Monday, August 29, 2011

Three Leaps For Joy

"An evil man is snared in his own transgressions, but a righteous man sings and rejoices" (Proverbs 29:6). 

I am musing on this verse from my morning's reading in Proverbs. First of all (I muse), it should be noted that the righteousness of this righteous man is not his own but is a gift. This man's righteousness was received; in the Old Testament and today, this imputed righteousness is the free gift of God, bestowed because of his lavish mercy, on un-righteous former transgressors! The righteous man of Proverbs 29:6 has been declared right with God through faith in Christ's atoning work. He is a humble man, grateful and astonished at the grace given to him in Christ.

So this happy man, though beset by many afflictions and trials, goes singing and rejoicing on his way. The evil man, in the meantime, is the one who loves and clings to his sin. He believes that to give it up and put his trust in this Jesus would be the ultimate folly. Ironically and tragically, the very sin he clings to constantly proves to be a snare and a trap to him. He becomes entangled and ensnared. There is no song in his mouth and no rejoicing in his heart. Declaring in his heart that for him "there is no God," he sadly becomes the ultimate fool (Psalm 14:1).

Reading of the other man, the righteous man, I was reminded of Christian in Pilgrim's Progress. Though afflicted by temptations and trials on his journey to the Celestial City, Christian and his companions could often be heard singing and rejoicing as they went. Here John Bunyan describes the way Christian came to be relieved of his heavy burden of sin, declared clean and right before God, and the glad song he sang about it:

    Now I saw in my dream, that the highway up which Christian was to go, was fenced on either side with a Wall, and that Wall is called Salvation. Up this way therefore did burdened Christian run, but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back.

    He ran thus until he came at a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a Cross, and a little below in the bottom, a Sepulcher. So I saw in my Dream, that just as Christian came up to the Cross his burden loosed from off his Shoulders, and fell from off his back; and began to tumble; and so continued to do, till it came to the mouth of the Sepulcher, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.

    Then was Christian glad and lightsom, and said with a merry heart, He hath given me rest, by his sorrow; and life, by his death. Then he stood still a while, to look and wonder; for it was very surprizing to him, that the sight of the Cross should thus ease him of his burden. He looked therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks.

    Now as he stood looking and weeping, behold three shining ones came to him, and saluted him with Peace be to thee: so the first said to him, Thy sins be forgiven. The second stript him of his Rags, and clothed him with change of Raiment. The third also set a mark in his forehead, and gave him a Roll with a Seal upon it, which he bid him look on as he ran, and that he should give it at the Celestial Gate: so they went on their way. Then Christian gave three leaps for joy, and went on singing.

Thus far did I come loaden with my sin, 
Nor could ought ease the grief I was in, 
Till I came hither: What a place is this! 
Must here be the beginnning of my bliss? 
Must here the burden fall from off my back? 
Must here the strings that bound it to me, crack? 
Blest Cross! Blest Sepulcher! blest rather be 
The Man that there was put to shame for me.

Three leaps for joy!

(Text from Oxford World's Classics 2003 The Pilgrim's Progress)


Laurie M. said...

True, true words!

ken starkey said...

So appropriate that Christian wasn't instructed to roll his burden into its grave, that when the burden had fallen, he was separated from it completely and successfully, requiring no effort from him...

The ransom paid, the burden relieved, the spring flowed from his eyes in the glorious light of the cross. Soli Deo gloria!

Jeri Tanner said...

Yes, the strings that bound it to him cracked!