"Behold, for peace I had great bitterness" (Is. 38:17).
1. The Tragedy of Sin's Deceptiveness
a. Bitterness follows persistent hardness (Heb. 3:13; Ps. 95:8; Prov. 28:14; Rom. 2:5).
b. Bitterness follows blatant wickedness (Job 20:4-29; Job 27:13-23; Ps. 9:15).
c. Bitterness follows complacent self-righteousness (Prov. 30:12; Jer. 2:35; 2 Cor. 10:12).
2. The Victory of Love's Attractiveness— "But thou hast in love... delivered"
a. The meaning of divine love (Deut. 7:8; Rom. 5:8; 1 John 3:1).
b. The measure of divine love (John 3:16; Eph. 2:4, 5).
c. The magnetism of divine love "up from the pit" (Jer. 31:3; John 12:32).
3. The Reality of God's Graciousness— "Thou hast east all my sins behind thy back!"
a. Its expression-"Thou hast cast".
b. Its extent-"all my sins",
c. Its effectiveness-"behind thy back"
Illustration-love Will Find a Way
It was a cold night. Outside the little church, keeping well within the shadows, there stood a young woman, clutching a babe to her breast and listening intently to the opening hymn. She was thin, almost emaciated, and poorly dressed, her shoes worn down at the heels. She started, and shrank back at the sound of a voice, with its unmistakable Welsh accent addressing her. "Good evening. Enjoying the singing?" It was the minister's wife who had been detained and was arriving late for the service. She looked intently at the girl, for she was not much past her teens, and saw the tell-tale marks of vice etched upon her face. The girl mumbled something, and made to move away. But the opening question was followed by another. "Would you care to go inside to listen to the service? By the way, I am the minister's wife, and I'll sit with you, if you would like me to do so."
There was a long pause. Then the girl began to speak timidly at first, but soon with more freedom. "If you only knew the kind of girl I am, you wouldn't be seen talking to me. This is my child, and I am unmarried. Oh! if you only knew the life I've lived you would not be asking me to go in with you to Church." Then followed a shocking confession of guilt and failure, as the words poured out from an over-full heart. As she concluded and bowed her head in shame, impulsively the minister's wife put her arms around the girl and kissed her, whispering as she did so: "But Jesus loves you in spite of all that, dear. He loved you enough to die for you."
The girl put her hand to her cheek where the lips of a pure woman had touched her in a loving caress. "You kissed me," she said in wonder. She wept her way to Calvary and found the forgiveness that blots out all transgression.
In a short space of time the minister had the inestimable joy of leading her parents, and brothers, and sisters, to the Saviour, and of marrying her to a good man. Happy in her new-found sense of release from bitterness, she is rejoicing in the peace of God, another trophy of love's intervention.
Alfred L. Greenway writes from Hamilton East, New Zealand, where he is a minister of the gospel and teacher at The Bible Training Center.