Thursday, June 16, 2011

But as for me, because of the greatness of your mercy I will come to your house - Psalms 5 & 6

This struck me with I began delving into this Psalm, God wants to empathize with us, and he CAN! He wants us to go to him with our struggles, our groans, our cries for help when no solutions or answers are in sight.

And this is especially interesting considering God’s holiness presented here. Holy in the Bible means, “set apart for a special purpose.” God is holy, so he can’t be around evil (5:4). This is why it’s only because of his mercy (5:7), that is, his undeserved favor that we can approach him (a love fully revealed in Jesus). And it’s in view of this mercy that God leads us to in turn lead a holy life (5:8)

It’s such a paradox. “God hates sinners, but he loves sinners.” And I love paradoxes (and things that are the same), and the Bible has a lot of them. This paradox is what Lutheran`s distinguish as “Law and Gospel” and is central to Lutheran theology (the picture in this post is a Cranach painting depicting Law and Gospel. You got to love medieval German art sometimes...).
Yes, God hates sin and we all sin and deserve the punishment for it, BUT Jesus died for our sins (a terse explanation, obviously more to say, but I’ll leave it as this for now. Sorry).  Romans 6:23 is a great juxtaposition of this. You see, BUT statements are what prevail, so the Gospel prevails. For example, look at the difference in these two sentences by switching which one is the “BUT” statement. I had a good day, but I crash my car. I crashed my car, but I had a good day. God hates sinners, BUT he loves you for Jesus’  sake.

And this Psalm reminds me that God condemns, we don’t (we call evil out, but we aren’t the judge. Jesus is the judge). So we pray for God to be just, to vindicate (show to be in the right) his people by letting evil fail and those who persist in it. God hates evil. Let’s not forget this. I think of the flattery of Absalom and Saul’s attempts on his life for no good reason. It’s not wrong to ask God to hold people accountable for their crimes against his people, because unless they change their ways (repent) they are attacking God’s people which is rebellion against God. How often we hear talk like this in Christian prayers, individual or at churches? If not often, why do you think that is? Have we fenced ourselves off from actually confronting evil by (as an example) building communities and structuring our daily lives to avoid it?

And talking of repentance, Psalm 6 is the first of what have been traditionally called “penitential Psalms” (along with 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143). A standard Lutheran definition of be penitent means to be sorry about your sin AND turn to Christ in faith for forgiveness (that second half is key).

Some have said the context of this Psalm fits well with Adonijah’s failed coup d'├ętat (1 Kings 1) when he tried to beat Solomon to the crown. Now, Adonijah’s conspiracy was a result of David’s adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband Uriah (2 Samuel 12:10). So this Psalm’s mention of bodily weakness, awareness of sin, and enemy opposition seems to fit. But whatever the situation (and obviously it’s not mentioned), this Psalm serves as a model prayer for such times in our lives when we’re humbly living our lives by trusting in God, and jerks and just horrible people keep messing it all up. This Psalm tells us, in the end, they will be ashamed and disgraced (whether now or ultimately in Judgement Day). Remember, Adonijah’s plot was thwarted and Solomon did become king.

I should mention something about God’s “discipline” or “correction,” which is highlighted up front. Many debate whether David is asking for Yahweh to not punish him, or if he’s asking Yahweh to not discipline in his anger, but instead in love to train him. I lean towards the latter given verses like Jeremiah 10:24, Revelation 3:14, and sections like Hebrews 12. We need God to correct and deal with the sin in our own lives. Let’s not forget to pray for that as well. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Reformation True

Reformation True
Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura