"Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah."
All through the history of the Children of Israel how often God forgave their sins. From Egypt all the way through their return from captivity God showed Himself to faithfully love and forgive Israel (Jacob) for the sins of the people. Psalm 85 is addressing God and Israel after their return from captivity. We will focus on verse two today, but it would be a great time to read this Psalm before continuing in reading this.
“Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people,”
This is so like the holy character of the LORD. He forgives His people. Spurgeon asks, “Who is a pardoning God like thee, O Jehovah? Who is so slow to anger, so ready to forgive?”1 And the answer is, “no one!” Jehovah is the only God who forgives our sin and pardons our iniquity.
“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon,” (Isaiah 55:7).
“And I [the LORD] will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me,” (Jeremiah 33:8).
Throughout the Old Testament, we witness God’s great faithful love for His people. His people forsook Him and were so often faithless, and yet He forgave their sin and unfaithfulness. And if we are honest with ourselves, we must also say, “How merciful is our God!” Our unfaithfulness to Him stands out in stark contrast to His complete faithfulness. And in His mercy, He has forgiven our sin at the Cross of His Son.
“Thou hast covered all their sin. Selah.”
Spurgeon again: “All of it, every spot, and wrinkle, the veil of love has covered all. Sin has been divinely put out of sight. Hiding it beneath the propitiatory; covering it with the sea of the atonement, blotting it out, making it to cease to be, the Lord has put it so completely away that even his omniscient eye sees it no more. What a miracle is this!”2
Spurgeon goes on to say that it would be easier to cover up the sun than to cover our sin, and yet in God’s great atonement, He has removed our sin as far as the east is from the west. To know this gracious God is to know forgiveness from sin.
Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord3
1 Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
yonder on Calvary’s mount out-poured,
there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin.
2 Dark is the stain that we cannot hide,
what can avail to wash it away!
Look! there is flowing a crimson tide;
whiter than snow you may be today.
3 Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
freely bestowed on all who believe;
you that are longing to see his face,
will you this moment his grace receive?
1. C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, the electronic version in eSword.
2. C.H. Spurgeon, ibid.
3. “Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord,” author: Julia H. Johnston (1911). Copyright status, Public Domain.