Question 4. What seems to happen in verse 6? Has this ever happened to you? Should we expect this every time? Why or why not?
David was praying for salvation; he was praying for membership in God’s people. He certainly was leading the congregation to ask for this salvation because it’s a psalm (a point I’ve belabored.) David praises God because God answers the prayer (“has heard.”) The remainder of the psalm lists the benefits of God’s favor only His people enjoy.
One pastor I knew once taught about the “unpardonable sin” (blaspheming and lying about the Holy Spirit) that Jesus warned the Pharisees against. He (the pastor) criticized the tendency to generalize all sins as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (the generalization states: if you claim to be a Christian, you will have power to fight off your sins, so any sin you commit makes Him a liar; you are blaspheming the Holy Spirit, which is unpardonable … see here for a good refutation.) Obviously, this is junk theology: perfectionism. But our pastor dismissed it quite elegantly: “If you ever worry about this sin, you don’t have to worry about this sin.” His meaning was that only someone with the power of the Holy Spirit could ever be sensitive to the words of Jesus on this point. I was grateful for this assurance, because early in my Christian walk, I was briefly susceptible to this worry. I outgrew it because I recognized the perfectionism, but it would have been fun to listen to this error get crushed by that line when I was in its grip.
Another story: I visited a friend’s church in Santa Clarita, California where they used a high church liturgy. This liturgy included a corporate confession and forgiveness of sins. The pastor ended the forgiveness of sins part by saying, “1st John 1:9 tells us that ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ So based on this objective testimony, you are forgiven. It doesn’t matter if you ‘feel forgiven.’ Even if you’re depressed right now, you’re still forgiven!” This was another pithy and unexpected assurance.
I reminisce about these points of assurance because they came so subtly, unexpectedly and powerfully. I know the Holy Spirit was making me pay attention to these (and other) events and filling my heart up with them. I know God has forgiven me my sins; I don’t deserve it, but I’m overjoyed to have it. This is how David felt when he wrote verse 6.
Perhaps Rev. Keller was asking about whether we should expect our petitions for everyday things to always be answered in the affirmative: “God, please give me a good day at work;” “God, please help me fix this thing;” “God, please don’t let the 49ers lose to the Seahawks;” etc. He doesn’t always say “yes” to these petitions. I think that if He answers No to these kinds of petitions, we have to try to see how the “no’s” line up with His plan for us. That may only happen in retrospect.
I do know that He always forgives.
Using Praying the Psalms Group Study Product
All Bible quotes ESV