While I was on vacation last week I spent time reading the Psalms. In doing so I came to Psalm 51 and just couldn't stop reading it and dwelling on David's words. He says some amazing things that tells us about God's amazing grace and our natural reaction or response to His grace. I believe that if we miss or diminish any parts of what is in this Psalm we will either do nothing or we will "do" out of guilt or obligation. Yet when we see the amazing grace of God, like David did, we will respond spontaneously!
So what does David say? First let's look at the context: Nathan the prophet confronted David with his sin of adultery and murder. David thought he could get away with his sin and he couldn't. God used Nathan to humble David. It was now a meeting between David and God...
He knows his sin is so great and his inability to bring anything to the table of redemption, he pleads for God to:
- Give him mercy (v1)
- According to His (God's) steadfast love. This steadfast love is hesed in the Hebrew. This is His persistent and unconditional tenderness, kindness, and mercy, a relationship in which He seeks after man with love and mercy. David knows his only hope is God's pursuit of him. David was hiding and justifying his sin and David failed...as we have (v1). God chases His people!
- His only hope for redemption is not his own self-righteous actions but God "Wash[ing] me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!"(v2). David needed to be washed, cleaned, sin removed from his inner being and the only way as for God to do it. David can't do a thing but confess and ask for a new heart (v10).
- He knows he sinned and his sin is against the One and Only Lord of Lords and Kings of Kings. His sin is great because he sinned greatly but even more so he sinned against God alone. And he sinned against Him since his conception!! He knew he was an utterly depraved human being. David...David...the man after God's own heart...this David! He acknowledges his sin. Not just a petty little "I sinned" or "I messed up" trivial confession but a deep heartfelt confession digging deep into his soul (vv3 - 10).
- Note a very important verse here: "Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice" (v8). David wants/needs/desires/craves/ the joy of God and it was God who "broke his bones" which brought David to this point! God, in His hesed love, chases us, loves us with a one-sided love and redeems us! God does it all!
Then with redemption, forgiveness, the joy of the Lord being restored to David and you and me, note what happens next:
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
(Psalm 51:13-15 ESV)
Two amazing, natural things happen when we fully understand our sin and His mercy...
1. We will share this amazing love with others...naturally. We won't hesitate or be afraid. Why? Because we now know it's all God's doing and not ours!
2. We will worship! This is NOT just a Sunday "thing" but a 24/7 reality because of His great salvation.
What I learned in reading this over and over is the reason churches don't grow and friends don't come to Christ is not because of anything other than our lack of understanding our great sin and His greater amazing grace. When we really really get this the church will explode and multiply. Until then we will sit and live for self rather than for something bigger and better and greater than ourselves...the purpose of God - to make disciples.