of a woman, be clean? Can a leopard change its spots? Can an Ethiopian change his skin? How can a sinful man—and there is none that is not sinful—be just with God? Who then can be saved? How can unrighteous man be righteous with God? How can a man be born again? Nicodemus thought that perhaps a man must go back into his mother’s womb to be born again; he didn’t understand the grace and power of God. Can a man be born again of his mother, no; BUT GOD! Can a natural man, born of a woman, be clean, no; BUT GOD! Can a leopard change its spots, no; BUT GOD! Can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin, no; BUT GOD! BUT THERE IS FORGIVENESS WITH THEE!

If thou, Jehovah, shouldest mark iniquities, our text begins. The fact is that God does mark iniquities; He is of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look upon iniquity. He hates sin, yet He made sin to light upon His only begotten Son in order that His people might be restored unto Him in righteousness. Wonder of wonders; grace upon grace; that He who knew no sin became sin for us; that while we were yet sinners, He gave His Son for us. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound! Amazing love! how can it be that Thou my God, shouldst die for me?

The words of the psalmist under our consideration this week could easily have been uttered by David after the Lord had recovered him from his terrible fall. They could well have been spoken by Jonah from ‘the belly of the whale.’ In spite of his dereliction of duty toward God when he fled from the presence of God unto Tarshish, the Lord pursued him even into the depths of the sea and into the belly of a great fish. But through all this the prophet was brought unto that most blessed proclamation found in Jonah 2:9, Salvation is of Jehovah. The answer to the question raised by the psalmist in this ‘Song of Ascents’ when he inquired, if thou, Jehovah, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand, is no one. None could stand; but One did stand for His people. He stood in our room and stead. He stood against the false charges of the Jewish leadership. He stood up for us against Pontus Pilate. It pleased Jehovah to make His soul an offering for sin. He stood in our place as the wrath that we deserved fell upon Him. Having stood, He is able to make us to stand before God clad in the robes of His righteousness. We stand only in Him.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

Leave a Comment

Comments for this post have been disabled.


Join us Sunday at