“Remember the hole of the pit from which you were dug” said Isaiah the prophet. It’s a spiritual exercise that the Psalmist models for us in Psalm 40:1-3. Although the exact nature of the pit is not specified – it could be the pit of affliction, of persecution, of mental distress, or of family trouble – it’s most likely it was the pit of sin and guilt. When I look back at that pit I remember it was:
Dirty: I couldn’t see it, feel it, or smell it for many years, but by God’s grace I came to see I was in a filthy, slimy, muddy, miry, disgusting bog of slime and muck.
Deep: Way too deep to climb out of, and getting deeper by the day as the weight of sin and guilt pressed heavier and heavier upon me.
Dark: The Psalmist called it a fearful pit, and full of fear it was, at times horrifying and terrifying with its darkness and hopelessness.
Disabling: Sin and condemnation drained my strength. Repeatedly trying to climb out exhausted and weakened me. I’ve since found out that no one has ever climbed out of it themselves.
Dangerous: There were innumerable unseen dangers in that pit, including spiritual diseases and plagues, meaning the longer in it, the less likely I was to get out of it.
Devilish: Although I couldn’t see him, the devil was always there in the dark, holding me down, pushing me down, pulling my legs away whenever I tried to escape.
Deadly: There were billions of skeletons at the bottom of this pit. Untold numbers perished in it.
Depressing: It was sometimes so awful, so dark, so fearful, so hopeless, I just wanted to give up and give in.
Deceiving: Here’s the scariest thing of all – I was in this pit for 21 years and I never realized it. I was just about over my head in muck, and I thought I was safe and sound. So blinded, so foolish, so deceived!
Damning: Dying in this pit results in the bottomless pit, sinking forever and ever and ever.
Do you remember it?
But what’s the point in going back to such a hideous and ugly place? Why remember the hole of the pit from which we’ve been dug?
So that we can appreciate the solid rock all the more, sing the new song even louder, and enjoy calculating the incalculable sum of God’s mercies towards us (Psalm 40:1-5).
David Murray is Professor of Old Testament & Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. This article first appeared on his blog, Head Heart Hand, and is used with permission.