Psalm 40:2–3 — He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the LORD.
We have seen how the cross can help us regain a right view on the past and on the future. In our next devotions we will see how it also works this way in respect of hell and of heaven - of what believers have been saved from and what they have been saved to.
What is it, then, that believers in Christ have been saved from? The psalmist tells us in our passage - from the pit of destruction, from the miry clay. We reflected in reason 16 on the fact that the Lord's supper proclaims to us the sinfulness of sin - seeing what sin did to the perfectly holy and beautiful Christ at Calvary. We need to remember, though, that it was our sin that He bore on the cross, and that if He had not paid the debt we owed to God's justice, it would have fallen to us to make the repayment. The hymn writer says that eternity is too short to utter all God's praise. It is also far to short for a sinner outside of Christ to pay the debt of sin.
Although we don't like to think about it or talk of it in "polite society", God has told us clearly, truthfully and faithfully in the Bible that those who will not accept the Savior He supplied to take away their sin must receive His justice for their deeds. Jesus talks of the place where this happens in graphic terms - like being burned alive in a fire that never dies and never kills you, and like being eaten alive by worms that gnaw into you but cannot kill you either. This is the pit of destruction, where we are all headed from conception unless we cry out to God for mercy and trust Jesus to take our place and save us. It is like being in miry clay - the sort that stinks, that clings to you and will not let you get out. Rather, the more you struggle to free yourself by your own efforts, the further you sink into the filth.
Our old nature still pushes such thoughts away and tries to paint a picture of us in our mind's eye as good people, or certainly better than many others. When we come to the Lord's Table, though, it is very hard to cherish such ideas of ourselves. Here we see Jesus receiving the just punishment for our sins. Here we see Him mired with our filth. If His death had been a simple matter of falling asleep on a comfortable bed and His spirit passing into glory, we might have been grateful to Him but considered that our sin wasn't so bad after all, given the lack of suffering in the One Who bore it. But no. Look again at the cross. See the agony, the grief, the torment of Christ. See here, condensed into a few short hours, the eternity of anguish, shame, bitter suffering and loss that rightly belonged to us. Our sin did that to Him. That was what we deserved.
Once again, then, the Table can help us when the world, our flesh and the forces of spiritual darkness would incline us to think less of our sin, what our sins deserve and therefore ultimately of our God and our Savior. How we need this corrective!