17 Then one day I went into your sanctuary, O God,
and I thought about the destiny of the wicked.
18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path
and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.
19 In an instant they are destroyed,
swept away by terrors.
20 Their present life is only a dream
that is gone when they awake.
When you arise, O Lord,
you will make them vanish from this life.

It is only because of God that our spiritual sanity returns. He keeps us from falling completely off the cliff into that same destruction by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is our restrainer and our protector, and He is Who speaks to our heart and reminds us of the ultimate truths.

21 Then I realized how bitter I had become, (the NASB says When my heart was embittered)
how pained I had been by all I had seen.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant—
I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.

These are some of the most painful verses in this Psalm for me, for they speak of the understanding of the grievousness of personal sin. This is where we wind up when we look at life through secular eyes and when we forget who we are in Christ. We become faithless and wandering souls; miserable to the core of our being.

Bitterness eats away at the heart blotting out all that is spiritual about us. We do become foolish as Job’s wife was foolish (Job 2:10) because in our bitterness we reject God’s ways, we doubt Him and we begin to believe He is not for us but against us!

Bitterness becomes a python around the heart, slowly winding its way around and around, closing it off, choking the spiritual life out of it and us. We distance ourselves from the Word and our spiritual disciplines as it gains ground in our lives and before long we seem to be but a shell of who we once were.

This dear reading friends is a terrifying place to be. One day the Gardner comes in and shines His Light in through a sermon or a passage of Scripture, or through a kind and loving person who tells you they can see that you are in trouble. Sometimes it takes a series of events, sermons or people to get through to you but rejoice, because God is persistent!

The humbling that accompanies His Light is great…once a little truth is shining in your heart again so much is suddenly clear and if you are like me, you look on in horror at what you see there. The place is a wreck! All these idols, all those altars, all those pieces of wrong thoughts scattered about…”I want…”, “I need..”, “I deserve…” “God did this…” “He is not for me…” and in those moments you realize that you have been accusing God of sinning against you, charging God with wrongdoing, and blaming Him for your troubles. Each time you have operated out of your feelings rather than out of truth you have gone back there and set up more idols and more altars…
And yet…

23 Yet I still belong to you;
you are holding my right hand.
24 You will keep on guiding me with your counsel,
leading me to a glorious destiny.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?

Nevertheless…yet….ah, what sweet wonderful words! God has been keeping me despite my desire not to be kept. Jesus Christ has been praying for me and it was me He prayed for in John 17:11,12. He reminds me that He will not let me go despite my tantrums and despite my refusal to bow to His sovereignty over my life for those moments, days, and weeks. Is it any wonder that the Psalmist bursts into praise?
There can be no greater testimony to the goodness and mercy of God than a repentant sinner, one who knows they have been saved by grace- again…still…

I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.
27 But those who desert him will perish,
for you destroy those who abandon you.
28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter,
and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.

To experience the welcoming spiritual embrace of our Loving Father in heaven who yearns for our fellowship with Him and Who has made it all possible even knowing we would experience times like these. It is too wonderful for words! How good it is to be near God, how trustworthy He is, how privileged we are to be called His children!