Prayer … 4
For an example of confession of sin we turn to Psalm 51. This is David's prayer of confession. The background is that David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and then attempted top cover it up and have her husband murdered in battle so that it would not look like murder. He did a number of other things in the process and stayed out of fellowship for about a year. God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David with his sins. When David had been confronted by Nathan his confession is given in 2 Samuel 12:13. It was very simple: "I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; you shall not die." That in essence is David's confession, but it is portrayed a little more graphically in several psalms, specifically Psalm 51. David had had time to meditate on what had happened and on his plea for divine mercy, and he recorded this in a penitential hymn to God.
Psalm 51:1, "To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions." The word "blot out" is a very strong word in the Hebrew. It is the word matzach. It is in the qal imperative and it means to blot out or to obliterate from the memory, to completely eradicate or expunge. It is the same word that is used in Genesis 7:22 when God blotted out all of the human race through Noah's flood. It is also used in Exodus 32 where Moses prayed that God would blot him out of His book if God were to go back on His promise to Israel. So what we learn from this is that David is praying that God will erase and expunge all of his transgressions. At the point of confession God expunges the record. He erases all of those sins and they are completely removed. Therefore, if they are removed and are no longer an issue with God then they should no longer be an issue with us. We do not need to feel guilty over that because that is just another sin. Isaiah 43:25, "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins." Once God forgives us the slate is completely wiped clean. Psalm 103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." They are no longer an issue.
Psalm 51:2, " Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin." The Hebrew here is very illustrative. The word for "wash" is kabas, and it is in the piel which is the intensive stem. It is an imperative: this is not a command to God but is an imperative of request from an inferior to a superior. The word originally meant to make something clean through laundering. It is a word that was used of ritual cleansing, e.g. Exodus 19:10, 14. For three days the Israelites had to wash their clothes, to purify themselves ritually before they came into God's presence. It is also the word that is used of cleansing garments that had been contaminated by leprosy, and often in the Old Testament leprosy is a visual image of sin and the contamination of sin and the contagiousness of sin. So this imagery of washing and pounding out all of the impurities in the cloth is a picture of how God cleanses us from sin. The word "cleanse" the Hebrew word tahar which has the idea of to cleanse or to purify, and this Hebrew word was translated by the Jews into the Septuagint by using the word KATHARIZO [kaqarizw]. This is the same word that is found in 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." So the words that are used in 1John 1:9 are words that reach all the way back to Exodus, throughout the Old Testament. They are rich with an imagery and a history behind them, speaking of how God cleanses the believer from sin.
Psalm 51:3, 4 "For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me."Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear [blameless] when thou judgest." The principle here is that when we sin, no matter what human being may be wrong (and David hurt a lot of people with his sin), the sin is against God—'Against thee, thee only'—because it is God's law, God's standards, God's righteousness that is violated, not somebody else's. When we sin, no matter who is wrong, ultimately all sin is against God. He is the supreme court judge of all the universe and He has the right to judge us.
Psalm 51:5, " Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." This does not mean that procreation is a sinful act, it means that in procreation the sin nature is transferred from the father to the children, that we inherit the sin nature which is transmitted genetically.
Psalm 51:5, 6, "Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge [purify] me with hyssop [imagery of cleansing of the leper], and I shall be clean: wash [kabas] me, and I shall be whiter than snow." The imagery of cleansing and washing goes on and on throughout this psalm.
Psalm 51:8, "Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice." When we are out of fellowship in carnality we do not share the joy and happiness of the Lord, we do not have the joy of our salvation. With his confession David is going to be restored to fellowship and will once again share in the joy and gladness of the Lord. In Psalm 32 he speaks about how he was so overcome with guilt and misery that his bones ached because he was in such a state of depression and guilt over his sin. So he is looking for physical restoration from the effects of sin in his own life.
Psalm 51:9, 10, " Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart [removal of guilt], O God; and renew a right [steadfast] spirit within me."
Psalm 51:11 "Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me." Never pray that prayer as a church age believer. The Holy Spirit indwells every New Testament believer. In the Old Testament very few believers had the Holy Spirit. They were endued with the Holy Spirit, it was a temporary giving of the Holy Spirit, not for the function of the spiritual life but for the function of leadership and other functions having to do with the priesthood and temple worship. We have the Holy Spirit given to us on a permanent basis.
Psalm 51:12 "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold [sustain] me with a willing spirit."
That is the first of our four parts of prayer: confession. The second is adoration or praise.
In praise we extol the grandeur and the magnificence of God by focusing on who He is and what He has done. A simple approach to this in our own personal prayer life is to just list the attributes of God. God is sovereign, righteous, just, love, eternal life, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, veracity or truth, and immutable. Then list from each one from our own experience and life how that attribute of God has been demonstrated. Then read that back to God as a prayer of praise. This is often what we find in the praise psalms. We can relate the attributes of God to what He has done in human history, what He has done in our own life, and we can do that in a number of different ways. We can read through the praise psalms and make them our own.
