Bob and Weave

Musings of an impostor. Welcome to the masquerade.

103rd Psalm Part 3: Forgiven

Posted by flyingbk on 10/19/2016

This is Part 3 of my series on Psalm 103. See: Part I, Part IIa, Part IIb.

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My favorite movie of all-time: The Shawshank Redemption.


At that revelation, a few of you jeered because you think it’s overrated and marred by cliches (a fair assessment, I concede). But most of you cheered because you share my sentiment. It’s a movie about hope and freedom and overcoming unfair circumstances. (The flick is based on Stephen King’s short story, which is worth the read.) So many great scenes, but there are three that jump out at me. Who can forget when Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins) secures beer for his fellow inmates atop the roof? Or when he locks the door and plays Mozart over the prison speakers? Red’s (Morgan Freeman’s) musing: “For the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.”


But my favorite scene has to be the one shown above, post-prison escape. As Red aptly narrates, Andy “crawled through a river of s*** and came out clean on the other side.” And there is pure joy as the driving rains wash away all the sweat and filth. Andy is free. Many times, I have pictured this exact scene as I repent of my sins. I imagine myself taking a bath in the torrential downpouring of God’s grace, all the guilt and shame and regret expertly diluted, a la Dufresne.

Of course, there’s a stark contrast between Andy and me: Andy was innocent. Me, not so much. How much more, then, do I need to assume the position underneath the cleansing flood as I hear the words of the Lord as expressed in Isaiah 1:18 (NIV):

“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
    they shall be like wool.
We have now arrived at the first benefit that King David mentions in Psalm 103. Here are verses 2 and 3 (NIV):
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases.

While I taught SAT’s over the summer to four different classes, I loved getting randomly philosophical on them. Sometimes, they’d just roll their eyes or lash out in frustration when I riffed on the importance of self-esteem or why they should read as much as possible. (One good reason for the latter: It actually extends your life.) But I could clearly sense flummoxing and quiet tension when I uttered out of nowhere, “We all have a dark side..Right?”, as I made eye contact with each student. It was fun to watch my normally rabid students suffer from a temporary spell of squirming and averting their gazes.

(NOTE: This music video is amazing. Also, countdown to seeing Red in concert: FOUR DAYS.)

Yeah, we all have a dark side. The older I get, the more intimate I become with mine. Whether it’s sloth, self-idolatry, contempt for certain types of people, lust, pride, addiction… my sins are ever “red as crimson.”

But because of the forgiveness that God offers and David chooses for the first benefit of Psalm 103, there is actually hope for me *only* when I come face-to-face with my dark side. Hope spoils when I glance away from the darkness within, and only confess the sins that I deem respectable or not-so-bad.


My go-to illustration of the gospel is a lemon sour: It’s crazy sour and bitter when it first goes into your mouth, but as you patiently work through it, your tongue locates the sweetness. Bitter repentance of one’s darkness must precede the healing waters. But how many of us have missed out on the sweet because we refuse to abide and spend uncomfortable time sitting with our dark side?

I am always encouraged by the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 7:14-20 (NIV). Here’s a man whom everyone reveres; he’s the gold standard of holiness. That’s much to live up to, and yet Paul is freely vulnerable as he writes:

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

When we know the forgiveness of God, there is no more need to pretend. There is no more need to hide and act like we’ve got it all together. There is even fresh motivation to tackle our dark side, i.e. crawl through our own river of s***, for we know that a deluge of freedom and hope await.

Praise the Lord, O my soul. All my inmost being, praise His holy name. He is a God who forgives ALL our sins.


3 Responses to “103rd Psalm Part 3: Forgiven”

  1. […] « 103rd Psalm Part 3: Forgiven […]

  2. […] are at part 4 of my series on the 103rd Psalm (Past entries: Part 1, Part 2a, Part 2b, Part 3). As I covered last time, we all have a dark side. And sadly, we each know all too well that a […]

  3. […] continue our look at Psalm 103 (Past entries: Part 1, Part 2a, Part 2b, Part 3, Part 4). We’ve been looking at this psalm as a progression that gets better and better. We […]

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