Psalm 19: Blamelessness

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Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
    which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them,
    and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can discern his errors?
    Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
    let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
    and innocent of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Still Standing – A Study of a Roadside Tree #3 | Outside Elgin, TX | January 2023

M. Scott Peck’s book, People of the Lie is an insightful look at the nature and essence of evil. He approaches the subject as a psychiatrist, admitting that the subject is highly controversial among his peers. The book’s blurb states that

People who are evil attack others instead of facing their own failures. Peck demonstrates the havoc these people of the lie work in the lives of those around them. He presents, from vivid incidents encountered in his psychiatric practice, examples of evil in everyday life.

A key quote from the book: “It is not their sins per se that characterize evil people, rather it is the subtlety and persistence and consistency of their sins. This is because the central defect of the evil is not the sin but the refusal to acknowledge it.” (page 69) [Thanks to Laura Martin who posted this in her blog]

Yes. Our greatest problem is not just the sin, but a refusal to acknowledge our sin. This echos the truth of 1 John 1:8, “If we say we are without sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” That’s why this psalm is so important as part of our prayer life. We must confess our sins and say with David, “Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!”

When Jesus died on the cross, he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” Who can discern his errors? We have no idea of the far-reaching impact of our sins of commission or omission. Mitch Albom’s Five People you Meet in Heaven, explores the far-reaching impact we have with one another in our seemingly-ordinary daily encounters. The examples are mostly positive. But I wonder if there would be a similar book written about the negative impacts we have had on people in seemingly minor acts of unkindness or thoughtlessness. We won’t even consider the far-reaching impact of our more ignoble failures and sins!

So what are we to do as we contemplate our sins, confessing them and seeking God’s forgiveness? Certainly we must take seriously the urgent confession in the words, “Declare me innocent from hidden faults.” We can sincerely pray, “Keep me blameless and innocent of great transgression.” And we can rejoice in Jesus’ forgiveness. For we are also promised, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Our blamelessness is by the grace of God through faith in the blood of Jesus. That is unassailable. And it requires that we acknowledge our need for it. 

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