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  HONEST TO GOD PSALM 51:1-19: “Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart.” (v6)

You remember one of our songs: Onye Nwe Anyi, anyi n’ario gi zitere anyi amamihe Gi amamihe di anyi nkpa! Prophet Hosea lamented that God’s children are destroyed for lack of wisdom and knowledge of God. We have learnt the importance of facing truth and reality in life. Today we are looking at honesty-Honesty is a facet of moral character that connotes positive and virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, straightforwardness, including straightforwardness of conduct, along with the absence of lying, cheating, theft, cunning, deception, etc. All of these attributes is very much lacking in people especially in Africa which is where an average African is different from the people of Europe and the America including some other developed countries where good morals plays a vital role in their every day conducts as a people. Honesty also involves being trustworthy, loyal, fairness, and sincerity in life on earth. Honesty promotes authenticity. Honesty is a reflection of your own thoughts and feelings. Are we truly honest to ourselves talk less of God? As we continue exploring why, in order to experience good emotional, mental and spiritual health, we need not be afraid to face negative emotions that may, from time to time arise within us. This is the first step in the process of mourning. During a counselling session with a woman who I felt was repressing or trying to forcefully put down and subdue her emotions, I made mention of the second beatitude: ‘’4Blessed and enviably happy [with a [a] happiness produced by the experience of God’s favour and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace] are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted!’’ as seen in Matthew 5:4. On hearing me mention this Bible passage She reacted by saying; ‘I have always had great problems with that beatitude because I never feel sorrow or grief, or any of those negative emotions you talk about in the beatitude. I am happy all the time. I don’t feel the need to mourn over anything.’ As we talked, it became clear to me that this woman certainly did have negative emotions, but was unwilling to acknowledge them. Her marriage was a troubled one which by reality ought to be giving her great concern, yet when I asked her how she felt about the fact that her husband paid her no attention she replied: ‘The Lord wants me to love my husband, doesn’t He?’ Notice what happened: I asked for a feeling response and what I got was a rational response. Rational response concerns using reason or logic in thinking out problems based on rules and processes, the capacity to be agreeable to reason. On the other hand feeling response concerns emotion, affection, sentiment, passion or love to a person, thing or situation. Do you now understand that there are people who want to have a reason why they will do a thing and there are people irrespective of whether they are at fault or not, will go miles out of love, passion, emotion, affection or out of a deep seated concern for the one they love and cherish to plead for peace to reign! The fact is that today people no longer actually love or cherish people! Are you such a person who love and cherish or you are one that will not move for reconciliation unless there is a reason for you to do so? You can now see why the woman does not mourn, because she feels there is no reason for her to do so and as such she fools herself with a happiness that is not real, a pretended happiness whereas in reality she is dying and crying inside! After several weeks of intense counselling, this lady realized that she was avoiding facing reality. The problem wasn’t so much that she couldn’t admit to her emotions but that she did not want to do so may be out pride or right. Many of us are like that! She was afraid to feel any negative emotions, such as grief, sorrow, sadness or regret, or mourn and her claim to always being happy was unauthentic, not real. It was a happiness achieved by means of denial, which is not the kind of happiness Lord Jesus wants us to have. However, it was a good moment both for her and for me when she came out from behind her defensiveness or right claiming and was then able to rise to a new level of honesty in her life.

