If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow. – Psalm 7:12
The pursuit had begun. I knew God had drawn the bow of his wrath, and he had aimed it directly at me. The slightest tinge of my guilty conscience made the creaks and groans of the bowstring howl in my ears as it strained for release. I looked for places to hide, but wherever I went, he was there. I first tried to find refuge in morality. I thought, if I could be upright from this point on, then I should be fine. There were two problems with this. First, I was unable to live a righteous life. My imaginary standard fell far short of what was required, and I could not even to live up to my own demands. This misstep only multiplied my guilt. Second, I realized, even if I could live a perfect life from this point on, it would never be able to wash away my past sins.
I had no idea what to do, so I tried to ride out the storm thinking that time could heal all wounds. The problem is, no amount of time can atone for sin. Being chronologically further away from my sin did nothing to cleanse me of my transgressions. There is no statute of limitations on disobeying a Holy God, and his justice requires him to launch the arrows; the wrath of God continued to hang over me like a dark cloud.
Then I reread the passage, “If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow;” (Psalm 7:12). Suddenly, the very passage that caused my heart to fear illuminated my soul with hope. It said, “If a man does not repent.” There was a way out. In my blindness, I had never noticed it before. God’s word was telling me that if a man turns to him, his bow would be at rest. In a flash of light, the Holy Spirit, who had awakened my soul to its peril, illuminated the gospel truth I had heard over the years but never before understood.
People had told me Jesus had gone to the cross as an innocent man to bear the sins of those who would put their faith in Him. I knew of this, but it was not until now that I realized the cup that caused him so much dread was the just punishment for sin. He had not sinned, but the Father sent him to save us by dying in our place. Isaiah 53:10 resounded in my soul, “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt.” The Father had poured out the wrath that I deserved upon his only Son, Jesus. I knew this because my heart was now alive with faith. His Spirit had given me new life.
It all made sense. The picture was clear. The arrows that had been trained upon me, the Father took, aimed them at His Son and let them fly; willingly, the Lord Jesus laid down his life to save us.
The bow of God’s wrath is now resting quietly, and there are no remaining arrows to be pointed in my direction. He has forgiven my sins, and all that is left is acceptance in the beloved. It was his mercy that had been pursuing me. Instead of running from him, all I needed to do was turn around and run to him, because the minute I did, I saw him running to embrace me like the father of the prodigal son.