I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant,
for I do not forget thy commandments.
Comedian Steve Martin once offered helpful advice for all those involved in thorny legal situations: just say “I forgot!” That way, he said, you’re off the hook. (“I forgot murder was a crime!”). We laugh at Martin’s suggestion precisely because, in our heart of hearts, we recognize that the moral law is written on the heart and can’t be forgotten. The psalmist knows this. He doesn’t kid himself that he “forgot” God’s commandments. He faces his culpability squarely and says “I have gone astray”. He has been a fool and dumb as a sheep to do so, but is not just a victim of circumstance or some inexplicably bad wiring in the cerebral cortex. And that, so far from trapping him in a corner, is the key to his forgiveness. For God is eager to forgive, but we can’t receive that forgiveness until, after we have made all the allowances for the excusable, we put our finger on that residual core of personal responsibility, call our sins “sin” and come clean. Today, make a fearless moral inventory and take it to God. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).