  When You Have Sinned - 2 Samuel 12, Psalm 51:

The contents of this Psalm 51 includes, 1. The psalmist prays for mercy, humbly confessing and lamenting his sins as seen in verses 1-6. Do we humbly accept our sin and ready to confess them? 2. He pleads for pardon, that he may promote the glory of God and the conversion of sinners as seen in verses 7-15. 3. God is pleased with a contrite heart, A prayer for the prosperity of Zion as seen in verses 16-19. Psalm 51:1-6, David, being convinced of his sin, poured out his mind or soul to God in prayer for mercy and grace with all amount of sincerity. Do we pour our heart and soul out to God in confession after we are convicted of our sins exactly the same way like David? In this regard whither or to whatever place or condition should backsliding children return, but to the Lord their God, who alone can heal them? David grew up, by Divine teaching, an account of the workings of his heart he returned toward God. Those that truly repent of their sins, will not be ashamed to own their repentance and return to their God who alone is capable to heal. Also, he instructs others what to do, and what to say. David had not only done much, but suffered much in the cause of God; yet he flees to God's infinite mercy, and depends upon that alone for pardon and peace. He begs the pardon of sin. The blood of Christ, sprinkled upon the conscience of the soul, blots out the transgression, and, having reconciled us to God, reconciles us to ourselves. Transgression is an act that goes against a law, rule or code of conduct; an offence. The believer longs to have the whole debt of his sins or transgressions blotted out, and every stain cleansed; he would be thoroughly washed from all his sins by the Holy Spirit indwelling him; but the hypocrite always has some secret reserve of his sins, and would also have some favourite lust spared. This is what we do because we are not sincere. David had such a deep sense of his sin that he was continually and sincerely thinking of it, with sorrow and shame-he sincerely mourns of his sins. His sin was committed against God, whose truth we deny by wilful sin; with Him we deal deceitfully. And the truly penitent will ever trace back the streams of actual sin to the fountain of original depravity. He confesses his original corruption. This is that foolishness which is bound in the heart of a child, that proneness to evil, and that backwardness to good, which is the burden of the regenerate, and the ruin of the unregenerate. He is encouraged, in his repentance, to hope that God would graciously accept him. Thou desirest truth in the inward part; to this God looks, in a returning sinner. Where there is truth, God will give wisdom. Those who sincerely endeavour to do their duty shall be taught their duty; but they will expect good only from Divine grace overcoming their corrupt nature. Psalm 51:7-15, Purge me with hyssop, with the blood of Christ applied to my soul by a lively faith, as the water of purification was sprinkled with a bunch of hyssop. The blood of Christ is called the blood of sprinkling as seen in Hebrews 12:24, “24 And to Jesus, the Mediator (Go-between, Agent) of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which speaks [of mercy], a better and nobler and more gracious message than the blood of Abel [which cried out for vengeance]”. If this blood of Christ, which cleanses from all sin, cleanse us from our sin, then we shall be clean indeed as seen in Hebrews 10:2, “2 For if it were otherwise, would [these sacrifices] not have stopped being offered? Since the worshipers had [a]once for all been cleansed, they would no longer have any guilt or consciousness of sin”. He asks not to be comforted, till he is first cleansed; if sin, the bitter root of sorrow, be taken away, he can pray in faith, Let me have a well-grounded peace, of thy creating, so that the bones broken by convictions of sin may rejoice, may be comforted. Hide thy face from my sins; blot out all mine iniquities out of thy book; blot them out, as a cloud is blotted out and dispelled by the beams of the sun. And the believer desires renewal to holiness as much as the joy of salvation. David now saw, more than ever, what an unclean heart he had, and sadly laments it; but he sees or realizes it is not in his own power to amend it, and therefore David begs God would create in him a clean heart which only Him can do when you are sincere to Him. When the sinner feels and believes this change is necessary, longs for it and reads the promise of God to that purpose in the Scripture and the Gospel, he begins to ask for it. He knew he had by his sin grieved the Holy Spirit, and provoked Him to withdraw from him. This sin caused withdrawal of the Holy Spirit he dreads or anticipates with great fear more than anything. He prays that Divine comforts of the Holy Spirit may be restored to him. When we give ourselves cause to doubt our interest in salvation, how can we expect the joy of the Holy Spirit to be restored to us? This sin consciousness had made David weak; he prays saying to God, I am ready to fall, either into sin or into despair, therefore Lord I pray thee to uphold me with thy Spirit. Thy Spirit is a free Spirit, a free Agent Himself, working freely. And the more cheerful we are in our duty, the more constant we shall be to it. What is this but the liberty wherewith Christ makes His people free, which is contrasted with the yoke of bondage in sin? This can be seen in Galatians 5:1, “In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off]”. It is the Spirit of adoption spoken to the heart. Those to whom God is the God of salvation, He will deliver from guilt; for the salvation He is the God of, is salvation from sin. We may therefore plead with Him, Lord, thou art the God of my salvation, therefore deliver me from the dominion of sin. And when the lips are opened, what should they speak but the praises of God for His forgiving mercy? Psalm 51:16-19, Those who are thoroughly and sincerely convinced of their misery and danger by sin, would spare no cost to obtain