I invite you to remain standing for the reading of God’s word. Psalm 51, verses 10-19, we look today at the rest of Psalm 51, which we started last week, the familiar hymn of David’s repentance. As we look to the reading of God’s word, he would join me in prayer. God, our helper, by your Holy Spirit, we ask that you to open our minds that as scriptures are read, that as your words proclaim, that we may be led into your truth, that we would be taught your will, Father, that you would open our eyes to a further horizon to see the goodness and the greatness of all that you have given to us to your son, Jesus, who is the author and the perfector of our faith, for is his name that we do pray. Amen. Beginning in verse 10, Creating 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. Then I will teach transgressions your ways and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodguilt, 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. For you will not delight and sacrifice or I would give it. You will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrived heart. O God, you will not despise. Do good design in your good pleasure. Build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then we delight and write sacrifices and burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. Then bulls will be offered on your altar. For the word of the Lord, he’s be seated. In a sinful moment, King David pulled the pin and he blew up his life and he blew it up in a catastrophic way. When we do something wrong and we’re trying to put it in a better light, we can say something like, Hey, it’s not like I killed somebody. We look at David who committed adultery, who committed murder, and this was the man after God’s own heart. It’s catastrophic. Then he didn’t just kill Uriah. You recall that because of his scheme, several of his faithful soldiers were killed along with Uriah.
Then he quietly tries to clean up all his loose ends, and he thinks that it’s the end of the matter, except God has different plans. The Bible is really unlike any other ancient writings. We see that here because it does not whitewash its heroes and heroines. The only hero of this book is God. And that is good news for us. The only way that we can clean up the loose ends of our own sin is if God is the one doing the cleansing. God’s word, it levels the playing field for all of us. What we see in our sinful hearts is different by degrees, but not by kinds from David. Jesus told us that if we’ve lusted, we’ve committed adulry, that if we’ve hated, we’ve murdered. Why we could say, Well, I haven’t done that. I have done that. It’s different in degree, but not of kind. If you are standing in a septic tank up to your armpits or up to your neck, what difference does it make? It’s still a septic tank. It’s gross and it’s the stench of it. It reaks because our sin reaks. And because our polluted and sinful heart separates us from the Lord, we need him to wash us.
We need him to restore us. David was powerless to undo what he had done. He could not cleanse his own heart. He could not renew his own spirit, and joy was outside of his reach. As a side note, many people are offended by the Bible’s teaching of God’s absolute sovereignty and predestination or anything like that. The biggest complaint is usually, That’s not fair. As you look through Psalm 51, you do not get the sense anywhere of God’s unfairness by David. That’s the last thing on his mind. There’s a human powerlessness to Psalm 51. The bulletin and I asked this question, when youyour awareness of your toll of your total dependence upon the Lord when it collides with the desire to be the captain of your own ship, what happens in your heart? Typically, what happens to people is we try to self-atone. We try to somehow make up for our sins. Usually, the preferred method for us is if I feel bad enough, long enough, then God will accept me. I can go outside for a while and moat and feel bad and I’m a terrible person and there are certain time periods over, I can come back in and be near God.
That’s really just a means of trying to control the situation. How do I control the narrative? How do I control the atonement of my sin? I said last week that guilt is really, at its heart, a religious problem. It’s an offense against God. That’s the nature of our sin. We have violated God. The big three religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, they also take us in a direction of self-atonement. Try harder. Do more good things, be a better person so that you work out your bad karma through reincarnation, do some good things that outweigh the bad things. It’s just do more. Do better. In Christianity is unique and it stands alone because God becomes a man in order to atone for our sin. Jesus plunges himself into the septic tank to rescue us. There is no self-rescue for David. He lays himself out before the Lord and he’s entirely dependent upon God’s mercy. A renewed heart and a renewed witness are far beyond his reach. We look here at this renewed heart. We follow up from the first two verses last week where David, he has this urgent cry to God, and he speaks of, My transgressions, my iniquity, my sin.
