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The Grace Project


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Okay well at the risk of alienating just about everybody but in the spirit of non-concealment we really need to speak to the question of the Bible in your hand today. I know, I know. 
Let me open the batting by reminding you that the bible contains the words of God written by men whereas Jesus is the Word of God living in men. The older I get the more I realise that it is only by knowing the Word that I can hope to understand the words. 
For what it’s worth I fully believe that the bible in its original form is inerrant. I believe in the inspiration of the word but I’m afraid I’m not at all convinced by the inerrancy of the Translators. Like it or not us poor Saps are at the mercy of the exegetical and hermeneutical bias of the translator. 
Look at the verse that is before us today, Psalm 40:11; Bible Gateway’s default setting is the NIV and I usually have look at my verse there before using the ESV, my translation of choice. So last night I read the verse and went off to bed scratching my head puzzled by David’s statement…
“Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me.” NIV 
Well I was puzzled I don’t mind telling you. I got to thinking to myself that maybe David was throwing himself a pity-party? Perhaps he’d gone down with nasty dose of Elijah Complex? Happily sleep came before I could wrestle with it for too long. 
Then what do you know, I come back to the text this evening in the ESV and what do I read but … “As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me” 
So which one is it? 
If I read the NIV I’ve gone from David’s “I did nots” to so “you better not!” And that feels like thin ice to me. 
Psalm 40:10 “I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly.11 SO (my addition) … Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
Were I an NIV advocate (and this is not a barrage against that translation btw) it would be tempting to think that I’d found a proof text for straight-line legalism. Eureka I might have shouted, “God does go in for a bit of quid pro quo, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours after all”. 
But back in my ESV I’m brought to another thought – The Lord doesn’t restrain His mercy (well let’s go decimal- grace) not because David didn’t restrain his voice but because to do so would to violate His very nature. 
He doesn’t restrain his love because He can’t. He is The Fixed Other Lover and His love in unconditional. 
Even when poor old David was unable to restrain himself with Uriah’s wife and even when he compounded indiscretion of adultery with the outrage murder even then the Lord did not restrain His mercy from him. Even when David ill advisedly counted the troops, yet still His steadfast love and your faithfulness preserved him.
So I end up with this thought – The reason that David’s lips are unrestrained goes to the very heart of worship, which is simply and profoundly, loves response to Love.
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