the remission of it. Remission is the cancellation of a debt, charge, or penalty; it is also a temporary diminution of the severity of disease or pain. But as they cannot make satisfaction for sin, so God cannot take any satisfaction in them, otherwise than as expressing love and duty to Him. The good work wrought in every true penitent, is a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, and sorrow or mourning for sin. True penitent is a heart that is tender, and pliable to God's word. Pliable means easily bent; flexible and easily influenced or persuaded to yield. Oh that there were such a pliable heart in every one of us! God is graciously pleased to accept this type of pliable heart; hearts like this is regarded instead of all burnt-offering and sacrifice. The broken heart is acceptable to God only through Jesus Christ; there is no true repentance without faith in Christ. Men despise or overlook true pliable hearts which is broken, but God will not. He will not overlook it, He will not refuse or reject such heart that penitently come to Him pleading; though it makes God no satisfaction for the wrong done to Him by sin. Those who have been in spiritual troubles, know how to pity, mourn and pray for others afflicted in like manner. David was afraid lest his sin should bring judgments upon the city and kingdom in addition to himself. No personal fears or troubles of conscience can make the soul, which has received grace, careless about the interests of others and the church of God. And let this be the continued joy of all the saved and redeemed, that they have redemption through the blood of Christ bringing convictions of their sins in their hearts leading them to plead for God’s mercy, then the forgiveness of their sins according to the riches of His grace which they have enjoyed. Now let us read Psalm 51:1-19, 1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to the multitude of Your tender mercy and loving-kindness blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly [and repeatedly] from my iniquity and guilt and cleanse me and make me wholly pure from my sin! 3 For I am conscious of my transgressions and I acknowledge them; my sin is ever before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified in Your sentence and faultless in Your judgment. 5 Behold, I was brought forth in [a state of] iniquity; my mother was sinful who conceived me [and I too am sinful]. 6 Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart. 7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean [ceremonially]; wash me, and I shall [in reality] be whiter than snow. 8 Make me to hear joy and gladness and be satisfied; let the bones which You have broken rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my guilt and iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit. 13 Then will I teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted and return to You. 14 Deliver me from blood guiltiness and death, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness (Your rightness and Your justice). 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. 16 For You delight not in sacrifice, or else would I give it; You find no pleasure in burnt offering. 17 My sacrifice [the sacrifice acceptable] to God is a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart [broken down with sorrow for sin and humbly and thoroughly penitent], such, O God, You will not despise. 18 Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then will You delight in the sacrifices of righteousness, justice, and right, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering; then bullocks will be offered upon Your altar.


The NY Times reported something unusual that happened at 112 West 44th Street in Manhattan many years ago. Two women, Laura Barnett and Sandra Spannan, dressed in white, beckoned people to unburden their souls. Mrs. Barnett would silently flag the attention of someone passing by, and point them to words which had been stencilled on the glass, “Air Your Dirty Laundry. 1000/0 Confidential Anonymous Free!” Once the person is well out of sight, the envelope is opened and the message taped to the glass for all to see. The portraits are posted as well. Those who come by read the confessions of strangers before adding their own. Some of them are silly; some of them are terrible. “The hermit crab was still alive when I threw it down the trash shoot,” said one. “I want to see SUVS explode. Those people are so selfish,” wrote another. As the day progresses, the once empty glass of the store front is papered like a wall of guilt. “I am dating a married man and getting financial compensation in exchange for the guilt. I’m 25 and he’s a millionaire.” Or another that simply says, “I have AIDS.” (Kathryn Shattuck, "Artists Display Confessions of Passers-By on a 44th Street Storefront," The New York Times (May 6, 2006) This little storefront experiment revealed many things, but the inescapable fact that surfaced across all generations, income levels, and social standings was that a lot of people are hiding. They are hiding from the police or parents. They are hiding from coaches and teachers. Some are hiding things from bosses, and others are hiding things from spouses. And many people today are hiding from God. Tell me, am I talking about you? Sitting quietly, all is well on the outside; yet the words I am speaking are opening closets within. Some of us may be hiding something desperately shameful in our past. An abortion. A shady deal. Cutting corners. That thing you stole. The adult theatre you visited. Those pornographic-pics! Think of the impure thoughts in you that are taking on more strength and energy in you and are threatening to be played out. No one except you knows about the scheming, the lying, or the cheating and cunning acts you are putting up. Your cover isn’t blown open yet! You haven’t been caught. But you know it’s there, and my friend, so does God know all these atrocities of yours. God is mercifully looking the other way for the time being not setting His wrath on move yet because He expects