He covers all of it with these three words. Then he asks the Lord for his three-fold renewal, blood out, wash, cleanse. To highlight this, we see that here in verse 10. It begins with, Creating me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. In the Old Testament, that word create is used exclusively of God’s creative work. We see it in Genesis. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. God is the one who creates. Men and women, we build, we fashion, we make out of things that already exist. God alone creates something from nothing. David is powerless to make fashion, build a clean heart, or to renew his soul. He needs God to create what he cannot do. Then he moves into verse 11, Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Commentators Stuart Barone, he puts it this way. He said, This verse, he said, It expresses a holy fear of a man who has his eyes open to the depth of his own iniquity, lest at any moment he should be left without the comfort of the Holy Spirit, who is the only source in him of every good thought, every earnest desire, and every constant resolution.
It is the cry of one who knows as he never knew before the weakness of his own nature, the strength of his temptation, and the need of divine help. That plea, that calling out to God. With that then in verse 12, Restore to me the joy of your salvation. Uphold me with a willing spirit. Now, no doubt, our sin will remove joy from our hearts. It just does. When we’re doing things we ought not to, we’re not joyful about them. We’re removed from that joy. It is also true that a lack of joy will lead us into sin to start with. It’s a both hand. When David was lounging on the roof and looking around and his eyes fell on the beauty of Bathsheba, bathing below him, his heart was not satisfied with joy in God. That’s true of all our sin. At some level, all of our sin is giving up a joy found in the Lord and finding it in other things. What exactly was going through David’s mind at that time? We don’t know exactly, but it’s easy enough for us to put some of those things together that we would probably think of because we’re human, too.
We do the same things. Oh, it’s lonely being the king. The pressures, the responsibilities. Nobody really understands what it’s like. I just need a little me time right now. That young woman, she’s going to fill up a little what’s lacking in my life. Yeah, she’s married, but I’m the king, and nobody’s going to know anyways. I feel like I’m emotionally dried up a little sponge, and I just need some fresh water just to fill me up a little bit, and that’s what she will provide. Look, we can justify every sin that we do, and we do. We find a reason to justify the sins that we do. David is no different. Every sin is reaching for what we think is an immediate joy that God is somehow preventing us from having now. We feel justified in taking. That’s the nature of idolatry. It’s finding our joy in something that we think will give us life, even if it’s apart from God, which it always is apart from God. Jeremiah 2, a familiar passage, tells us God’s indictment against Israel, for my people have committed two evils. They have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and they have made for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Rather than the fountain of all good and life, we go to overflow water in a muddy, broken well. That’s what idolatry does. David recognizes that now, and he says to the Lord, ‘Restore to me the joy of your salvation. Even that restoration of joy is God’s work. It’s not David, it’s God. In the first half of the Psalm, there are a multitude of words for sin, and God is only mentioned once. Here now in the second half, God is mentioned six times and sin only once. One writer says it this way, Sin disappears as God appears, this transition that takes place in the Psalm. Remember, it’s constructed for public worship. As we come and worship, our joy is restored. As we bring our hurts, our longings, our unfulfilled expectations to the Lord, as we do that together, where the Lord attends to our joy. Now, joy is more than happiness. It can be found in the deepest suffering. There’s a paradox of Christian joy. It is found in the midst of sadness and affliction, and it is in these very places that gives proof to its power, the power that only God can bring in that joy.
I read somewhere that the joy comes easier, the more often you’re joyous. In Juliana Schmenn, she put it like this. She said, Joy is not a lighthearted laughter. It’s an effort, a daily exercise of seeing the beauty of one’s life through thick and thin, of singing Hallelujah on a happy day as well as on a dying day. That’s what real joy does. That gives way then of a renewed heart, a renewed joy gives way to a renewed witness. Then he says, I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will return to you. Now, this is not some presumptuous running to grab the microphone and start instructing other people. That confession where you make yourself the hero, even in your confession, where you can get up there and, Oh, I was lost, but now I’m found. Almighty God picked me up and put me on the I’m here today to tell all of you my story by the grace of God. Well, the words are okay, but the spotlight is totally on me, not on the Lord. We’ve been around things like that where it’s just off. You could even talk about the great things of God that brings attention to you rather than to God.
