Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to your mercy remember you me for your goodness' sake, O LORD.
Remember not the sins of my youth. This prayer implies -
I. PAINFUL MEMORIES. Brought up under the eye of God, our life should have been pure. It is our shame that it has been otherwise. Looking back, we are distressed at the remembrance of our follies and offences. Oh that we had hearkened unto God! then it might have been with us as with the holy Child Jesus -
"A son that never did amiss,
That never sham'd his mother's kiss,
Nor cross'd her fondest prayer."
II. DEEPENING SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY. Life is one whole. Amidst all changes personal identity remains. The present is linked to the past. We are answerable, not only for what we do to-day, but for what we have done in our earliest days. The sins of our youth are "ours." They form part of our burden, and press upon us the more heavily because of the added sins of riper years.
III. GROWING CONSCIOUSNESS OF THE EVIL OF SIN. Once, perhaps, we thought lightly of the sins of youth. They were but errors and faults common to all - the inevitable result of ignorance and inexperience at the worst. We were only sowing our wild oats. But now we look at things differently. We have seen not only the seed, but the fruit (Romans 6:21). We have, besides, gained insight, and our consciences have become more tender from living near to God. We judge, therefore, not only with better evidence, but by a higher standard.
IV. MISERABLE SENSE OF HELPLESSNESS. We see and deplore the evil, but cannot remedy it. We are like one standing by a house on fire. There was a time when we could have stopped the flame, but it is now too late. Perhaps some brother or sister has erred through our fault. If counsel could avail, we would give it. If tears and repentance on our part could atone, they would not be wanting. But no; it is too late; our only help is in God.
V. TERRIBLE FOREBODINGS. Think how distressing it must be to see the bad results of our sins in others. Some have died who had been hurt by us; others are living now in sin, whom we had helped to lead astray. Our own sins are reflected in the sins of others. Of Jeroboam it is said, "Who sinned, and made Israel to sin." Alas! he has had many followers. The sins of youth may become the groans of age (Job 13:26).
VI. FAITH IN THE MERCY AND POWER OF GOD. In our distress we turn to God. We cannot hope that he will forget; but he can forgive. We must not think that he will alter his law - that "whatsoever a man seweth, that shall he also reap;" but he is able to change our minds and hearts, so that we shall accept his law as holy and just and good; and then what we have regarded as stern rebuke will be turned into loving discipline, and our severest chastisements will end in our highest good. What a blessed change it makes, when into the confusions and the miseries and the sorrows of this world we bring the light and the love of God! We make our confession to him, and find peace. We cast our burden upon him, and are sustained. - W.F.
Parallel VersesKJV: Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O LORD.