"Leave Me Alone!" (Psalm 39)
Reading: Psalm 39
Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry…Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more.
“Leave me alone!” That’s what my son or daughter says sometimes when I confront them over something they’ve just done that was, well…not very nice. They get irritated by my corrections because, to them, what they did was trivial.
Isn’t all of our sin trivial in the grand scheme of things, though? “Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!” (v. 5). Even if “every intention of the thoughts of my heart were only evil continually” (Gen 6:5), what is that to God when “a thousand years is as one day?” Why does he care so much? Why won’t he just leave me alone?
C.S. Lewis once noted that hell is not really of God’s design so much as it is a realization of the designs of men. As he put it, eventually God will say to rebellious man, “Thy will be done.” Or as Paul puts it again and again in Romans 1, “And God gave them up” to their own desires. In hell, men will finally get what they want; God will leave them alone.
But even as we are exhausted by the doggedness of God’s disciplining hand, the reason for his rebuke is ultimately his fatherly love. “God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons” (Hebrews 12:7-8). To the illegitimate son, the father would say, “Go and do as you please with your life; you have no share in my inheritance.”
But you know what? Even when my son cries out to be left alone, I don’t listen to him. I don’t leave him to his own devices. I don’t give him what he wants. I won’t leave him alone. And as Jesus said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matt 7:11).
The reality is, we are too valuable for him to give up on us. We mean too much to him. Yes, our lives are but a breath, a vapor, vanity and chasing after the wind (see Ecclesiastes). But “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him may not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
No, he will never leave us alone…even when we ask him to.
Father, thank you that when I ask you to leave me alone, you won’t. Thank you for sending the hound of heaven after me again and again. I know I complain because things are hard. And when it’s my fault things are hard, I’m really slow to even acknowledge that. Forgive me. Teach me to be grateful for your love.