Asked and Answered
(Read Psalm 51)
Sin confessed, and forgiveness requested. Believers understand the Bible to be the actual the Word or breath of God, and that he used his people to pen His books. Tradition attributes the Book of Psalms to a myriad of writers, including: David, Asaph, the sons of Korah, Solomon, Moses, Ethan the Ezrahite, Heman the Ezrahite, Haggai, Zechariah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah. The Psalters covered hopes, joys, despair, faithfulness, doubts, and yearnings of the human heart.
Psalm 51 was David’s direct plea to God for mercy. For this devotion, it’s good to know a little background about how David got to this point. David’s sins included: adultery with Bathsheba, murder of her husband Uriah, and in covering his sin from others. Of course, there is no covering any sins from God. He is aware of our transgressions and feels the pain from our behavior. Sometimes he breaks in on our lives to help us recognize the gravity of our sin in order to provide an opportunity for redemption. God used Nathan the Prophet to boldly confront David of his crimes. This set forth a pathway for David’s spiritual healing.
“Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!”
David knew that only God has the power to have mercy on his sins. God knows every hair on our head, and God’s mercies are just as plentiful. David asked God to “blot out” his sins. This was a plea to cross out his wrongs out of God’s book. This verse also points forward to how Jesus Christ’s red blood crossed out our sins in God’s book.
“For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.”
Many of us worry about the consequences of sin more than the sin itself. That says a lot about our heart. David didn’t say, my “penalty” is ever before me. He was bothered by the sin he committed not the about the consequences. True repentance and forgiveness would be
much more authentic if we are sorry about the offense we commit regardless of our punishments. God desires a change in our hearts not in our bargains with him.
“Against you, you only, have I sinned.” While David sinned directly against Bathsheba and Uriah, his mistakes created a wider attack on God. Anytime we sin, it’s offensive to God. It’s hard to fathom, but all sins are equal to God. God set the rules, he wants a relationship with us, and he wants us share his goodness with others. When we confess our sins to God, we humble ourselves giving God glory and confirming his justice and his holy character.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
David knew that he couldn’t cleanse himself, so he needed God to create a clean or “new” heart within him. Animal sacrifices were once necessary for cleansing and complete purity, but since Christ’s blood on the cross we have been made pure through him. In these verses, David anticipated the great promises to all who share the truth of the New Covenant through Christ.
One definition of sin is anything that separates us from God. When Cain murdered Abel, God essentially cast him away from his presence. David was equally fearful that God would do the same for his sins. “Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” How painful would that be to be taken away from God’s presence after worshipping and fearing him. It would really be the ultimate punishment. David had softened his heart and submitted to his sins. He achieved what God wants for all of us, what God desires from us in our hearts.
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.“
David wasn’t asking to escape punishment. David knew that animal sacrifices could purify him with God. He might have known that eventually his Lord, Jesus Christ, would grant us all salvation who believe hin him. David was asking for the “joy” of his salvation to return to him. For David, it wasn’t if he would receive salvation, rather it was the lack of joy of God’s salvation that tormented him. He was tortured by this. Are we?
You might wonder what other of David’s contemporary kings thought of him acknowledging and submitting to his guilt. Just like in our contemporary society, sinning to the non-believer is no big deal. It’s more important to worry about your connections, appearances, and followings. We should be more like King David. We shouldn’t worry about what others think when they judge us. God did not despise David for his sins, more likely, he would have been pleased with David’s broken and contrite heart.
Without digging into the all men and women are born sinners discussion, let’s just admit that, none of us are without sin and we’ve all, “fallen short of God’s glory” (Rom 3:23). Jesus Christ has paved a pathway for us to enter the most perfect place ever imagined. He has opened the door to his eternal kingdom. To enter, we must have the heart of a child, clean, honest, and sorrowful, when we’re wrong. And when we’re wrong, do we worry about God punishing us? More importantly, we should be more worried when he doesn’t pay attention. When He answers us, he still cares.
• Have you had a Bathsheba incident? Have you sinned against both people and ultimately God in a harmful or malicious way?
• Do we just try to do better next time? Do we leave God out of the picture altogether?
• Where is your heart right now? Are you troubled by something you’ve said or done?
1] Assuming you’ve had a Bathsheba type incident or something equally as sinful, how have your processed it? Is it buried or something you’ve apologized and repented for? If you do sin against someone else, know that you’re also sinning against God. Be humble, confess your wrongness, and pray for your joy of salvation to return to you.
2] With your good and bad behavior, how does God fit into the picture? Are you surprised when you sin or surprised when you don’t? Look to God as your moral compass. Look to him even after your trespass against someone. He will lead you to happiness and holiness. Pray for a new heart. Pray for God’s joy to return to you.
3] Take some time to examine your hearts about Psalm 51. Read the Psalm 3x. Then, pray about any sinful behavior you’ve developed. Do you feel your heart softening? If so, thanks for taking the extra steps. If no, please keep reading or email us.
Where else in your life can you live out the teachings of Christ? Look for next week’s Devotion.