April 1, 2022

Confession and Declaration

Psalm 51 is the most penitential of all the psalms. It may be 3000 years old, but it's still an effective prayer of confession in the 21st century of our Lord. From start to finish, it is an expression of remorse for actions that have broken God's heart. For 19 verses, it's always on point. Except near the end, in the 15th verse, we suddenly pray: O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise—a positive expression of exaltation in the midst of all that sorrow. It's as if David (for of all the psalms attributed to him, this is arguably the most David-like) had started out in utter dejection, but the more he admitted his wrongdoing, the more strongly he felt that God was not only listening, but willing to forgive. 

Though the psalm seems to return to its former theme in the closing verses, it's almost as if evil's spell has been broken. We are no longer convinced that our sin will have the last word and that our God is cruel and unforgiving. Forgiveness is real, and we simply can't keep the good news shut up in our bones.
If this was true of God in the time of David, how much truer is it for those of us who have heard the good news of Jesus Christ, how he not only forgave sin, but taught us to forgive as well? 
We declare to you what we have seen and heard.
 1 John 1:3
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Almighty God, because Jesus your servant became obedient to death, his sacrifice was greater than all the sacrifices of old. Accept our offering of praise, and help us to do your will, until our whole life becomes worship in spirit and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord
 Liturgy of the Hours (Roman Catholic)
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After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.

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Text selection ©2021 Evangelische Brüder-Unität. All scripture quotations from the New Revised Standard Version, unless otherwise noted.