Do not remember against us our former iniquities;
let your compassion come speedily to meet us,
for we are brought very low.
Help us, O God of our salvation,
for the glory of your name;
deliver us, and atone for our sins,
for your name’s sake!
Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants
be known among the nations before our eyes!
Let the groans of the prisoners come before you;
according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die!
Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors
the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord!
But we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
from generation to generation we will recount your praise. Psalm 79:8-13 ESV
Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord:
that he looked down from his holy height;
from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to set free those who were doomed to die,
that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord,
and in Jerusalem his praise,
when peoples gather together,
and kingdoms, to worship the Lord. Psalm 102:19-22 ESV
The knight Owain was traveling one day when he heard some pitiful moans coming from a cave. He went to the mouth of the cave and called inside to find out who was in trouble, and he heard the voice of a woman inside. She told him that a knight from King Arthur’s court had married the countess of her country, but had left her and gone back to King Arthur. Everyone at court had said that this knight was a bad person who would never come back except for Luned, the woman in prison. She was a serving maid to the countess of that country, and she believed that the knight would return. The people of the court were angry, and they threw Luned into prison, They were going to put her to death if the knight she believed in didn’t come to rescue her. The knight who had gone back to King Arthur’s court was Owain himself. He did battle with all the men of court who were going to put Luned to death. His honor as a knight depended on his rescuing the woman in distress, especially since she had been imprisoned and was going to be put to death because she believed in him.
In this psalm, the psalmist continued to beg for God to help his people after Jerusalem had been destroyed and almost all the people had been taken into exile. He asked God not to remember their sins, but instead to forgive them, and to have pity on the terrible trouble they were having. Some people were groaning in the prison of exile in Babylon, condemned to die there, and this psalm asked the Lord to hear their groans. God’s people didn’t deserve his help, because they had rebelled against him and turned away from his way, but the psalmist asked the Lord to rescue his people for the sake of his name. These were God’s own people, and if he didn’t help and rescue them, other nations would look at them and think that their God wasn’t there, or that he was too weak to help them. This psalm asks for God’s help and forgiveness, not because the people were good, but rather so that the Lord could defend his own honor.
We also were imprisoned by sin and death, and we didn’t deserve for God to come to us and rescue us. We had turned away from the Lord and gone our own way, and he might had left us in our hopeless situation. But God had pity on us and sent Jesus to rescue us. Jesus died on the cross and rose again to defeat sin and death for us. He didn’t only do that to defend his honor by rescuing the people he had made, but he also did it because he loves us. God’s love for us gives us the forgiveness of our sins every day, and makes us his people, now and always.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for having pity on us and sending Jesus to rescue us. Please forgive us our sins. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.