There is a section of Psalms known as the Psalms of Ascents. It’s Psalm 120–134. When Israel was in exile, held captive in Babylon, these were psalms that the people sang in their hopes of returning to Jerusalem. So the context is waiting: How do we wait for God’s promises in a place that is not our ultimate home? The question behind these psalms is: How do we sojourn? How do we wait here when we know we are going there?
And the first psalm, Psalm 120, opens:
In my distress I called on the Lord, and he answered me.
Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.
What more shall be given you? What more shall be done to you, you deceitful tongue?
A warrior’s sharp arrows with glowing coal of a broom tree!
Woe to me that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace.
I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war!
otice what the psalmist is asking in this prayer: Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.
He is stuck in waiting, and he prays.
And he doesn’t pray first for deliverance from a dysfunctional government.
He doesn’t pray first that he and his friends not be harmed, either by diminishing religious liberties or by deadly terrorist attacks.
These are good things to pray against, but he doesn’t pray them first. The first thing he prays is: God, keep me from believing the lies. Stop the lies.
And I think this means, and many of you have felt this, that the greatest threat to us during our waiting is not what people can do to us, but it’s what our own hearts are tempted to believe. The greatest threat is the lies, because they are everywhere around us. Lies about who is in control, lies about who is our hope, lies about who we are. And I think we should pray, humbly, God, keep us from believing the lies.
In fact, what my job is as a pastor, what we do as pastors, is to remind you of truth — who is God? What has he done and what does he say? And that is a big part of our corporate worship, of mornings like this. We step away from the noise, from the commotion, and we come here together, and we want to hear from God. We want the gospel truth. We need eyes to see and ears to hear, and that’s one of the reasons we confess our sins. Pray with me.
Prayer of Confession
Father, we confess that sin is the great anti-truth. It smudges reality and spreads lies about who you are, and sin is not out there, in certain places and people, but sin is in here, in our own hearts. And we confess that. In our thoughts and our attitudes, in our actions and reactions, we are sinners, and though, by your grace, we are for peace, there is war all around us. There is war outside and war within, and we stop now to repent and plead your deliverance.
Father, have mercy on us and open our eyes to your truth. May the tonic of the gospel restore our sight, as your people have prayed so much before us. May the truth of Jesus illuminate in us all that is dark, and establish in us all that is wavering, and accomplish in us all that is your will, and glorify through us your holy name. Lead us, now, Father, by your Spirit, as we confess our sins privately. In Jesus’s name, amen.