Lord, all my desire is before You and my sighing is not hidden from You. Psalm 38:10 (Hebrew text – Hebrew Heart media translation)
Desire – Did you think David uses the word ta’avati (“my desire”) to describe his spiritual longing for intimate relationship with God? Have you lifted this verse from its context in order to use it as a model of desiring holiness? Better read the first nine verses again. They are filled with physical distress, festering wounds, illness and discomfort as a result of David’s sin. In context, this word can’t be about David’s yearning for God’s goodness. In context, David proclaims that God sees all his ungodly desires. This is the battle of the yetser ha’ra raging in David. The same word that shows up in Genesis 3:6 is employed to express David’s seductive terrors. No wonder he sighs. Part of him wants to fulfill those cravings. Part of him is greedy for his own relief. (Both greed and craving are also meanings of ta’avah). What does David discover? God sees it all. God sees the heart of darkness boiling within us. And God is not afraid.
But we are afraid, aren’t we? We are afraid to look at the real darkness within. We sometimes feel caught in the trap. Our desires are powerful, perhaps even overwhelming. We wish we could hide, especially from our Lord. Just like Adam, once we discover the truth of our second-agenda condition, we want to run for cover. But God does not hide. He looks right into the mess we have allowed to ferment and says, “Come back to Me.” David recognizes that the first step toward verse 16, a verse of hope, is exposure. Until I acknowledge that God sees me for all that I am, I can’t make much progress toward righteousness. Life on this planet is always a fight. God knows that too. If I pretend that I am just fine, that there is no battle left in the depths of my person, then I am the one hiding.
It’s important to notice that David’s metaphors for his present state are particularly Hebraic. They are all about tangible, physical conditions. Wounds, sleep disturbance, weakness, deafness, dumbness, burning in the loins and general illness describe the symptoms of sin. The Western Greek world views sin as an inner malady of the soul requiring spiritual and psychological counseling. Greek sin drives me to the therapist. Hebrew sin drives me to the Surgeon. There’s a big difference. David’s view of sin means that others observe his aliments and rightly conclude that he is having problems with God. I wonder if we would draw that conclusion about what we observe. Probably not. And what a shame that we are blind to the whole-person disruption sin causes. How can we help if we don’t see?
Ah, but God sees. He sees it all. All the corruption. All the failure. All the fight. All the self-deprecation. God sees – and He loves us anyway. There is no hope in me. I am in the heart of darkness. But there is an answer. “For in You, YHWH, I hope, You will answer, Lord Elohiym.”
Topical Index: desire, ta’avah, darkness, hope, Psalm 38:10