That’s not what David is doing. He’s instructing sinners. His life is a lesson to them because of what God is doing. He is the one who gets the glory. He is the one who we see at work. David’s story is a story of a merciful God who redeems his people. Those who know their sin know their hearts condition, and then they are instructed by what they see in David’s life. People are instructed by what they see in our life that God has entered into because he’s the hero of the story. We also know that if David is the gold standard and he could mess up this bad, there’s hope for you and I. Because my sin is the same as David, so it may differ in degree. It’s the same in kind. There was hope for David. David goes on, he says, Deliver me from bloodguild, O God. O God, of my salvation. And my tongue will sing a loud of your righteousness. That righteousness that David is singing about, it points to God’s righteousness in justifying sinners. We see that in 1 John 1, very familiar. If we confess our sin, He is faithfulful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteasness.
Notice the apostle, John, does not say God is faithful and merciful, but rather faithful and just. That word just has the same root as righteousness. Why is that important? How many of you have come to the Lord with the same sins over and over and over again? You keep coming back. At some point, you would expect His mercy just to give out. How many times can He forgive me for this? But we are told He’s faithful to His justice, His righteousness that He has given to us. Jesus is interceding before us. As we come before Him again, His Father, that sin has been paid for by me. My righteousness covers it. I have paid that debt, it’s canceled. It doesn’t stand against us because of the righteousness of Christ given to us. God is faithful to that righteousness. It leads us then to verse 15. Oh, Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare Your praise. Even this, we see is the work of God. The Lord acts, open my lips. We respond, declare Your praise. This declaring a praise, it’s a part of our witness to God’s grace and His mercy, which will flow out of a renewed heart.
Now, some think verse 16 is speaking against the sacrificial system, which makes verse 19 sound a little weird, but if you look at it together, he says, For you will not delight in sacrifice or I would give it, you will not be pleased with the burnt offering. Then verse 19, Then you will delight in life sacrifice and burnt offerings, whole burnt offerings, and the bulls will be offered at your altar. These things aren’t put in opposition to one another. I appreciate Calvin’s remarks on this. He said, David has nothing to present which could purchase God’s favor. He said, The Jews, when they presented the sacrifices, could not be said to bring anything of their own to the Lord, but rather to be viewed as borrowing from Christ’s necessary purchase money of redemption. The author of Hebrews makes this abundantly clear. All of this, sacrificial system, points to Jesus. It all looks forward to Jesus. Even as they are participating in the means that God has given to them, the power comes from the cross. David is not going to do anything to sacrifice to gain this from God. It is God’s mercy and grace through and through.
He moves into verse 17, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrived heart. O God, you will not despise. As I said, our guilt and our shame, it’s a religious problem. Sin is a violation of God’s commandments. When we stop trying to hide from Him, we stand before a holy God exposed with our shame and our guilt. In doing so, we own it. We take ownership of what we’ve done. That is a broken spirit. That’s contrition. The Lord forgives. He breaks the power of sin. He pays the penalty of sin, and he removes the stain of sin. It’s complete. It’s all the work of God. Through and through, a work of God. Last week, I said, self-absorb people don’t repent, they resent. Resentment is the opposite of contition. There is no witness to the Lord’s mercy and grace if you’re self-absorbed. We use the Lord often again as a way to put the spotlight back on us. When we are upset with someone that we think has wronged us in some way, we typically then look for more things to be offended about by that person. The initial thing happens, and then we start working back through our memory and start tabulating.
Not only did they wrong me, they’ve never really appreciated me for who I am. Everything that I’ve done for them, You know what? They’ve never reached out to me. They never really cared for me. On and on and on and on. You just keep adding to the list of something that when someone’s wrong to you. When we’re repentant, when we are seeing the wrong within ourselves, we see the layers of our own sin. Then we go, Not only did I wrong God, I’ve never really appreciated what God has done for me. I’ve never reached out to you, Lord, except when I’m in trouble. I’ve never really been concerned with the things of the Lord. On and on it goes because God has worked in our hearts. We see ourselves differently, and it gives us an entirely different posture towards others. A renewed heart leads to a renewed witness of the Lord. A byproduct of this confession and contrition is we are simply less offended by other people. Think about that. We’re in a highly offended society right now. Everybody’s offended. When you see your own heart, you are less offended because you go, Yeah, they really blew it.
