I confess that prior to prayerfully delving into the seven penitential psalms (6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143) I had to define the word penitential. Dictionary.com defines penitence as a state of regret for one’s wrongdoing or sinning. Equipped with this frame of mind I set forth on my spiritual formation project. My conviction was to complete the project without using a study or life application bible and that is what I am doing. I am amazed at how dependent I have become on peripheral materials when reading the Bible. At any rate, my dependence on commentaries is the first thing I have realized while meditating on these psalms.
Beyond that, I am humbled by the circumstances and timing of this project. For the last few weeks I have been experiencing some terrific trials. Long story short, God delivered me from a lifestyle of fornication and addictions a little over seven years ago. I accepted Christ as my Savior in the summer of 2004 and submitted to His lordship in the fall of that same year. My spirit has tasted the Lord and I know Him to be better than anything the spirit of the anti-Christ has going on. Nonetheless, I find myself frequently crying out to God for help in distress because of temptations. My saving grace thus far has been my knowledge that no creature comforts can satisfy my flesh appetites the way God satisfies my spirit. Plus, I read the Bible. This is the umpteenth time I have read these psalms.
Besides that, I have lived with people trying to regain their spiritual footing after having backslid into rebellious lifestyles. It is not pretty. Grown men spontaneously combusting into tears two or three times a day from the guilt and shame of consciously rejecting God’s ways. All this to say, I cannot afford the wages or consequence of any major rebellion against God. That is what I learned awhile back from these psalms, I cannot afford to rebel against God.
I realized the best way to safe guard myself from any significant ruin is to keep that old man crucified. My best line of defense has been prayer, seeking out accountability, and memorizing Scriptures that emphasize the importance of exercising self-control. To be sure, the timing of this spiritual formation project has found me out on one of my better-guarded lines. Although I have not backslidden into rebellion against God, a constant rhythm of my prayer life of is:
“O Lord, come quickly!Do not turn away from me, or I will die. Cover me in your unfailing love because I need you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. Rescue me from myself Lord. I run to you to keep me. Teach me to do your will, because you are my God. For the glory of your name preserve my life. Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress.”