Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Psalm 32:4 - Dried Up

"My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah." (NASB)
"My strength was dried up (Heb. changed) as by the heat of summer. Selah." (ESV)
"My moisture was changed as with the drought of summer. Selah." (ASV)

I was employed by an orthodontist for several years and often had the privilege of putting braces on peoples' teeth. It was interesting work, to say the least. If one learns anything working in an orthodontic clinic, it's that bonding metal onto teeth requires extreme dryness. We went to great lengths to ensure that the teeth we were working on stayed dry, often resorting to elaborate setups that included cotton, bursts of air, suction, plastic lip retractors, and even chemical drying agents. All of this paraphernalia was deployed with the intent of keeping the teeth extremely dry. If a patient happened to move his tongue and swipe a tooth, the whole process had to be started over again. For me, this was a bit frustrating at times. But after a brace has been bonded to a properly dried tooth, a great deal of force is required to remove it. It typically requires a special pair of plyers to take the brace off, followed by high speed drilling at over 20,000 RPMs to clean up residual adhesive. In many cases, braces will remain in place for 2-3 years before being removed. However, if the slightest bit of moisture is allowed to remain, the brace will usually fall off within a few minutes. If you think about it, most bonding processes involve some type of drying. Paint, caulking, glue, paste and flooring adhesives are all good illustrations of this. Heat is also commonly used in bonding processes such as hot laminating, window sealing, automotive finishes, etc. And most bonding process involve the application of firm pressure at some stage.

What does all of this have to do with Psalm 32, you ask. It's a great question. To answer it, let's consider the elements of verse 4: A heavy hand. Heat. Moisture evaporating. Drying out. Sound familiar? Could it be a bonding process of sorts? Is it possible that God's work in David's life during the time of tormenting guilt was preparation for a stronger bond between the two of them? Was God perhaps transitioning David from a mere taped-on attachment to an orthodontic-style union? Was God pressing him, heating him, and drying him out in order to make his repentance stick? Perhaps I'm applying a modern concept to a primitive text, but the parallels are unmistakable.

David felt like he was dying. He sensed his life and strength draining away. His feelings reflected a sobering reality: every step away from God is a step in the direction of eternal death. God takes this seriously, and if He has lain His hand upon you it is with the purpose of uniting you to Himself and keeping you near Him forever. He will let you die a thousand humbling deaths in the knowledge of your iniquity if that will ultimately draw you closer to Him. We appreciate grace much more when once we have lived for a season without it. Even as believers, we may have these experiences where grace seems absent. In reality, we know we have not been abandoned, but we nevertheless feel the sting of what could be if we were lost eternally.

As one of the great Puritan authors noted, "Till sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet." (Thomas Watson, The Doctrine of Repentance)

Dear friend, if God has allowed you to die under the weight of your guilt, believe and know that His intent is to draw you to Himself, to sanctify and transform you, to securely fasten you to Himself. What blessedness there is in this! Take hold of this truth and flee to Him now - with the resolve illustrated by David in the next verses of Psalm 32.

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