See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive.
For the Lord hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.
Psalm 33 (LXX)
‘…his own who are in bonds he spurns not.’ Would anyone familiar with the hymn ‘And Can It Be’ not be reminded immediately of the penultimate verse?
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast-bound in sin and nature’s night.
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray;
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light.
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.
It is the lesson I forget most often, I think: that God rescues us because we need it, not because we deserve it; Christ came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Thus the last line: ‘I rose, went forth, and followed thee.’ And, as I am reminded often by theologians I read (Rowan Williams comes to mind particularly), the rising and going forth is not a once-and-for-all repentance. Again and again, I ind myself ‘in bonds’: I need rescuing more often than I like to admit.
But not more often than God is willing to save.