My Chains Came Off
"Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains" (107:10-14).
I was never chained, but I remember the "darkness and deepest gloom." But the psalmist's words remind me of something far more frightening than ending up in a Colombian prison. They speak of the prison where lives every unrepentant person. This is the state of the soul who doesn't know Jesus Christ as only sufficient and personal Saviour. This is hell on earth (not to be compared to the hell that is to come).
The psalmist's words are echoed in that great hymn of the faith written by Charles Wesley. The fourth stanza of And Can It Be goes like this:
Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off,
My heart was free;
I rose, went forth and followed Thee.
How can it be
That Thou, my God,
Shouldst die for me.
I can't sing that verse without tears coming to my eyes. If it were not for the willingness of the Son of God to come and die in my place on Calvary, I'd still be in "darkness and deepest gloom." But He came, and in His coming provided for me the way by which the chains of sin could be removed. He flung open the prison doors and set me free to follow Him.
The psalmist ends this particular section of Psalm 107 this way: "Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he breaks down the gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron" (107:15, 16).
I wasn't particularly afraid of prison until I was painfully aware of the possibility of having the door clank closed behind me. I didn't want out until I realized that I might have to stay in. And so it is with those who live in the "darkness and deepest gloom" of the unrepentant heart. Until they recognize the state they are in, they will not want out. We do no one any favours by "sanitizing" the evil of sin and its consequences, by not turning the light of Truth on that state.
None of us know how dark it really is until we see light—His Light.