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Introduction At this time, I wanted to share with you my appreciation for this Psalm above many of the Psalms written by David. For me, the words in this Psalm are at the heart of the true Christian experience. To deepen you Christian experience, I suggest meditating on this Psalm: • Do you wish to make a long lasting change in your life? • Do you want a deeper religious experience? • Do you want to secret to overcoming temptations? If you take a prayerful look at this Psalm, then I believe that this Psalm can bring about a permanent change in the life of any true Christian. Just like many of the Psalms, Ps 51 is a prayer and a song at the same time. It is a prayer around confession, repentance, cleansing and encouragement. The background to Ps 51 is as follows: One of the main features of this Psalm is really about David’s attitude to his relationship with God. The Psalm is really a personal heart-to-heart honest dialogue with God • David often sells himself as a man of integrity and character. After all, he killed Goliath as a young boy and shows the upmost respect to his enemy in the face of severe injustice. He refuses to drink the water that his 3 mighty men risked their lives for. Honour and Integrity were held in high regard by David………part of the reason why he didn’t kill Saul. David prided himself on personal and Spiritual integrity. Most church going people wouldn’t consider themselves as perfect but they would consider themselves as having a certain degree of Spiritual and personal integrity. In that sense, many of us are like David. • David does tend to show some self-confidence and self-assuredness in his walk with God and rightly so because he has been committed to doing right. He has lived a good life and has tried to follow God’s ways. e.g. Ps 4:3
3But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him • He genuinely loves God. This Psalm is the record of a confessional prayer. When Catholics go for confession, is it a public or private matter? What about your own personal secret sins, would you want them made public? The feeling is that this confession is for a sin of such magnitude that the willingness to record it indicates that it serves as a warning as much as anything else. It warns us in regard to: The types of wrongdoing we are all capable of The right course of action to take if and when we do sin This Psalm is also a perfect example of full and public confession… Would Rupert Murdoch admit to endorsing phone hacking and make a full and public apology? Unlikely, he would lose a lot of face, credibility, not to mention, sponsors and other financial backers. You just don’t admit to wrongdoing in the public eye If a person makes a full and public confession about a secret sin then you know it must be genuine repentance This Psalm is written about a year after a man with the highest amount of integrity both in personal and public estimation commits a crime that is truly putrid….A well planned murder of a loyal servant after stealing the only thing he had of value….his wife. Ex: Columbo Over the year, he must have wrestled with the guilt of his crime and probably had many sleepless nights. He avoided the opportunity to confess immediately and allowed it to fester, only confessing once the prophet Nathan brought it to his attention. To me, this indicates that David would have kept this hidden otherwise and after a while may have become hardened to its’ consequences. This sin brought about many adverse effects in David’s life from then on. This is truly a horrendous crime which would fill our current tabloids to the full; perhaps on a scale of the Tiger Woods or Arnold Schwarzenegger sagas. This Psalm however, has more to do with the attitude of true confession rather than the magnitude of sin. Lets take a look at the Psalm more deeply: Ps 51:1
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Que: What word occurs the most often in this verse? Mercy Interesting that David asks for Mercy before forgiveness…..why is that? Ex 34: 5, 6 5 And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth How would you describe yourself if someone was to ask you about who you were? How does the Lord describe himself? David knew enough about God’s character to know that his primary objective is to be merciful. Something that Judas failed to understand and even many Christians today. They KNOW about Mercy. But have not experienced God’s mercy. David must have experienced God’s mercy before and appeals to it again. We NEED this mercy experience in order to be changed. Read verses 2-5 2 Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. 5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Que: What is the common denominator in these verses? Iniquity, Sin, Trangression, Evil Sin is mentioned 4 times, Iniquity 2, transgression 1, evil 1 What is the message that David is trying to put across? I have sinned, I have sinned, I have sinned and I truly what I have done and what I have become! If someone had told him prior that he would have committed such a sin he would noyt have believed it. Just as if we would not believe it if we were told the same thing.
This comes from a man who holds integrity and honour as high attributes. David understands now, perhaps for the first time, that he is not as good as he thought, he is not as honourable as he thought. And his heart is no different to anybody else’s. He needs cleansing……We all therefore need cleansing! There is so much more we could unpack from these verses, but I am particularly interested in verse 4 when he says: Against thee only have I sinned. Perhaps here is referring to the Law that he has willfully and knowingly transgressed and an acknowledgement that all wrongdoing is a rebellious attack against the rulership and authority of God. We side with the Devil! Lets take a further look at more aspects of this beautiful Psalm. There is another theme emerging when we look at verses: 1,2,7,9 Blot out my transgressions Wash me thoroughly Purge me I shall be clean Wash me Whiter than snow Blot out all mine iniquities There is a sense of desperation here to utterly rid himself of this and ALL other sins. David sees himself as utterly filthy….this is his true condition. In fact, David sees himself as ‘stained’ How would you feel staining the white robe of righteousness that Jesus covers you with when you commit to him. How shameful would that be? David has a stain and he knows he can’t get rid of it. The story is told of a pastor who loved to visit one of the poor of his flock, a woman who took in washing for a living. One day he passed along and noticed her hanging out the washing, so he stepped into the yard for a moment's chat. Knowing her well, he ventured to remark that the clothes did not seem as white as usual. She gave him a reproving look, then said, "My clothes are always white, but today you see them against a background of new-fallen snow and they look dirty; nothing can stand against the whiteness of the Almighty." I guess we can get a glimpse now of why David is described as a man after God’s own heart! How many of us prayer for forgiveness in this manner? Is there a sense of urgency of deep soul searching when we’re seeking God’s forgiveness?
For me, this is a defining moment, a watershed experience, a pivotal point at which you mature as a Christian and finally come to the inevitable conclusion: 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Start over, O Lord…..I must be born again! The whole of Ps 51 can be summed up nicely in verse 10. David appeals to the Creator of the Universe to recreate a new world in him by the power of his word. David is unable to change himself and even when he thought he was good he discovered how putrid he really was. Such an experience is necessary to take that next leap on the road to sanctification. Understanding and hating sin needs to be a sought knowledge as well as the method for dealing with such knowledge. In conclusion, another story: The writer once listened to a native evangelist in the heart of China as he explained how infinitely superior was God's standard of holiness to man's. He said that the foreigners who come to China from Europe and America claimed to be white men, but that they were wrong, since the white man lived in Peiping, his native city. Everyone in the audience grew solemn with mystery and expectation. Then he said, "In Peiping we have the snow man. Put one of our foreign friends alongside him and see for yourself which is the white man." Therefore, In God’s eyes we are neither white man nor black until we realize or reject our need of a saviour.
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