Summary: The Book of Psalms is a devotional prayer book -- but how to use it? This week we look at how to use the prayers of confession found in the psalter.
Psalms of Confessions
Delivered on January 15, 2006
The Rev. Dr. W. Maynard Pittendreigh
Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children--with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the LORD, O my soul.
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. (NIV)
When I was a kid, a neighbor caught me and a friend taking a short cut through her beloved rose garden. She came running out of her house and told us she was sick and tired of kids tracking through her rose garden.
She demanded to know our names and the names of our parents so she could call them.
So I looked her in the eye and said, “My name is Robert Halley. My father is the Reverend John Halley. We live at 208 Sunset Drive.” Robert was my next door neighbor.
Then the lady looked at my friend and said, “And what is your name?”
And he said, “My name is Maynard Pittendreigh.”
What is it about us that makes it so difficult to face up to the mistakes we make.
We hate to admit wrong doing. We hate to admit mistakes.
In the New Testament lesson, we read that if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
I think that might be the one single verse of Scripture that describes our modern American culture better than any other.
We don’t like to admit that we have done anything wrong.
Several months ago I was watching a press conference on television, and a political leader was asked the simple question, “Looking over the past few months, what mistakes would you say you have made.”
The politician seemed to think about it, as if searching for some mistake he’d made, and finally he said, “I can’t think of anything I’ve done that was a mistake.”
Of course, the late night comedians found several answers for him in their monologues and jokes.
It is easy to see the short comings of others.
It is hard to see it in ourselves.
Why is it that so many people have trouble admitting when they’re wrong?