How Long, O Lord?

Summer of Psalms  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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Psalm 6 How Long, O Lord? Introduction: Psalm 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143 have been referred to as the penitential Psalms by the Church since the sixth century. Penitential meaning penance or repentance, these are the Psalms of Repentance. It is believed that each of these Psalms of repentance was penned by David in light of his great sin of adultery with Bathsheba, and the murder of her husband Uriah. Something that is clearly seen through the life of David is though God does abundantly forgive sin, blotting out our iniquities, and giving us clean new hearts by the power of his Holy Spirit; God does not always deliver us from the consequences or physical repercussions of sin. David's sin in many ways affected him for the rest of his life - yes he was forgiven, yes he was free from condemnation and guilt.. But he was a crippled man, a broken man from it. But David did something whenever he was tempted to fall back into condemnation and guilt over the past. When he was tempted to think that God was repaying him for his sins - he pleaded to God, not because of his righteousness, or faithfulness, but because of God's mercy and steadfast love alone. Again, as we've been saying for the past weeks the Psalms are meant to teach us how to respond to God in prayer. This Psalm and the other penitential Psalms teach us how to respond to and talk to God about our sin. 1. How long, O Lord? 1. "O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath 2 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled. 3 My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O Lord-how long?" 2. Some of you feel that God is angry with you. Maybe you've always felt that way. Maybe this is what you were taught growing up - The God of the Bible is an angry God, and vengeful God, a God of wrath.. Even to this day, you feel this to some degree. Every time you mess up, every time you neglect to pray, you miss a church service, you choose selfishness over service to others, every time you feel that God is angry with you... 3. David feels the just anger of God in this Psalm - and apparently he has done something to deserve these feelings, he prays - don't rebuke me in your anger, don't discipline me in your wrath.. This isn't the prayer of someone who sinned unknowingly, this is a prayer in the face of deliberate sin. David is feeling the effects of his sin, physically - heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled; And spiritually - My soul also is greatly troubled. 4. David asks, But you, O LORD, how long? 1. What is David asking for? God's presence but not his wrath...?? The God that David fears is also the God that David wants - the only one who can rescue him. This is a conundrum that we encounter again and again in the scripture and especially in the Psalms... The God who's wrath we fear, is simultaneously our only hope of deliverance. 2. Contemplation #1 1. Thought - I imagine these words, "How Long, O LORD," mean something different for each of us. For some maybe it's prayer for a certain ailment we've dealt with for too long. For others maybe it has to do with family issues, a wayward child, an unloving spouse. For others maybe you think of financial difficulty. For others its your personal sin and temptation that come rushing to mind. Let us bring our lament before the Lord.. 2. Confession - Lord how long? I don't understand why you haven't answered my prayer for deliverance. I'm tempted to doubt that you love me or that you care about my struggle and my personal well being. Confess your doubt and frustration to the Lord in the midst of your waiting.. 3. Scripture - "Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities." -Psalm 130 4. Thought - As we pray or sing such psalms, they remind us that God, in fact, has not forgotten us, that what we feel isn't always real, and that God's promises are truer than our perceptions.. 5. Prayer -(Pray Aloud Together) Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, maker of all things, judge of all men: We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we from time to time most grievously have committed, by thought, word, and deed, against thy divine Majesty, provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous unto us, the burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; for thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ's sake, forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please thee in newness of life, to the honor and glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 3. The Lord has heard my plea 1. "Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love. 5 For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise? 6 I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. 7 My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes. 8 Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping. 9 The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer.10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled; they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment." 2. David knows that God is 100% justified in his anger and wrath against David's sin. If God deals with David according to his sin, and according to God's righteous standard David is toast. He says, - For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise? 3. Because of this David appeals to the steadfast love of the LORD. Again David uses the Hebrew word "Chesedh", God's covenantal love for his people. The steadfast love of a covenant God who cares for his people not because they are perfect but because he is. As we often call it God's never stopping, never-giving up, un-breaking, always and forever love. 4. David knows his God so well (David uses the personal name of God 7 times in this 8 vs Psalm - In our Bible's it simply says, LORD in all caps, instead of the consonants YHWH. David calls God by his covenant name, not appealing to his power and justice as Lord (sovereign ruler), but his personal relational title YHWH....) He knows that His God loves mercy and love, and these are what drive his justice.. (We can recall God's compassionate anger from Psalm 103) 5. What is David really asking for? 1. Jeremiah prays a very similar prayer to God - "Correct me, O LORD, but in justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing." 2. How can God deal with our sin without destroying us? This is the prayer of both David and Jeremiah - "God destroy my sin, but don't destroy me!" "Lord cast away my sin, but don't cast me away". 3. The answer is Jesus. 1. I remember hearing a study by Tim Keller many years ago on how Jesus is the true and better version of every major character and theme in the Bible. The one that has stuck most with me is this one: "Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled with God and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us." 2. It is only because Jesus took the ultimate blow of God's justice that God can deal with our sins without destroying us. It is only because Jesus was forsaken by God on the cross that we can have the assurance that though we still sin, God will never leave us or forsake us...Jesus is the answer to the tension of God's justice and love. Jesus is the answer to our fear of God's wrath and our desperate need of his presence. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians "in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 3. This means then If you are in Christ Jesus, if you have placed your hope in him, if you find your identity with and in Christ - you are not bearing the punishment for your sins, not ever. You're sins and their just punishment were completely served on Calvary's tree. Whatever is happening in your life that might cause you to call out, "How Long, O Lord?" is meant to teach you to trust in, to wait on, to draw near to your Father who loves. 1. As the Hymn says - "The flame shall not hurt you, I've only designed your dross to consume and your gold to refine." 4. Though David scarcely had the heart to pray, his tears are not in vain. He gets an "answering touch" (Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping. The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer.) - an assurance that God is listening even though he hasn't done anything about the circumstances yet. 5. Like David, each one of us has the promise from the LORD himself - "I will never leave you or forsake you." 1. God is always close - even in difficulties, in problems, in the darkness of life. He listens, and saves in his own way. 4. Contemplation #2 1. Thought - Do you doubt God's presence in your life, or his care for your life? Do you feel yourself not worthy because of your sin, because of your present failings and temptations? "Quit keeping score altogether and surrender yourself with all your sinfulness to God who sees neither the score nor the score keeper but only his child redeemed by Christ." 2. Confession - Let's confess our unworthiness to the Lord, and our petty attempts to continually justify our selves before him. Let us only plead his mercy and his grace. - "Cast your deadly "doing" down -Down at Jesus' feet; Stand in Him, in Him alone, Gloriously complete." - Let us confess now to the Lord. 3. Scripture - (Read Aloud Together) "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." 4. Thought - "In solitary silence we listen with great attentiveness to the voice that calls us the beloved. God speaks to the deepest reaches of our souls, into our self-hatred and shame, our narcissism, and takes us through the night into the daylight of His truth: "Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name, you are mine..You are precious in my eyes, because you are honored and I love you.. The Mountains may depart, the hills be shaken, but my love for you will never leave you and my covenant of peace with you will never be shaken" (Isaiah 43:1,4;54:10) 5. Prayer - (Pray Aloud Together) Oh Jesus, the Lamb of God for sinners slain. How precious is your name. The mere mention of it brings music to this sinners ears. It brings life and health and peace. Lord you promise that you will never leave me or forsake me. But still I fear. Help my unbelief. I know that your love is unfailing even if I don't feel it. But I ask that in your grace you touch me and give me a sense of your presence at my side. So we pray, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Closing prayer: Father, now may our sincere worship be directed toward you, not only in words, but in deed and in truth. For Jesus' sake. Amen
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