Restoration of the Fallen
15 My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
There are two ways in which this Scripture can be read. By keeping our eyes on the Lord we are not watching where we place every step. When we go through difficult places we generally want to be walking with our heads down so that we can see where we we are going and not slip or fall. Instead, to avoid the pitfalls we are to keep our eyes on God for he will keep us from stumbling.
While at the outset this seems to be the most direct explanation for the verse there is another idea which can be found. David focused his eyes on heaven and yet there were times that he found his feet in the net. He wants to behold God’s glory but he’s having to live and endure the misery of this world. There are times when God will protect his people and keep them from falling into the net, but he also promises that if we fall, he will come and rescue us.
The word “net” is often used as a metaphor for temptation. Every single follower of God, even as they try to keep their gaze upon God may have the net of temptation near them. David had his weak moments and we know that he succumbed to temptation. God had to “pluck” at him. Plucking is not a gentle word and there are times that we need to sharply feel the pain of what it is that we have done. For saints who have fallen the process of restoration can often be painful and the Lord may pluck at us sharply so that we realize how bitter the sin was. David, after his experience with Bathsheba certainly felt the sharp pain and embarrassment of his behavior. His restoration was not gentle.
However, the good news is that mercy can be found here. As we keep our eyes on the Lord, he will rescue us from the nets that the enemy places in our path. Even if we have fallen into sin he rescue us, “plucking” us out of the dangerous net, if we keep our eyes on him. Too often when we fall we want to look around and seek out the advice and direction of others. God wants us to keep our eyes firmly fixed upon him and the God of mercy, the God of restoration, will pluck our feet from the net.
I have watched too many good people fall. Probably the first thing they would say is that they failed to keep their focus on the Lord. They became too busy with the “good” things that they were doing and became so distracted that they lost perspective. Their eyes were not toward him.
The net of temptation was subtle. Little by little the net began to ensure them and it was not until there was a major problem that they realized that they were caught.
When caught in the net of temptation, how do we respond? The Lord says that he plucks out my feet. This can be a painful and uncomfortable process, but one which is necessary to be set free. Within the community of faith this corresponds to a process of repentance and restoration. Here I would like to caution the community of faith — there are times that we keep plucking for far too long! Notice the Scripture doesn’t say that it’s those around you who do the plucking, but God does the plucking. It is the responsibility of the faith community to make it possible to redirect the gaze of the individual toward the Lord. When David had sinned and the prophet came to visit him, the prophet was simply God’s messenger. He didn’t rub it in, but simply helped David recognize his sin. He then helped David find a way back to fixing his gaze upon the Lord. The punishment and pain which resulted came about naturally without needing to be heaped on by those around.
God forgave David and he was restored. If God can forgive David, he can restore us when we find ourselves trapped in the net. I have far too many friends who are afraid of the faith community for they have been plucked until they are bleeding. May we have mercy and remember that our responsibility is to point people’s gaze in the direction of the Lord.
Lord, may we be a people of reconciliation and restoration through you. Amen.