Swimming In The Psalms: Responding To Our Sin (Psalm 51)
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
When the prophet Nathan came to him
after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
[not according to my performance, my “deserving” His mercy thru my good deeds]
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
[don’t just cover up my sin, O God—blot it out.
Like a stain on the carpet—don’t just put a piece of furniture over it—the stain remains! Blot out (don’t rub in!)—carefully remove the stain & make us clean!
Isaiah 43:25: 25 “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake,
[not because we’re amazing, but because He is!]
and remembers your sins no more.”
Oh the Gospel!
When the Lord Jesus erases His people’s sin & guilt–justification–
He also leaves no faint pencil marks of what was written in our record!
2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
[This is what Christ offers thru faith in Him & His death/resurrection:
Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, let us settle the matter,”says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”]
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
[David did not justify or water-down his sin;
didn’t make it seem like “not that big of a deal.” He called it what it was.
“The Lord Jesus didn’t die for ‘mistakers,’ He died for sinners” (pastor Mike Woodruff).
What terms do you use for your sins?
Mistakes? Imperfections? Flaws?
The terms the Bible uses are powerful—please click HERE
for a post that goes into more detail on these Biblical terms.
Why does this matter?
Mistakers look for a consultant/advisor/improver.
Sinners/rebels/convicts look for a Savior, King, Master & God & Resurrector.]
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.
[If we could see sin for what it really is, we would agree with God’s response to sin:
the cross for those who repent & believe,
or eternal separation for those who don’t.]
5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
[I wonder if many avoid repentance of sin & admission of guilt–
coming to Jesus just for a little pick me up or behavior modification–
because they think that’s when Christ gives them their spiritual orange jumpsuit;
But the opposite is true: repentance admits
that we are already wearing prison clothes
& cries out by faith to the Lord Jesus Christ
for His free robe of righteousness.]
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
[David doesn’t say, “Improve/enhance me to be a better version of my current self.”
He says, “Make me a NEW self, make me clean,
don’t mow down my sin,
uproot it from my heart completely.”]
8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
[As the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin—shows us how bad our sin is—
it feels bad before it gets better.
There is a pain involved, a grief, a sorrow:
2 Corinthians 7:9-10: “…yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
But the Holy Spirit leads us to rejoice
when we receive the Lord Jesus as our Savior & King,
when we look to His performance, not our own!
Oh the mercy & compassion of the LORD in both the Gospel
and in the bringing us to Him thru the Gospel!]
9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
[New heart, not an improved old heart!]
11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
[In our sin, we need to be reminded of Christ’s work on the cross, His free gift;
we must remember the Gospel,
or else we’ll change Christianity to 1 of 2 extremes:
- either a license to sin or
- an indentured servitude where we try to
pay Christ back
thru our devotion.
Help us, Lord, not to change the Gospel!
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you
[David rightfully saw his role toward other people:
introducing people to the LORD
so that they would turn away from their sin (repentance!)
and turn toward the LORD & His salvation (faith in Christ Jesus!)!
This is our mission as well, my friends—nothing less…]
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
[There’s a sense in which we downplay our sin
and we subconsciously sing of our own “righteousness,”
we rest in not having done any of “those” kinds of sins.
David had accomplished much—but he didn’t rest in that—
he rested in the LORD & His mercy/compassion…THAT is the Gospel.
We probably have not committed David’s specific sins,
& yet we are guilty of bloodshed as well:
- to break one part of the Law is to break all of it (James 2:10),
- adultery in the heart/thoughts/desires
is just as bad as in the body (Matthew 5:27-28),
- anger in the heart is just as much murder
as anger with the fist (Matthew 5:21-22).
15 Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.
[David’s psalm of confession ends in praise to the LORD—
joy for David, joy in God, replacing guilt/shame!]
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
[No reduced sentence due to “good behavior”,
no fine we can pay for our freedom]
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
[True sorrow over our sin, crying out to the LORD for mercy,
only looking to Christ & His sacrifice,
trusting in His work thru the cross & empty tomb!]
18 May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Among many lessons, Psalm 51 shows us what to do with our sin:
hide IN Jesus, not hide FROM Jesus.
Loved ones, on t.v./in movies you see many defense attorneys
advising their clients NOT to admit guilt (even if they ARE GUILTY!),
not to sign a confession because the lawyer
may be able to get them off the hook through a technicality or a loop hole.
I wonder if this is why so many bristle at or ignore Christ,
why so many are offended that the Bible describes us humans
as wicked and rebellious—
we don’t want to admit our terrible guilt and sins,
our rejection of God and our desire to be our own god—
because we are hoping for some kind of loophole/technicality in the end:
- I’m not perfect but I’m not that bad—
certainly not bad enough to deserve hell!
- I was never told about Jesus!
- I was mistreated by the church!
- I was raised poorly!
- God’s not fair!
- God’s being too harsh! etc.
Oh loved ones, there will be no loopholes or technicalities with God!
We have no excuse (Romans 1)!
But why do we try to sneak out of God’s Court House
through a bathroom window
when the death of God’s Son & His empty tomb
open up the front door of the Court Room
for us to walk out in freedom, in forgiveness, in adoption, in new life,
in a full pardon from all our guilt!?
God has rolled out the red carpet of freedom for us,
stained red with Jesus’ blood…
Our sinfulness—and yes the devil—wants to frighten us:
“If you make a full confession of your terrible guilt and sinfulness,
then God has the power to not forgive you,
to send you away from Him forever!
DON’T GIVE HIM THAT POWER!
Wait for a loophole, look for the technicality,
search through the BIBLE for such a back-door!”
Yes, if we do sign our confession to Jesus,
He DOES have the power to send us to hell,
He alone has the authority to judge us and condemn us…BUT HE WON’T!
EVERYONE who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved…
(Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13).
- Have you called on Christ for mercy & new life,
or just given Him a brief wave/head-nod across your busy life?
- Have you called out to Jesus for salvation,
or just some earthly blessing/behavior improvement?
Don’t hide FROM God with your sin,
hide IN HIM by confessing & repenting like David!
Salvation from sin is His gift through Christ—
the cross is woven throughout Psalm 51.
Soak/swim in Him, loved ones, to blot out the terrible stain of our sin,
to soothe the terrible burns of our sin…