In one verse King David says: “I place God before me always” (“שויתי הוי’ לנגדי תמיד”). But in another he says: “My sin is before me always” (“וחטאתי נגדי תמיד”). How do they go together?
First, let us note that the combined gematria of “God” (הוי’, 26), and “my sin” (חטאתי, 428) = “always” (תמיד, 454), the concluding word of both phrases, of both states of consciousness. The word “always” is what creates the apparent mutual exclusion of the two phrases. How can one always place in the fore of his consciousness the Presence of God and simultaneously see his sin staring him in the face?
The answer lies in the way we just phrased the question.
I look at God, I look for Him in everything I see. But all the while my sin is also there in the background, staring at me and reminding me of my existential lowliness, my distance from God.
What does it mean to see God against the background of my sin, which is never ready to take its eyes off me?
Would it not be for the consciousness of my sin staring me in the face I would not experience God’s infinite compassion towards me. Although I am far from Him He is so close to me, loving me and being compassionate no matter what.
In Kabbalah, this dual, paradoxical experience of closeness to God in virtue of His infinite compassion, together with a sense of existential lowliness and distance from Him, is called a “unification,” – the unification of mercy and lowliness, the unification of the Holy One blessed be He and the collective soul of Israel (the Congregation of Israel).
God created the world the way He did for the sake of our achieving this unification in our consciousness.
Jeremiah expresses this unification in four words: “From afar God appears to me” (“מרחוק הוי’ נראה לי”). “From afar” corresponds to “My sin is before me always”; “God appears to me” corresponds to “I place God before me always.”
The gematria of the four words “From afar God appears to me”, 676 = 26 squared (the average value of the four words = 13 squared), i.e. “God”, Havayah, squared – a perfect manifestation of God in reality.