This message is the most important in all the Psalms messages I will do because it is the ‘Gateway’ message. The only true prayer we do comes as a result of being real with God about sin. Sin is the thing that stands between us and God. In the Psalms we have clear instruction as to how God wants us to deal with it in our relationship with Him. Because we are created in God’s mage we have an inborn need to be one with Him. The only way this happens is HIS way… by having our sin forgiven.
Bonhoeffer: ‘Most Psalm presuppose complete assurance of the forgiveness of sin. That may surprise us. But even in n the New Testament the same thing is true… There is such a thing as the confident leaving behind of sin for the sake of Christ.’
Those moved by God’s Spirit to write and compile the Book of Psalms knew God! They knew Him well enough to know His forgiveness; which is an unchanging aspect of the character of the Triune God of Scripture. So in knowing Him they understood forgiveness, but also we see an understanding of how we are to be as God’s people, they way we are to relate to God regarding our sin. Various Psalms teach us a posture, an attitude and actions known as repentance! Repentance is the doorway to forgiveness of our sin. It is also part of what enables us to be sensitive to our sin and as we grow to despise it. So in prayer dealing with a Holy, All Knowing, All Loving God we practice repent. What does repentance entail? Awareness of Sin / Ownership of Sin / Contrition for Sin / Belief in the absolution of Sin (God given forgiveness) / Intention to not Sin / Desire for God’s Will.
Today’s text works out the process of getting to that place. Of forgiveness. It evokes all the emotion around the need we have to be forgiven, the need we have to seek God for that. Each sentence is instruction on how we are to relate to God and speak to Him about our sin and guilt. Each sentence tells us how God wants us to do it…so we better listen! We believe David wrote this Psalm after being confronted by Nathan the Prophet regarding His adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah The Hittite. It is important to remember that even though God forgives even the most vile sin, there is consequence: the child dies and there is forever division in the house of David.
Psalm 51: (47 cross references in 19 verses)
1 God, have mercy on me according to Your faithful love. Because Your love is so tender and kind, wipe out my lawless acts. 2 Wash away all the evil things I’ve done. Make me pure from my sin.
- Because we know God, His character, His essence… we can receive mercy
- Admission of: lawless acts, evil things…SIN
3 I know the lawless acts I’ve committed. I can’t forget my sin. 4 You are the one I’ve really sinned against. I’ve done what is evil in Your sight. So You are right when You sentence me. You are fair when You judge me.
- Honest self evaluation is essential
- No matter how we sin it is ultimately rebellion against our Creator
- Being ‘In Christ’ means we trust God’s justice / we believe HE knows best
5 I know I’ve been a sinner ever since I was born. I’ve been a sinner ever since my mother became pregnant with me. 6 I know that You wanted faithfulness even when I was in my mother’s body. You taught me wisdom in that secret place.
- Recognition of our ‘Sin Condition’
- From the moment God creates us we are willfully rebellious
- Yet even from conception we know right from wrong
- Life begins at conception and so does the influence of the ‘Life Giver’
7 Sprinkle me with hyssop, then I will be clean. Wash me, then I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear You say, “Your sins are forgiven.” That will bring me joy and gladness. Let the body You have broken be glad. 9 Take away all my sins. Wipe away all the evil things I’ve done.
- Hyssop was used in ceremonial cleansing
- The idea is God can make it happen
- And God can and does make it clear to us that HE can make us clean
10 God, create a pure heart in me. Renew my spirit making it faithful to You. 11 Don’t send me away from You. Don’t take Your Holy Spirit away from me.
- This is asking to be transformed
- Through the work of God’s Spirit in us we can be different!
- He wants to make us faithful to Him, He wants us to desire purity & holiness
12 Give me back the joy that comes from being saved by You. Give me a spirit of willful obedience, so that I will keep going. 13 Then I will teach Your ways to those who commit lawless acts. And sinners will turn back to You.
