Theme: Hypocritical Repentance
In this week’s lessons we see the importance of remembering all the blessings that God has given to us.
Scripture: Psalm 78:1-72
The judgment mentioned at the end of the third stanza of Psalm 78 leads to the subject matter of the fourth stanza (vv. 32-39), namely, repentance. When the people were judged they repented. Unfortunately, their repentance was seldom true repentance. Therefore, in words that echo Hosea’s later description of this sickening hypocrisy (in Hosea 6:1-3), Asaph says, “Whenever God slew them, they would seek him; they eagerly turned to him again. They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. But then they would flatter him with their mouths, lying to him with their tongues; their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant” (vv. 34-37).
A hypocritical repentance like this must be nauseating to God. For as Hosea notes at the end of his prophecy, true repentance involves an honest acknowledgement of sin, a turning from it and an appeal to God’s grace (see Hosea 14:1-3). All this is absent here. Nevertheless, says Asaph, God did not deal with the people as their hypocrisy deserved. Instead of destroying them, God “was merciful” and “atoned for their iniquities” (v. 38). “He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return” (v. 39).
This is precisely how God has dealt with us. If God had not chosen to be merciful to us, we would all have perished long ago. But instead of not being merciful and allowing us to perish, God made atonement for our sins by the death of Jesus Christ. He atoned for our iniquities. Certainly a love like this demands a genuine repentance from us and a true following after God in faith and deep gratitude. As Isaac Watts wrote:
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
True. But do we actually respond like this? Isn’t it more often the case that we only give God lip service while nevertheless continuing to go our own way?
What is true repentance?
What does Hosea 6:1-3 teach you about true repentance? Describe the false repentance evident in Hosea’s day.
How did God deal with his people in the psalm? How does God deal with us today?
Reflection: Is there a recurring sin in your life for which you need to have true repentance?
Application: Begin a list of the many things God has given you. Give him thanks and praise.