Be Glad (Psalm)

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Service Notes

  • Liturgical Date: Fourth Sunday in Lent (Year C) - March 10, 2013
  • Order of Service: Prayer & Preaching
  • Hymns: LSB #915, 562, 422, 435

Theme Verse

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (v11)

Sermon Text

David enjoins us with God's command: "Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice" (v11). But how can we follow His command to be glad when we find ourselves to be such miserable sinners? How can God command such an impossible thing of us? We cannot be glad and rejoice in our sins. They weigh us down too much. We see only setbacks and failures. Can anyone truly be glad? There is only one way. "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered" (v1). Gladness and joy only come from the forgiveness of sins. We can only be glad when we cling to the promise that God has covered our sins. That He has forgiven our trespasses. That He no longer counts our iniquity against us. He has lifted the burden of sin that weighs us down. He strengthens us through His Word. His promises of salvation GIVES us gladness and joy. We rejoice because we have been forgiven. Any other joy and gladness we might portray is hollow and lifeless. God wants us to have life-giving joy. Life-giving joy from Confession and Absolution. Joy comes after we acknowledge our sin (v5). Joy must first be sought in confessing our sins. We can't have joy if we don't acknowledge that we're sinners. That in ourselves we cannot have joy. We cannot make ourselves glad. Confession and Absolution changes that. Contrition is not "gloom, despair and agony on me." Contrition is admitting, "I've done these things that are against God's will. I'm sorry I've done them. I don't want to do them any more. Take them away from me. Put them as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). Forgive me and help me to live better." Godly contrition is the point of Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). Contrition is the Prodigal's speech that he never gets to give to his father (Luke 15:18-19): "Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants." Contrition is coming back, begging for mercy because you don't deserve it. The Prodigal's father didn't wait for his son to make his speech. Didn't wait for his son to beg for his forgiveness. It had already been given. "While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him" (Luke 15:20). Forgiveness was already the Prodigal's long before he made it back home. So the son was allowed to enter his father's house with gladness and great joy. Those of us who feel the Holy Spirit working godly contrition in our hearts understand this. We find ourselves very often on our knees, praying to God for forgiveness. We run to find God to help us in our time of trouble. "Let everyone who is godly offer prayer to You at a time when You may be found" (v6). We seek refuge in God through our prayers. The Prodigal leaves the pig pen and journeys back to his father. He wants the refuge that he knows is available from his father's hand even as the lowest of the household servants (Luke 15:17). God surrounds us with deliverance as he preserves us from all trouble (v7). The Epistle to the Hebrews shows this by saying, "Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses ... let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (12:1). This is why we're encouraged to come together often. To be gathered together within the cloud of witnesses. To be part of each other's cloud of witnesses. "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the LORD'" (Psalm 122:1). Only from the LORD can we find steadfast love. Only from the LORD can we find joy and gladness. In God's steadfast love, He teaches us. He teaches us the way of love. The way we should go (v8). "Not like a horse or mule" (v9). He doesn't drag you around with a bit and bridle. He moves you by speaking His Word. Surrounding you with His Word in everything you do in worship and in study. Words of steadfast love. Sweet Gospel spoken to show you His life. The life He gave for you. The life He won for you. Today His mercy calls us (LSB #915). Imprints His image on our hearts (LSB #422). Makes us "ambassadors of Christ" through faith (2 Corinthians 5:20). Surrounded by His steadfast love, we may be glad and rejoice. We may shout for joy. "Here a pure and healing fountain flows for you, for me, for all, in a full perpetual tide, opened when our Savior died" (LSB #435.1). God's mercy calls us today. "Come in sorrow and contrition, wounded, impotent, and blind; here the guilty, free remission, here the troubled, peace may find" (LSB #435.3). Here is where it is proper to "be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous." Here God surrounds you with His steadfast love. Love that "through Christ reconciled us to Himself" (2 Corinthians 5:18). Love that "receives sinners and eats with them" (Luke 15:2). Love that has forgiven you of your sins. Amen.

PSALM PRAYER

O God, our heavenly Father, with whom is grace and much forgiveness, be merciful to us who were born in sin and cannot but sin and fall short every day. Forgive us our many transgressions and account them against us no more, but make us Your heirs through Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, who was delivered into death for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Amen.