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Monday, March 30, 2020
Remember not, O God,
the sins of long ago;
in tender mercy visit us,
distressed and humbled low.
O Lord, our Savior, help,
and glorify your name;
deliver us from all our sins
and take away our shame.
Then, safe within your fold,
we will exalt your name;
our thankful hearts with songs of joy
your goodness will proclaim.
“Remember Not, O God” (vv. 1–3)
from The New Metrical Version of the Psalms (1909)
Hymn 430, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal
“Dad and Mom, please forget this ever happened” is a plea my wife and I have heard more than once from each of our four sons over many years.
It may come after a son places a metal cup in the microwave and pushes the “high” button; or
after a son shears off a car’s rearview window while driving; or after a son stumbles home early in the morning after a late night carousing; or after a son calls us more than a few not-nice names when we cut short a helmetless minibike ride in the alley.
I could go on—and on—but you get the picture.
Our usual response: “We will not forget, but we will forgive.” My wife delivers this message in a much kinder tone than me.
In the hymn “Remember Not, O God,” which is largely Psalm 79 put to music, the lyricist in the opening line asks God to “remember not” prior sins and to “take away our shame.” Surely the hymnist, like the psalmist, knows that God’s memory is not faulty: God is all-knowing and all-remembering.
What they, and we, want is for God to forgive us—not forget. We trust God with our innermost worries and thoughts and seek God’s deliverance, not because God forgets our failings but because God remembers and forgives us. The answer to the riddle of what is freely given, never earned, and provides eternal life: God’s grace.
Any child—including each of our sons—wants to be fully known and fully loved. God provides this to us without any plea.
Dear God of mercy and love, let us always remember we are “safe within your fold” not because you forget our many sins and transgressions but because you remember and forgive. Amen.
Written by Phil Calian, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church
Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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