Mine Iniquities Have Taken Hold Upon Me
Christ’s being made sin and the transfer of our sins from us to Christ is clearly revealed in the Psalms in unmistakably clear language. Here the Lord Jesus Christ calls our sins his own, because “He hath made him sin for us.”
In the fortieth Psalm the One speaking is, beyond all doubt, our Savior. We know that because the Holy Spirit tells us that it is Christ who is speaking here (Heb. 10:5). He knew that being made sin for us, he would be brought into a horrible pit and filled with distress. Yet, his love for us was and is so great that in verse 7 he declares his readiness to assume a body, and to accomplish his Father’s will in the salvation of his chosen, agreeably to the ancient settlements written in the Volume of the Book, saying, — “Lo! I come, I delight to do thy will, O my God.” Then in verses 11 and 12 he prays for deliverance from his deep distresses, saying…
“Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.”
This is exactly the same thing we read in John 12:27-28.
Why was the Son of God brought to such sorrow and grief? Here is the answer. — “He made him sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him!” Indeed, he could never have suffered the painful, shameful, ignominious death of the cross as our Substitute had he not been made sin for us. Justice would never have allowed it. The Lord God declares, “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.” (Pro. 17:15; Ex. 23:7).
Hear the Savior’s words in Psalm 40:12, and worship him. — “For innumerable evils have compassed me about.” He was beset on every side with evil. Countless woes compassed our great Substitute and Sin-bearer. Spurgeon said, “Our sins were innumerable, and so were his griefs.” From every quarter, all the accumulated sins of all his people, for all time, in all parts of the world, were made to be his! The Blessed One of God, who knew no sin and did no sin, was made sin! Read on. —
“Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up.” — He had no sin, but sins were laid on him, and he took them as his own. “He was made sin for us.” “The transfer of sin to the Savior was real,” Spurgeon wrote, “and produced in him as man the horror which forbade him to look into the face of God, bowing him down with crushing anguish and woe intolerable.”
What would our sins have done to us eternally if the Friend of sinners had not condescended to take them all upon himself? Oh, blessed Scripture! “He hath made him sin for us!” Oh, marvellous depth of love, that made the perfectly immaculate Lamb of God to stand in the sinner’s place, and bear the horror of great trembling, which sin must bring upon those who are forever keenly conscious of it in hell!
“They are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.” — The pains of God’s holy fury against sin, his unbending justice and unmitigated wrath were beyond calculation, and the Savior’s soul was so crushed with them, that he was sore amazed, and very heavy, even unto a sweat of blood. His strength was gone, his spirit sank, he was in an agony. He cried, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death” (Ps. 22:14-15).
It was the thought and anticipation of being made sin for us, not of simply paying the debt due unto our sins, but of being made sin, that caused his bloody sweat in Gethsemane. It was this fact, the fact that he was made sin for us, that caused him to be forsaken of his Father as he hung upon the cursed tree on Golgotha’s hill (Ps. 22:1-3).
David understood what he wrote in this Psalm and was utterly overwhelmed by it. “Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered” (Ps. 40:5). O Spirit of God, let me never cease to be overwhelmed by the love of God in Christ, which constrained my all-glorious Redeemer to be made sin for me!
In Psalm 69:1-5 we again hear Immanuel calling our sins his own as he hangs upon the cursed tree, suffering the wrath of God for us.
“Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God. They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away. O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee.”
How could they be “his” otherwise than by this act of wondrous wisdom, justice, and grace. — “He hath made him sin for us!” As debts are transferred to the surety, our sins were transferred to our Savior. “Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer” (Luke 24:46). Since he became voluntarily responsible, “ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:26.)