River City Spokane

The Greatest Need: Psalm 51:1-17


Welcome to Gospel Home Brew, a resource from River City Church. May the Word of God brew in you today, as we study the scriptures during the season of Lent.

Today we begin our observation of the season of Lent. Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter. During lent, Christians reflect on our sin and are reminded of our need for the sacrifice of Christ to redeem us and to make us right before a Holy God. For the next few weeks, we will see just how deep our sin dwells and so just how much we are in need of a Savior.

For many people, when they think of Lent, they are immediately reminded of a season in which they avoid eating sweets for 40 days. Honestly, until recently, I would have told you the same thing. In my early Christian life, that is exactly what Lent was. It was a time to give up something that I loved in order to remind myself to pray. And yes, that is part of it. But in addition to that, I would suggest that Lent is a time to be reminded our of our sin nature, and the state of desperation that we are in, if we are outside of Christ. A yearly remembrance of our spiritual poverty without the saving blood of Jesus will hopefully spark a renewed sense of thankfulness for Christians. So let’s jump in.

We will start our journey in Psalm 51. Psalms is a wonderful book in which we get a close look at the thoughts and feelings of people who love God, particularly David, a man very close to the heart of God. We do not always know the chronology of the book, but in this case we do. Psalm 51 was written just after Nathan the prophet went on an errand from God to confront David about his affair with Bathsheba. If you remember the story from 2 Samuel, David had an affair with Bathsheba. When she got pregnant, David tried to cover the sin up. First he brought her husband home in hopes that he would lay with his wife, but he refused because his comrades were at war. And so, David sent him to the front lines to be killed. After all of this, and his sin was exposed by Nathan and ultimately by God, he wrote this Psalm.

Let’s read Psalm 51, verse 1 through verse 17.

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 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. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 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. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 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. 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. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. 14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. 15 Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 You do not delight in sacrifice,or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”

What an incredible cry of repentance. We would be wise to study the repentance of David for he was a man of great renown, yet a man of great sin and disappointment. It is interesting that the man who God said was “after his own heart”, was an adulterer, liar, murderer. How do we reconcile these two realities? I think the scripture reveals that David was a man of great repentance, and so you and I ought to do the same. So where do we start?

Second Corinthian 7 tells us that it is godly sorrow that leads us to repentance. We must be broken over the sin in our lives. We can never truly repent unless we come to grips with just how sinful we are. David was in a constant battle with his sin. He says in verse 3, “I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me.” David was so distraught by his sin that he couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was always in the forefront of his mind. It literally haunted him. You hear in the Psalm how David grieved over his sins. When God, is his loving kindness, reveals our sin to us, it should haunt us. Of course, I don’t mean that you should live in shame and defeat. If you are in Christ, then He bore your shame. However, if we take a look at David and other Biblical figures, sin was never minimized. It is a big deal. It is the very reason we need Christ. So why did David’s sin haunt him? Because David knew that it was not Bathsheba that he sinned against, or Uriah, or even the child that she would bear, but God himself. Sin does not just hurt you and the people around you, it is an attack on God.

You may be thinking to yourself, “Well I am not haunted by my sin, but I have never committed adultery, or killed someone.” But David does not see his recent sins as the only problem. David recognizes in verse 5 that he was conceived in sin. He has never been pure or holy or faithful to God. There is a deeper issue than his recent backsliding. An issue that you and I share with him. You see, David’s adultery and murder and lying was not the disease, but the symptoms of the disease. Paul tells us exactly what this is in Romans 5 when he describes that when Adam sinned, we were in Adam. And so, you and I were also conceived in sin. We were sinful from the very beginning. We were infected before we were born.

It is out of this desperation that David pleads for mercy. We can feel David’s desire to be clean and right before God. But it is hopeless unless God himself intervenes. I am struck by the means by which David expects to be cleaned. It is God doing it, not David. The words that David is praying – wash, cleanse, blot out – are action words that God does. God does it. He is the active one. And why would God do those things for David, or you or me? It is revealed in the first verse. He does it because of His unfailing love and great compassion. It was very clear to David that the only way that he made clean, is by the compassion, the love and mercy of God. David has nothing to offer in return. The same is true for you and me.

So lets fast forward a few hundred year to first century Palestine. Israel and all mankind was stuck in the sin in which they were born into with no way out. There was no way to gain righteousness. Sure, there was the law of Moses, but it just seemed to point out just how far they were from being able to keep it. Even if one could keep the law, what about the fact that

they are sinful at the very core of who they are. It seemed there was no hope, unless of course, God in his great compassion and love, made a way.

And then,

“the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

And also

Romans 5:8 says that “God showed his great love for us, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

So what about you? Where were you before you met Jesus and believed in him? Take some time to reflect on just how dark and desperate your life was and would be without the redemptive work of Christ. Then, pray a prayer of thanksgiving that God, rich in mercy, made a way where there was no way.

This is Thomas and I am praying that this week God would reveal to us just how vast a chasm sin created, followed by overwhelming thankfulness for the work of Jesus.

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