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Perspectives
Psalm 51, Introduction to Confession and Restoration: Our Need to Be Confronted


Tissot_Nathan_Rebukes_David
"Nathan Rebukes David" by James Tissot

In this series, we have introduced Scriptural principles that should help us invigorate our prayers, these being: (1) when we don’t know what to pray, Jesus, in John 17 in his great discourse after the Last Supper, prayed for us just  prior to dying on the cross for our sins, which means we can state in our prayer that at this moment when we are without words, we are trusting in his words because he is the Word; (2) when we pray, our prayers should be a love dialogue between ourselves and the Triune God; (3) when we pray, our petitions should not be our primary focus but a secondary focus; (4) when we begin our prayers, we should always honor God with words of adoration, thanksgiving and praise which express God’s greatness, sovereignty, mercy and generosity; (5) when we find ourselves in great emotional distress, we should postpone our adoration until we have finished pouring our souls out to God.

We will now begin a discussion of another important Biblical principle of prayer which will be developed in subsequent articles, and that is confession and restoration. Confession is often the first step that leads to opening the doors to the “rooms” of reconciliation and restoration. This article will give the background to Psalm 51and will discuss how God must confront us with our sins because we sometimes attempt to cover up our sins.

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An Evening Prayer, Part 2 - Psalm 4


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In the last article in this series, “An Evening Prayer, Part I,” we stated, “The psalms teach us that the purpose of prayer is to cultivate a love dialogue between God and ourselves.” We also stated that “A key component in this dialogue is being brutally honest with God about our emotional state at any given time.” Sometimes this love dialogue takes the form of pouring our hearts out to God and working through our emotional distress. In Psalm 4, David, its author, is being brutally honest with God about the fact that his enemies are falsely accusing him and this is creating a state of emotional misery within him.

Have you been attacked and accused falsely and unfairly by someone at work, or in your family, or on the job, or even in your church?  David teaches us how to transcend our agitation when we are attacked. We can extract from this psalm how we are to pray and react to unwarranted attacks.

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An Evening Prayer, Part 1 - Psalm 4


Psalm_3

In the last article in this series, we examined Psalm 3, a morning prayer. Now we will examine its companion, Psalm 4, which is called an evening prayer. The superscription to Psalm 4 states, “To the choir master with stringed instruments. A psalm of David.” This superscription indicates that this psalm was a part of the liturgy of Hebrew worship in the days of King David and later during Solomon’s reign when the Temple was complete. It was thus used in public worship.

As with Psalm 3, this psalm could also be associated with the rebellion of David’s son, Absalom (refer to our last article for an explanation as to the occasion for the writing of Psalm 3).

The psalms teach us that the purpose of prayer is to cultivate a love dialogue between God and ourselves. A key component in this dialogue is being brutally honest with God about our emotional state at any given time. When circumstances are going well, then our dialogue should be one of expressed joy. When circumstances are not going well, then our dialogue should be one of expressed anguish. Both should result in a remembrance of God’s grace and faithfulness through times of bright light as well as times of dark blight.

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A Weighty Matter


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“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 NLT

Jesus did not mince words when He told each of His disciples to take up—to shoulder—their own individual cross. He had the scope of the Big Picture of His purpose for coming into the world—the Kingdom of God.  A sacrifice—a commitment—was needed. The disciples without a doubt understood physically what He meant: crucifixion was a common visible occurrence, a preferred Roman punishment to deter rebellion.

Commitment to shoulder the cross in order to follow Him and His Kingdom would mean risking one’s life and not turning back. Yet Christ didn’t come to remove the Roman government to free the Jewish people from its rule, as was commonly thought to be the purpose of the Messiah. Rather, He prepared His disciples for the cross: “The Son of God will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes and they will condemn Him to death. Then  …[on] to the Gentiles [the Romans] to be mocked, flogged, and crucified, and He will be resurrected on the third day” (Mt 20:18-19).

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A Prayer for Times of Distress: Psalm 3, Part 2


Psalm_3

Long after Psalm 3 was composed, it became known in the Hebrew worship community as “a morning prayer,” whereas its companion psalm, Psalm 4, became known as “an evening prayer.”

As mentioned in our last article, the Psalms reveal people, especially David, who are brutally honest with God in expressing their anger, loneliness or depression at any given moment (Psalm 88, A Psalm of the Sons of Korah, speaks with the voice of one in the throes of despair). God knows every molecule, ligament and fiber of our being; we cannot keep anything hidden from Him. The Psalms teach us that we do not even have to try to do so. David understood this.

 

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A Prayer for Times of Distress: Introduction to Psalm 3


Psalm_3Although only five of the one hundred-fifty Psalms are actually designated as prayers in their headings (Pss. 17, 86, 90, 102, 142), others are nonetheless easily used as is, as prayers. These include Psalms 3, 7, 10, 13, 16, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 35, 38, 43, 63, and 71.

As we read through the prayers in the Psalms (as well as the Psalms themselves), we discover people, especially David, who are brutally honest before God about how they feel and what they are experiencing. This goes contrary to the notion that the Christian should always feel upbeat and positive about every situation he or she might encounter. The psalmists are not adverse in the least about pouring their true feelings out before the Lord; they frequently express such negative emotions as: a sense of being abandoned by God (Psalm 88), of feeling disappointed (Pss. 16, 92, 102, 130), of feeling insignificant, or small and overlooked (Pss. 8, 23, 86, 119, 139), of feeling discouraged (Pss. 12, 42, 55, 86, 107, 142), and of feeling grief (6, 31, 71, 77, 94, 123). The psalmists understood something we seem to have overlooked under some misguided, so-called Christian teaching, and that is that the God does not expect us to be totally upbeat at all times, to be totally anxiety and worry free, and to be positive in all occasions. God is all-knowing  and knows us totally, blemishes, scars, as well as apple-bright complexions: He knows our state of physical health, whether we are well or ill; He knows whether we are strong or weak; He knows whether we are rested or weary; He knows our inner being, whether we are lonely, unhappy, abused, abraded,  or abandoned; He knows if we are angry and want revenge, or if we are depressed. We cannot hide from Him. Not only can we not hide from Him, the Psalms teach us just the opposite of hiding; they teach us that God wants us to be open totally with Him, to hide nothing. He will not be hurt or shocked by what we might say as we honestly open up our hearts before Him.

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