But I’ve blown it lots of times, too. I’ve messed up a lot. I’m really grateful for the grace that God gives me. I don’t like what happened, but I can understand it. It gives you a completely different posture to enter into somebody else’s life. Croatian, theologian, Marifal, Wolf, he said, Forgiveness flounders because I exclude the enemy from the community of human, even as I exclude myself from the community of sinners. But no one can be in the presence of the God of the crucified Messiah for long without overcoming this double exclusion. See how that works? When someone wrongs us, they’re outside of my camp, of the people God’s working with, and I’m outside of their camp, and therefore we can’t come together because they’re a greater sinner than me. They really messed up. They’re not really worthy like I am of God’s grace. They’re in a different category. Psalm 51, it removes this double exclusion. It’s good news for David, it’s good news for us. It enables us to have real reconciliation with one another. It’s similar to the hotel rooms where you have the joint doors into each other’s room. What this is telling us is that we have to have our door open.
Even if they keep theirs closed, we have no control over that. Someone keeps that door shut, we can’t open it. But as Christians, our door has to be open to the possibility of reconciliation because of what God has done. He has opened the way. Yes, for some sense, it’s grievous and difficult. I’m not trying to make a lot of that. We’ve been seriously wrong. That is a work of God to open that door, as all of this is a work of God. We step into it, keeping that door of reconciliation open because God has been merciful to us. He has renewed us. He has cleansed our hearts. That is the foundation, the bedrock for us to be able to go to others. That is good news. In Matthew 1 is the genealogy of Jesus. Starts out in the typical way Abraham, the father of Isaac. Isaac, the father of Jacob. Jacob, the father of Judah. And on through. Then verse 6 said, Jesse, the father of David, the King. David is the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah. He could have called her Bathsheba, but he doesn’t. He mentions Tamar, mentions Ruth, mentions Rehab, the wife of Uriah.
Why? It’s highlighting David’s sin. King David, the father of Solomon and wife of Uriah. Solomon is number seven, eight down the list of sons. Yet he’s in the direct plan of the Messiah. The lineage of Jesus includes him. Jesus’ genealogy is not sanitized. It’s a long list of sinners and sinners and sinners. That’s good news for us because David is not the only one who blows up his life. We do. We blow it up. There’s no one outside of his redemption. God can redeem all of us. Consequences to sin that David felt the rest of his life? To be sure. But it wasn’t the end. He had a restored relationship with Jesus. Ultimately. It was the Lord who brought him back in to return the joy of his salvation. That enabled him to once more see of God’s praises, to once more know the greatness of his creator. That is the gift that God gives to us. We have that. We have the ability then to be men and women of great peace in a time and a place of great tumult and unsettledness because of the good news of the Gospel of Jesus. We can bring that in.
It will require to turn down the offensive temperature gage. It will require to turn up the mercy, the humility gage. That’s what we have as a gift into the world. That we can bring that. We can be witnesses to that. Not to bring the light to ourselves, but to bring the light to the glory of Jesus. That people can look and go, Wow, you’re messed up. What do you have that’s different? I don’t have anything in me. I have Jesus. That’s the only reason that we can be here. There’s nothing in us that brings commandation that we can offer to God. It’s what God has offered to us by His son taking the plunge next to us in the septic tank. Brothers and sisters, we are over our heads. He takes us out and He cleanses us. He washes us. That is a message that the world is in desperate need of. That is a message that we, as the body of Christ, live out here with one another here in this community and beyond, so that Jesus would receive the reward of His suffering. Pray with me. Father Almighty, you are good, you are grand, and you are glorious.
And we thank you for the redemption that you have given to us through your son. Father, we confess, Lord, we believe, help our unbelief. It is hard, Father, not only to see our sin, but also, Father, to forgive those who sinned against us. We pray by your Spirit that you would continue to open our eyes to see, Lord, the enormously of the payment given by our savior, Jesus. We pray for the ongoing work of your Spirit that he would continue to enable us, to embold us to live lives worthy of praise to you. Father, thank you for your forgiveness. We pray that your joy would abound in our lives. To the praise and the glory of Christ in whose name we pray, Amen. We stand as we sing together, Forgiven.
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