Pastor Hopkins preached the following sermon on Wednesday in the third week of Lent, 3/18/2020. The Vespers service was broadcast live on Facebook that evening. A recording of the Vespers service, including this sermon, is available on the FLC youtube channel. To follow along from home, the bulletin is available as a PDF: Lent III Vespers
The texts for the sermon were Psalm 6 and the Epistle lesson from the third Sunday in Lent. To read the Bible texts for the third week of Lent, click here.
David knows God’s love and mercy. In Psalm 5 it was this very thing which brought him into the LORD’s presence. But now, in Psalm 6, sick and with a guilty conscience, the very same discipline which God administers to those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:6), feels only like wrath and anger. It is this, of course; but it is not only this, because David belongs to the LORD.
Naturally, David wishes for Him to relent. He wants God to be gracious to him in obvious and easily understandable ways. He wants to be healed. He wants to be restored. David pleads with God to be delivered, body and soul.
But will the LORD do it? How long will He tarry? As he waits, David naturally feels as if God’s eyes are elsewhere, seeing to something or someone else.
If only God would turn again, if only He would look upon the affliction of His servant, then all would be well. David asks God to deliver his life; not because he deserves it, but for the sake of God’s own steadfast, sure, certain, and enduring love.
It is this love and mercy, which David has celebrated and sung about, that he needs again now. But he doesn’t only want to receive mercy. He also wants God to be glorified in it.
David wants God’s healing to be a cause for worship and thanksgiving. So also, we who desire God’s deliverance now should not plead to God for healing for its own sake, but that by delivering us He would be glorified.
But as he waits for the LORD, David is weary. He is anxious and troubled, and tormented and beset. He cries so much that his tears gather in pools. He weeps in such volume that a guest would have to lay down a towel to sit on his couch. His eyes are so flooded with tears they can barely see.
God sees this and God knows this. David doesn’t need to tell Him, but he does. That’s important. Because this isn’t just a Psalm of David.
This is the Word of God for you. You don’t have to be ashamed. You’re anxious. You’re troubled. You’re sick in body and soul.
You’re mourning and grieving and in need. You’re crying into your pillow. And then the devil whispers into your ear: “If you were a Christian, you wouldn’t be bothered. If you were a Christian, you would be so strong and brave and resolved.”
Dear Christians, you are not braver than David; neither are you different in terms of your sin and your suffering. Your tears do not soak your pillow in despair, but in trust. You belong to Jesus, and so even your laments are heard by God and pleasing to Him. No shame.
You are to have no more shame in feeling the pain of these things than if you were to say it hurts when you have a broken arm. Your suffering is no less real because it is invisible. And you are no less a Christian because of it.
Your tears are not shed in vain. God is not deaf to your cries. Jesus has joined Himself to you. By the mystery of His Incarnation, by His Holy Nativity, by His blood and sweat, by His cross and passion, by His anguish in the garden, Jesus prays this Psalm with David and with you.
But Jesus has also joined Himself to You in Holy Baptism. The tears that come from your eyes are not greater than the water and Word by which Jesus has washed them away. You will not weep forever.
But until that great and last day, you, dear Christians, can live in the resurrection that Jesus has won for you now. It is with this confidence that you shun evil, and live as Paul encourages you in our Epistle, to be “imitators of God as beloved children, walking in love.”
You can weep as you pray Psalm 6, and that is fine. But you can also sing it with stringed instruments, according to the Shemnith, a Psalm of David. Because in your tribulation and in your deliverance, God is glorified.