- It is asking God to reconnect us with the assurance we belong to Him
- It presupposes a life that has been surrendered to Christ (Gospel)
- The idea is that we need God to constantly renew our desire to follow Him
- Part of this kind of life is being public with what you believe about God
- There’s a connection between biblical salvation & effective evangelism
14 You are the God who saves me. I have committed murder. God, take away my guilt. Then my tongue will sing about how right You are no matter what You do. 15 Lord, open my lips so that I can speak. Then my mouth will praise You.
- Trust in God’s ability and willingness to save souls… no matter how bad the sin
- When we know this we have an attitude of praise and we sing and speak it
16 You don’t take delight in sacrifice. If You did, I would bring it. You don’t take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 The sacrifice You want is a broken spirit. God, You will gladly accept a heart that is broken because of sadness over sin.
- This is a clear recognition that empty religious rituals are not what God wants
- This is a confession: I know what you want God, me to be real about my sin
- This is the goal of repentance: brokenness that drives our lifestyle
18 May You be pleased to give Zion success. May it please You to build up the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then You will delight in the sacrifices of those who do what is right. Whole burnt offerings will bring delight to You. And bulls will be offered on Your altar.
- This is now asking for favor for the people of God
- And that favor will make their heart align with God
Prayer Lessons: How Yahweh / Christ wants us to pray about sin & guilt
We are to ask God to have mercy on us based on His covenant love.
We are to pray believing He can and does completely forgive us.
We are to honestly and fully confess our sin and acknowledge that it is rebellion.
We are to agree with God that all sin is against Him.
We are to pray that we submit to His justice.
We are to take ownership of sin and admit we know it is not what God has taught us.
We are to ask that God to forgive and to assure us of His forgiveness.
We are to enjoy the assurance of salvation, let it heal us, and trust it is complete.
We are to ask The Holy Spirit to give us godly desires and to renew our faithfulness.
We are to ask God to let us know He is with us and to fill us with His Spirit.
We are to ask God to enable us to recapture the joy of our salvation.
We are to ask God to make us want to be obedient so that we can persevere.
We are to ask God to enable us to demonstrate His reality to those who would repent
We are to assert our trust in His saving us. No matter what we do or what God does.
We are to pray prayers of praise to the God who saves.
We are to ask God to give us a broken spirit; we know that is what He truly wants.
We are to ask God for His favor to be shown to His people.
We are to ask Christ to protect His Body so they can lay down their lives in worship.
APPLICATION: Prayer from Psalm 51
Father I ask for Your mercy that flows from faithful love. The depth of Your love wipes out my sin. I ask You to purify me; spiritually cleansing me of the evil I have done.
I am in agreement with You about my sin. I desire to deal with the reality of it. I confess that it is You personally I have sinned against. Sin is yours to define and I have done what You call evil, so I am under Your judgement regarding my sin. I submit to your will.
I acknowledge my lifetime of sin that began when I was conceived. Even then Your Spirit influenced me so that I knew You wanted holiness. Thank You for giving me the wisdom that allows me to know You!
You can make me clean by desiring it, wash me as only You can. Personally tell me that You have forgiven my sin. That is my source of joy, it heals the wounds sin has given me because it is a complete forgiveness. In Your love You erase the record of my rebellion against You.
Yahweh I ask you to recreate my heart & soul, spiritually renew my faithfulness to You. Lord, teach me to obey Your will. I ask you to allow me to experience Your constant presence, don’t let my sin separate us in any way. Lord fill me with Your Holy Spirit.
Father please reignite the joy I have had in knowing I am Yours. By Your Spirit, give me a spirit of willful and persevering obedience. As You teach me I will display and proclaim Your ways to those who do not honor You so they may turn to You and abandon sin.
I believe that You are the Lord who redeems me, no matter the depth of my sin and guilt. You forgive it, just as You forgave David. Because I know Your infinite love I trust You, no matter what You do or what I can perceive. From that faith I will have a song in my heart that praises You.
Father, Son, Holy Spirit; I want to give You what You desire from me as Your child: a repentant attitude that yields a lifestyle of brokenness about my sin. May I plant repentance and reap brokenness regarding my sin against You Lord. I know this is what you want from my life as I surrender it to Christ.
Lord Jesus Christ please give Your Body favor, may You be pleased to protect it and guide it’s member to do what is in agreement with Your will by Your Spirit. AMEN!