Each week we’ll be providing prompts for praying the psalm preached the previous Sunday. Start with Pastor Josh’s blog post covering Three Ways to Pray the Psalms.
We just finished our series on Psalms for Uncertain Times by looking at Psalm 106. My goal for this series was to help you learn a new vocabulary and grammar of prayer that may feel a bit like a foreign language. Praying the Psalms gives us patterns and prompts for prayer. One of the methods we’ve been using in these posts has been the ACTS method, letting a psalm lead us through adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. Some psalms are especially suited to helping us most in just one of these categories. Psalm 106 is unique in the pattern it gives us for confession.
Why is it important to confess our sins to God? At a minimum, it helps us glory in our great God. Confession teaches us something about God’s glory. We were created to reflect God’s glory, to image something of who he is in the world. Our sin reminds us of how we fall short of God’s glory. And so, when we confess our sins, we are indirectly confessing God’s glorious perfections.
Confession also teaches something about God’s grace. Because we we’re created by God, we’re accountable to God. And because we sin, we deserve his judgment. To some, it may not seem that remarkable that God forgives. Isn’t that God’s job? We sin, God forgives. This view minimizes the grace of God. We don’t deserve forgiveness; God doesn’t owe us anything but judgment. Forgiveness is sheer grace. Yes, God forgives his people, but this forgiveness comes at a high price—the price of the Son of God’s death on the cross. When we confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness, we are highlighting the glorious grace of God!
Psalm 106 invites the reader into Israel’s story, and shows us how their story is actually our story. After my sermon, a friend emailed me and said that examining ourselves through looking at the sins of Israel reminded him of doing employee performance reviews. Whenever he would review someone, he was struck by how some weaknesses were easier to detect than others, namely the weaknesses he shared with the person he was reviewing! When we review the sins of Israel prayerfully, we will see our sins more clearly (cf. Ps. 106:6). And that can lead us to confess our own sins.
This week, I invite you to confess your sins by looking at the sins of Israel in Psalm 106. In it we find three categories of sin: unbelief in God’s power, discontent with God’s provision, and idolatry. Read through the psalm and allow the Spirit to use the story of Israel’s sin to expose your own.
Psalm 106:7-12, 24-27
Where do you forget about God’s track record of protecting and providing for his people? How does that lead you into unbelief and unfaithfulness?
What are the ways you’ve grown discontent with what God has provided? Are there things you demand now that we aren’t promised until Christ returns?
Psalm 106:19-23, 28-29, 34-39
In what ways have you made and served idols? Where are you giving your allegiance or affections to something or someone that belong only to God? Name those sins and confess them.
This psalm gives us a helpful framework for confession, but it doesn’t stop there! It recounts again and again the salvation of God. Spend time reflecting on God’s grace as well. God’s grace is greater than all our sins. In every area you’ve failed, Jesus was faithful. If you are in Christ, God now looks on Christ’s perfect righteousness, not your unrighteousness. And he also looks on the perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the cross that paid in full the price of your sins. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom. 8:1).
When we confess our sins, it helps us to focus on God’s glory and grace. But it should also lead us to greater intimacy and fellowship with God.
Rejoice for all God has done to forgive us of our sins (106:5), give thanks to him (106:47), and praise the LORD (106:1, 48).
Confession is a difficult, painful process, but it is worth it, because it also involves great delight in our God.