|March 6, 2019
By Leigh Boelkins Van Kempen
1 O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger,
or discipline me in your wrath.
2 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror.
3 My soul also is struck with terror,
while you, O Lord—how long?
4 Turn, O Lord, save my life;
deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love.
Read the full psalm.
I have a confession to make: I have a hard time saying, “I’m sorry.” Or, perhaps, more accurately, I say, “I’m sorry, but … ” My acknowledgement of how I have hurt someone or disappointed someone is often followed by my excuse for why it happened. However, I don’t think I’m unique in this. Perhaps you, too, have a hard time saying, “I’m sorry.”
Psalm 6 is the first of seven penitential psalms (6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143) frequently used as part of the Christian church’s Lenten observance, starting with Ash Wednesday. The theme of these seven psalms is consistent: the psalmist expresses deep sorrow for his sin, asking God for help and forgiveness. In today’s psalm, David itemizes his distress. Both his body and his soul feel overwhelmed with terror. David realizes he is experiencing the consequence of his own sin. He cries out in physical and spiritual pain, knowing that God’s discipline is justified for the ways he has disobeyed God.
David’s confession before God is anchored in his confidence that God will forgive. He calls out for God’s deliverance, convinced that God will hear and answer because of God’s steadfast love. In spite of the situation in which David finds himself, he knows that he will not permanently abide in terror and distress because of God’s unfailing love. “Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord accepts my prayer” (vv. 8-9).
As we enter this Lenten season, we can say, “I’m sorry” before God. When we confess before our merciful Lord, we are assured of God’s forgiveness. Instead of saying, “I’m sorry, but,” we can say, “I’m sorry because of your steadfast love and forgiveness!” What a wonderful God we serve!