Praise psalms have three elements, sometimes only two. There is a call to praise, a cause to praise where the psalmist gives the reasons for his praise of God—usually related to the greatness of God or God's grace, and he amplifies that through specific illustrations—and a conclusion of exhortation to the congregation to praise the Lord. Examples of praise psalms are Psalms 19, 33, 36, 105, 111, 113, 117, 135.
Note Psalm 19, a cause for praise because of the revelation of God's glory. It begins in the first six verses with praise for the revelation of God's glory and power throughout the creation. In verses 7-11 there is the cause of praise in the revelation of God's glory and power in His Word. There is a conclusion in verses 12-14 which is a request that God's revelation will fulfill its destiny in transforming David's spiritual life into that which is pleasing to God.
Psalm 19:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament [expanse] showeth his handiwork.
2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language [general revelation, the external witness to the power of God], where their voice is not heard.
4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words [utterances] to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
Then the psalmist shifts the cause of praise to the revelation of God's glory and power in special revelation, in God's perfect, infallible and inerrant Word.
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting [restoring] the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
Notice the priority placed upon the value of Scripture. It is more desirable than gold. That is, when Bible doctrine becomes the highest priority in our lives, when we rearrange the priorities in our lives, rearrange our schedules so that we can be in Bible class and learn God's Word. We cannot grow spiritually if we are not applying God's Word. We cannot apply God's Word if we do not know God's Word. We cannot know God's Word if we do not take the time and the energy and the discipline and the concentration necessary to study it, to learn it and make it apart of our lives.
The remainder of the psalm is a call to others to share in this praise.
12 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.
13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart [mind], be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
We are to gives thanks to the Lord in all things and for all things, no matter what the situation might be, no matter how much it has broken our heart, no matter how much suffering it entails. In all things we are to give thanks.
1) A person cannot be happy unless he is thankful for everything he has. If we are unthankful then we are ungrateful. If we are ungrateful then we are being motivated by bitterness and self-centeredness and arrogance. To the degree that we are being motivated by these things we cannot be happy because we are focusing on what we don't have instead of what we have. If we are not grateful to God we will be miserable. Ingratitude always accompanies the rejection of doctrine. It always accompanies a spiritual problem.
2) Since circumstance, people and emotions always change, so will our happiness if it is based on circumstance, people and emotion. When we chain ourselves to circumstances we will enslave our emotions to things beyond our control.
3) The result of this is an emotional roller coaster that destroys our spiritual life. We will end up bitter, frustrated, angry, depressed, and we will be a great source of misery to all of those around us.
4) The solution is to realize that everything we have is from God. Our home, our spouse, our family, our parents, the food in our house, the air we breathe, the car we drive, the church we have, are all from God and we should be thankful for them because ultimately God controls all things. The minute something goes wrong and we often begin to question God, but when everything is all right and going smoothly we forget that God is the source of everything we have. Appreciation to God for everything in our life is the key to the real joy of our salvation.
5) You cannot be humble and ungrateful at the same time. Humility and ingratitude are mutually exclusive. Gratitude always accompanies humility and true happiness.
6) Gratitude is the ministry of God the Holy Spirit in making the benefits of our unique spiritual life of the church age pleasing to the mind.
7) Gratitude is appreciation of all that God's grace has done for us. So we cannot be grateful without grace orientation. We must understand grace.
8) Therefore our degree of gratitude toward God is directly related to how much doctrine we have in our souls. The Scriptures mandate us in terms of giving thanks. 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Pray without ceasing," is directly followed in verse 18 by saying, "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Ephesians 5:20, "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." That particular verse is just two verses after v. 18 which commands the filling of the Holy Spirit. There is a cause and effect relationship expressed in those verses. The believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit gives thanks for all things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Colossians 2:7, "Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving." Colossians 1:12, "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." Colossians 4:2, "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving." 2 Corinthians 2:14, "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place." Thanksgiving glorifies God which is the ultimate purpose of prayer.
Psalm 32 is one example of a thanksgiving psalm (Others are Psalms 30, 34, 40, 92, 105, 107, 118) and another expression of David's thanksgiving, after Psalm 51 when he confessed his sin to God, in which he expresses his praise and gratitude to God for delivering him from his sins. He begins by praising God: "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile." Then we get a dewscription of what it feels like to be out of fellowship. "When I kept silence [about my sin], my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture [vitality] is turned [drained away] into the drought of summer. Selah." He is wasting away in guilt and depression.
His response: Psalm 32:5, "I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah." Some 32 is an expression of David's thanksgiving for forgiveness for his sin.
Supplication deals with two things: intercession (prayer for others) and petition (prayer for one's self.