Can the darkness speak of your wonderful deeds? Can anyone in the land of forgetfulness talk about your righteousness? (Psalm 88:12 NLT). The psalmist, Heman the Ezrahite, had hit rock-bottom as he penned this psalm, feeling like his life of service to God had been useless. As he poured out his desperation to the Lord, he closed the psalm with these words: You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend (Psalm 88:18 NLT). Yikes. That’s pretty low, Heman.
The “land of forgetfulness” is figurative language for the grave, where no thought or memory occurs. In verse 5, Heman says, they have left me among the dead, and I lie like a corpse in a grave. I am forgotten, cut off from your care. Death and the grave would cut Heman off from remembering his failures and sin. It seemed like a good escape plan. A natural solution for a spiritual problem.
There is nothing to be gained from rehearsing our failures and shortcomings over and over again. It didn’t profit Heman at all, except to write an extremely doleful song that was sung to a lively tune entitled The Suffering of Affliction. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, we can access immediate forgiveness through the shed blood of our Savior. He suffered the ultimate separation from God when He hung on the cross and was cut off from the Father. Jesus took our sins to the “land cut off” and to the “land of forgetfulness” where they are completely forgotten.
If only Heman’s heavy heart could have been comforted as ours can! The Hebrew word for “forget” means to ignore, to neglect, to forsake, to willfully act in disregard to a person or thing. When the Lord forgives our sin and then forgets our sin and wrongdoings, He chooses to ignore them; to disregard them. Sometimes there are consequences for our sin, but the Lord does not categorize us forever in sin pockets or label us as losers based on our wrongdoings. He says, in Jeremiah 31:34, I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.
It all goes to the Land of Forgetfulness. Psalm 103:12 (NKJV) says, as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Why the east and west? How far is that? Some sins are really weighty, aren’t they? Surely He keeps them a little closer in view…
But no, He doesn’t. There is the North Pole and the South Pole. If you start at the North Pole and travel all the way to the South Pole, there is a definite starting point, the North Pole, and a definite ending point, the South Pole. However, in going from east to west, there is no East Pole or West Pole. There is no starting point and no ending point—no beginning or end. So it is with God’s Land of Forgetfulness. He has a never-ending capacity to forget our sin, and He lovingly, mercifully, graciously chooses to do that.
The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry, and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; He doesn’t deal harshly with us as we deserve…He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:8,9,10, 12 NLT).
© 2021, Chris Werre