I have gone astray like a lost sheep - A sheep that has wandered away from its fold, and is without a protector. Compare Isaiah 53:6; Matthew 10:6; Matthew 15:24; Matthew 18:12; Luke 15:6; 1 Peter 2:25. I am a wanderer. I have lost the path to true happiness. I have strayed away from my God. I see this; I confess it; I desire to return. It is remarkable that this is almost the only confession of sin in the psalm. This psalm, more than any other, abounds in confident statements respecting the life of the author, his attachment to the law of God, the obedience which he rendered to that law, and his love for it - as well as with appeals to God, founded on the fact that he did love that law, and that his life was one of obedience. This is not, indeed, spoken in a spirit of self-righteousness, or as constituting a claim on the ground of merit; but it is remarkable that there is so frequent reference to it, and so little intermingling of a confession of sin, of error, of imperfection. The psalm would not have been complete as a record of religious experience, or as illustrating the real state of the human heart, without a distinct acknowledgment of sin, and hence, in its close, and in view of his whole life, upright as in the main it had been, the psalmist confesses that he had wandered; that he was a sinner; that his life had been far from perfection, and that he needed the gracious interposition of God to seek him out, and to bring him back.
Seek thy servant - As the shepherd does the sheep that is lost, Luke 15:4-6. So the Saviour came to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19:10. So God seeks the wanderer by his word, by his providence, by his Spirit, to induce him to return and be saved.
For I do not forget thy commandments - In all my wandering; with my consciousness of error; with my sense of guilt, I still do feel that I love thy law - thy service - thy commandments. They are the joy of my heart, and I desire to be recalled from all my wanderings, that I may find perfect happiness in thee and in thy service evermore. Such is the earnest wish of every regenerated heart. Far as such an one may have wandered from God, yet he is conscious of true attachment to him and his service; he desires and earnestly prays that he may be “sought out,” brought back, and kept from wandering anymore.
It angered them also that those who showed only contempt for the rabbis and who were never seen in the synagogues should flock about Jesus and listen with rapt attention to His words. The scribes and Pharisees felt only condemnation in that pure presence; how was it, then, that publicans and sinners were drawn to Jesus? COL 186.1
They knew not that the explanation lay in the very words they had uttered as a scornful charge, “This man receiveth sinners.” The souls who came to Jesus felt in His presence that even for them there was escape from the pit of sin. The Pharisees had only scorn and condemnation for them; but Christ greeted them as children of God, estranged indeed from the Father's house, but not forgotten by the Father's heart. And their very misery and sin made them only the more the objects of His compassion. The farther they had wandered from Him, the more earnest the longing and the greater the sacrifice for their rescue. COL 186.2
All this the teachers of Israel might have learned from the sacred scrolls of which it was their pride to be the keepers and expounders. Had not David written—David, who had fallen into deadly sin—“I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Thy servant”? Psalm 119:176. Had not Micah revealed God's love to the sinner, saying, “Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger forever, because He delighteth in mercy”? Micah 7:18. COL 186.3Read in context »