Sermon Approach for “The 7 Penitential Psalms” – Mid-Week Lent, 2017
Martin Luther began his teaching career at the University of Wittenberg by lecturing on the Psalms. (1513-1516) Interestingly, later in Luther’s teaching career, he once again focused on the Psalms. For Luther, the Psalms expressed the very heart and soul of the believer’s life in Christ.
Luther’s very first publication was his commentary called, “The Seven Penitential Psalms,” published in 1517. He would later revise and republish this work in 1525. “Among my first booklets I also published at that time the seven penitential psalms with an exposition. And although I still do not find anything wrong in it, yet I often missed the meaning of the text. This usually happens to all teachers at their first attempt…. Now however, since the gospel has reached high noon and is shining brightly, and I also have made some progress in the meantime, I considered it good to publish the work again, but improved and based more accurately on the right texts. I commend all my readers to the grace of God. Amen.”
In the mid-week Lenten series, we will lean heavily on Luther’s 1525 commentary. I would like to have you hear Luther as much as is possible. In fact, I’d like to let Luther do most of the talking, to the point that I’ll let you know when it’s me and not Luther who is speaking rather than the other way around, (“I would only add…” “let me also say…” or something like that.) I’ll do some rewording and rephrasing where necessary and lots of editing since Luther can get pretty wordy.
Needless to say, learning about Martin Luther is not the primary objective in these sermons. The ultimate goal of every sermon is to hear our Lord speak to us through His holy prophets and apostles so that the Holy Spirit may work His mighty work of repentance and forgiveness and renewal in us. I hope that you will find this Lenten season to be just such a time for strengthening of faith and growth in grace. I’m confident that Luther has the same goal in mind.
Over the next 18 months we are all going to be hearing a lot about the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. (Luther’s posting of the 95 Thesis in Wittenberg was October 31, 1517.) My hope is that we will not only hear a lot about the Reformation and Martin Luther, but that we may also hear a lot from Luther himself, who’s knowledge of the Bible and unique personality has a great deal to offer believers in every generation. Luther’s commentary on the Seven Penitential Psalms is an excellent place to begin. If you would like to read the actual text of the commentary, you can find it in “Luther’s Works: Volume 14. Concordia Publishing House”.