Posted on Sep 22, 2015 | 0 comments

A good word for going into the Day of Atonement ….

The Daily Grind
by Skip Moen, D. Phil.

Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Psalm 51:8 NASB

You have broken – Broken bones and a broken heart. David eventually connects the two (as we will see in verse 17), but he starts with the impact of sin before he can reach the reconciliation of forgiveness. The verb is very rare, used only in the Psalms. Here daka means, “to be crushed, to be broken.” In Hebrew phenomenology, David’s experience is as if God is pounding the living daylights out of him, grinding him into powder.

David’s expression tells us something important about repentance. We have to be able to feel the horror of our disobedience and the terror of our violation before we will come to the Lord in confession. Everyone sins, but not everyone feels the weight of sin. Since everyone sins, we might expect everyone to experience the crushing hand of the Lord, but it isn’t so. If it were, the entire world would repent. What usually happens is this: the yetzer ha’ra immediately goes into defensive mode and provides us with excuses, rationalizations and insulation. We might even experience (momentarily) regret, but we quickly construct protective walls to keep true humiliation out. In other words, we learn to live with it. Instead of allowing the emotional trauma to have its proper effect, we retreat into self-protection. We fortify our fragile selves and keep the feelings away. And, as a result, we neither weep nor mourn. We continue. We live with our crimes. We compartmentalize. We stuff them into the dark recesses and pretend that we can go on without confronting the damage. We patch instead of demolish.

Why? Why do we resist the emotional breakdown that leads to broken bones? Why are we so intent on patching up the holes rather than demolishing the leaky structure and starting fresh? The answer is an insight into the inner working of the yetzer ha’ra. We are afraid. We are afraid that if we really let these God-given emotions out of the bottle, we will lose control. We will be humiliated. We will be shamed. We will lose that so-carefully-constructed self-image mirage. We will become lost in a world of emotional breakdown, and if there is one thing that Western thinkers fear more than anything else it is precisely this—to lose control of their emotions.

YHVH’s plan to arrest our behavior and force us to confront our sin is emotionally driven. Rare indeed is the man who comes to repentance due to intellectual argument. Most of us arrive because of the loss of control. We come as damaged goods. We show up broken. Until we let go of our desperate measures to keep everything under control, it is almost impossible to experience the call of repentance. When we stop enlisting distractions, addictions, denial and deflection, when we finally admit our feeling crushed, then there is the possibility of joy. Until then there is only delay.

 

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