Continuing our brief look at the Psalms today, we have seen the contrast between songs of praise and cries of lament; pleas for help and declarations of faith. This strange mixture is oddly comforting in helping us to feel that the writers are on our wavelength and not removed from the reality that we live. The poets remind us to bring God into every area of our life and take to Him every emotion we are feeling. There’s never a “good” time to pray and a “bad” time. We can feel “at home” with Him and need to share every part of our life, the successes in which we rejoice and the failures that get us down. One writer describes this as a “spiritual reality therapy”. You can see how this works in Psalm 71, if you read it. He starts with urgent pleas for God’s help, moving on to hopeful declarations of faith to new fears for the future. But by the end he is praising God for his faithfulness. Reminding himself of the amazing things God has already done in the past, and the feelings of closeness to God he has experienced, enables him to put to rest some of his present doubts. “Lord I believe; help my unbelief!”
What about when you know you have sin in your life? God won’t hear you, right? When you’ve committed adultery and followed it up with murder to cover up your sin, what’s the point in praying? Or, to put it another way, who would be in greater need of coming to God for forgiveness? King David, a man after God’s own heart, was so greatly in need of God’s healing power after his sordid affair with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11 and 12). He had nothing to offer to God but a broken spirit and a contrite heart, but that very admission led him down the path towards healing. David confessed, in tears and grief, believing in a merciful and forgiving God, and the psalm became a guide for others’ confession and healing. Look at Psalm 51. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love” (v.1). He still believes that God’s love is greater than his sin. “I recognise my wrongdoing…against you alone have I sinned” (v.3) “If you wash me, I shall be whiter than snow” (v.7). And then, “Create in me a pure heart, O God” (v.10). “Restore to me the joy of your salvation” (v.12).
Sin in our life need not, must not, keep us away from God. The priority to which we must always return is that of closeness, intimacy and fellowship with God. Then, and only then, “I will teach transgressors your ways” (v.13). Sinners forgiven are those qualified to speak of the love, forgiveness and acceptance of God. Tomorrow we will look at the psalms of praise, watch this space! Letter no. 100 coming up! That surely deserves a cake! Why not bake yourself one?
Praying today specially for:
Our young friends Jotham and Jethro
Our friends through Here4You
Mikala and family