but there is forgiveness

Something John Owen says on Psalm 130.

There is then no cause why those who are under a call to repentance should question whether there is forgiveness in God, or not. … ‘Come,’ says the Lord to the souls of men, ‘leave your sinful ways, turn to me, humble yourselves with broken and contrite hearts.’

‘Alas!’ say poor convinced sinners, ‘we are poor, dark and ignorant creatures – or, we are old in sin, or great sinners, or backsliders, or have fallen often into the same sins – can we expect there should be forgiveness for us?’

Why, you are under God’s invitation to repentance; and to disbelieve forgiveness is to call into question the truth and holiness and faithfulness of God. … In the very fact that he has instituted this duty, God engages all his attributes to make it good, that he has pardon and mercy for sinners.

This comes from the part where Owen is expanding on the truth in the third and fourth verses of this short psalm – ‘If thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, o Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.’ It’s very strange that such a plain statement can be so difficult to accept, considering too that it should be such welcome news. But writers like Owen knew how hard our hearts can work, against our own interests and against the clearest revelations of the gospel, to avoid the force of statements like this, and that’s why his expositions are so full of demonstrations of why these things are certainly true, and so full of exhortations to therefore believe them.

‘Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.’ Isaiah 1:18

Practical Exposition on Psalm 130, by John Owen, first published 1668. Quote from p204 of the Religious Tract Society 1836 reprint.


2 thoughts on “but there is forgiveness

  1. The pastor of my church just completed a Tuesday morning ladies Bible study on Psalm 130. John Owen published an exposition of this psalm. Octavius Winslow also wrote a book on it. And now you’ve just quoted Owen. There’s just something about Psalm 130…


  2. Yes it is special i think! There is a great sense of longing, arising from the sense of sin, but going towards the mercies that are available.

    There’s that phrase in verse 7 as well – plenteous redemption – it’s in the Scottish Metrical Version as well. ‘Let Israel hope in the Lord, for with him mercies be; And plenteous redemption is ever found with him.’


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