Sometimes our confession before God is that we are not sure that he hears us. We are sure that if he sees us, he certainly won’t forgive what he sees. We keep our distance. We look around for anything and everything to satisfy us that doesn’t involve him. We are ashamed. We are broken. We are tired of giving into temptation and yet simultaneously still believing we will find some satisfaction in our sins. How could a holy God who sees and hears still decide to love, forgive, and satisfy? It is beyond our reasoning. We need faith. We need the work of the Holy Spirit to convince us that what the psalmist says in Psalm 65 is true.
"Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed. O you who hear prayer to you all flesh shall come. When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions. Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple." (Psalm 65:1-4)
When God gives us faith to believe verses 2 and 3, we will with confidence proclaim verses 1, 3-4.
“O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come.” Our God hears prayers. I know that you are familiar with that sentence, but go back and read it. Now read this next sentence out loud. God hears my prayer. He is not deaf to your cries. He is not ambivalent about your heartache. He doesn’t know the word apathy. He hears your prayers.
“When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions” is an echo of Micah 7:18–19, “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”
It seems too good to be true, and yet it is the truest of all truths. This is our God. This God sees and chooses to trample our sins under his feet. This God knows and chooses to throw our sins into the depths of the seas. This God delights in steadfast love. Our God hears our prayers.
This is our God. Our God who chooses to bring us near. Our God who cannot stand to be in the presence of sin and yet made a way to encircle us in his arms. It is only good news to be drawn near to God when you know that you will receive welcome there. He not only draws you near, but he also welcomes you. “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2). He not only receives you and eats with you but also feeds you with his very body broken for you. He promises to welcome us to our forever home: “And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3). We truly are the blessed, the happy ones, the privileged ones, to dwell in his courts.
“We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple.” Where else can we be satisfied but with him? Where else do all the longings of our hearts find their fulfillment yet in the goodness and holiness of his temple? As we go from one thing to the next looking for satisfaction, when we come to back to our senses as the prodigal son did, we will remember that there is only one place that brings us happiness.
And so as we remember all these things, as we rejoice in his atonement, as we see that he hears us, that he draws us near, that he satisfies us, we will then say with resounding conviction, “Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you vows will be performed.” How can we respond with anything but devotion? May our hearts forever be drawn to such a good and gracious God.