Sunday, January 25, 2009

Depart From Me, For I am a Sinful Man, O Lord!

The 24th and 25th of the month is always hard on me.

This is the time when the Monthly Psalter in the LLPB's "Brotherhood Prayer Book" reaches Psalm 119.

I find Psalm 119 almost impossible to sing out loud. The author makes statements that challenge me to my foundation. "I love Your law?", "I will keep Your statutes?", and "I will keep Your statutes continually?" If only those words were true!

"I made haste, and delayed not to keep Thy commandments." I am crushed by this. Has there been a day when I have lived up to this statement? Of course not!

About the only verse that I can manage to sing without feeling like a liar is verse 120, "My flesh trembleth in fear of Thee, and I am afraid of Thy judgements."

It is a very difficult song. I am almost greateful that it is spread out over four sessions. How can the conscience take this chapter all at once? As I chant, I must constantly remind myself that I am justified by Christ's perfect righteousness and that these things were fullfilled through Him and given to me by grace alone. Praise be to God that Psalm 119 is not my work to do, but the work of Christ.

I look forward to the Last Day when my flesh will be glorified and perfected by Christ. I look forward to eternity when I can finally pray the bold statements in this psalm honestly.

Any help and wisdom that you can offer regarding Psalm 119 would be greatly appreciated!


Paul McCain said...

I hear you, brother.

Here's what I do. I read the Psalm and consider the words in the mouth of Christ and then how Christ is the one who fulfills all righteousness and gives me a righteousness not my own, "that I may be His own, and live under Him, in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness."

That helps me through the Psalms, when I let them be the words of the Incarnate Christ in conversation with His Father.

William Weedon said...

Bingo, Pr. McCain. They are our Savior's prayer. We are privileged to pray them as part of His body and by His grace alone to grow into them.

Another thought on the Psalms, when it comes to the slaughter of bulls and such, remember that this is the "animal" inside you, the "if it itches scratch it" that you offers as a whole-burnt offering on the altars of God. And when you pray against the enemies, remember that you are praying against Satan and his demons.


Mike Baker said...

What a blessing! Because of the time difference between the States and the combat zone, this advice has come in time for me to apply it for tonight's Vespers (i.e. 119:129-176)

Pr McCain,

Of course! Crux sola est nostra theologia, right?

All Scripture points to Christ and His Work. Thank you for your sage advice. This opens a bright light on the passage that I had not fully considered. I think that I have been caught being too anthropocentric rather than christocentric (which so often is the source of a Christian's dispair.) Perhaps I had my glory-colored glasses on.

Pr Weedon,

I am familiar and agree with your statement about "our enemies" in light of the spiritual war that we fight against the "powers and principalities" that St. Paul speaks about in his epistle. The animal statement is new and quite interesting. I will have to meditate on that.

I really like your addition to Pr. McCain's statement which incorporates us as the "Body of Christ" with Christ speaking the words of the Psalm. I am sure we could work in some sacramental language about our baptismal adoption and participation with Christ in the Supper to support of this idea. :P


Wow, not one but two Lutheran titans to my humble lay-blog in 10 minutes. I need to put out "pastor bait" questions more often! :)