This is the second part in a twelve part devotional commentary on “O Holy Night.” See the introduction here.
Long lay the world In sin and error pining,
‘Til He appear’d And the soul felt its worth.
The dark world into which our Savior was born is one living in sin. Paul, quoting Psalms, tells us:
None is righteous, no not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18)
“No one seeks for God… no one does good.” This is captured well in “long lay the world in sin and error pining.” Instead of seeking God and doing good, the world (in error) pines after lesser things, idols crafted by human hands- their god is their belly.
Pining is one of those older words we don’t hear very often. It does refer to a desperate longing, but it also has a more archaic meaning of discontent and fret. Both reflect what the Bible tells us about the state of the world. In rebellion against God it seeks satisfaction in things that do not satisfy. It is a restless world that will not embrace the one cure that can save it.
Thankfully there is a message of hope attached to this dire assessment of the world. That hope is found in the appearance of our Savior. His light is the cure for our darkness. All the gods of this world will not satisfy or give meaning to lives that seem like dust in the wind.
Jesus the Christ satisfies thirsty souls that rest in Him and pine for Him. He makes our souls feel their worth because “He is the image of the invisible God” in who’s very image we were made. Only our Creator can give us purpose and fulfill us, and we can find much joy and comfort in the fact that He has come and accomplished this.