you will repent and seek to make amends! There once was a man who blew it big time. He was an ancient king, super-rich and incredibly powerful. He was a smart leader, wise, and as godly as they come. His name is David. In a weak moment, King David of Israel was basically channel surfing on his palace roof on a hot spring night. He saw a pretty woman named Bathsheba naked taking her bath. Just like pornography draws people in today, David was drawn in. It was Job who wisely said, I have made a covenant with my eyes and mind. How then can I look lustfully upon a young maiden? As seen in Job. 31:1 ’’I DICTATED a covenant (an agreement) to my eyes; how then could I look [lustfully] upon a girl’’? But David was not thinking about God or the purity of his mind in that moment. He foolishly lingered and looked being carried away by lust just as many of us often do. He has been led into temptation just as many of us are led! What he imagined in his mind, he demanded physically by his act. He sent for her and committed adultery with her, even though he knew her husband was one of his loyal soldiers, on a military mission on behalf of David’s kingdom. A little while later, David received a message, the type our girl friends send to us: “I’m pregnant or I have missed my period.” Signed “B.” David immediately set to work hiding skims. He tried to cover and hide his sin by getting her husband, Uriah involved, commanding him to take a leave from battle and come home to his wife. A few days at home between a loving couple and Uriah would conclude that the child was his- this is deception! The deceptive plot didn’t work out for David smoothly at first. Uriah’s sense of duty was too strong. So in a desperate manoeuvre David ordered Uriah’s murder, carefully designed to look like a battlefield tragedy. One sin leads to another! It was the perfect plan. Uriah would receive a hero’s funeral. David would look sympathetic in marrying the grieving widow. No one would question David’s actions. No one pried into his business. He got away with it. “Whew that was a close one!” Is this not how our wicked evil minds and hearts skim and plots? It takes an embodiment of the Scripture and the Gospel to guide our mind and heart against this type of attitude and behaviour! Several months later, a prophet named Nathan came to visit David and during his discussions with the King David, Prophet Nathan told him a carefully constructed story of treachery, betrayal of trust and theft. It’s recorded in 2 Sam. 12:1-4. Listen, I will retell it. In one of the most stunning moments in Scripture, Nathan then says to David, "You are the man!” After reminding this shepherd-made-king of God’s incredible blessings, Nathan openly states what David had so carefully concealed: “Why then have you despised the command of the LORD by doing what I consider evil? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife as your own wife - you murdered him with the Ammonite's sword. Now therefore, the sword will never leave your house because you despised Me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own wife.” Can you see that whatever evil we do comes back to us in equal measure because we cannot run away from the consequences? "This is what the LORD says, 'I am going to bring disaster on you from your own family: I will take your wives and give them to another [d] before your very eyes, and he will sleep with them publicly. You acted in secret, but I will do this before all Israel and in broad daylight.' " What happened next doesn’t happen in the chambers of kings and presidents. Plausible deniability, displacement of blame, attacking the critic, or some other tactic is the common method of operation when you’re caught. David did none of that. 2 Sam. 12:13 records that the king, in a moment of brokenness, simply said, "I have sinned against the LORD." To which Nathan responded, “The Lord also has taken away your sin; you will not die. However, because you treated the LORD with such contempt in this matter, the son born to you will die." Did David deserve to die for what he did? He had sex with another man’s wife, lied, betrayed, and murdered. David himself answers after Nathan’s story: As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die. Heart wrenching consequences would follow, striking not only David and Bathsheba, but innocent people as well who knew nothing of David’s sin. Do you see the way the things of God work out? This slice out of David’s life teaches us something very important: the very best of us fail. Like David, we all have something that we deeply regret, are ashamed of, are embarrassed about, something that has changed us. Maybe you are wondering in a moment like this: How can I ever recover? How can I erase this guilt? How do I find courage and strength to deal with the consequences? Has God written me off? Well, now I want to take you to the rest of the story. David’s example is here to remind us that we’re all caught red-handed with our pants down, no matter how well we camouflaged our sin. But He also shows us what happens after He blew it. If you look at the heading of Psalm 51, you’ll see that it was written after Nathan confronted David with his sin. Like the people in Manhattan, David writes out his private confession down for us to emulate or follow. But unlike those confessions offered to the people of New York, David offers his to God. And get this: His confessional prayer marks out five steps toward spiritual recovery that we can take today. These steps will put you in the spiritual position for God to do His work in your life again. Walk with David the sinner and you will find that God is closer than you think when you’ve blown it big time. I. Take responsibility for your sin - v. 1-5: Many people are fund of shifting blames when it come to life mistakes called sin, which is not proper because the only time you will learn from your mistakes or life errors is when you own to it or take responsibility because that is the only time you will be able to find out where you erred and make amends by using the word of God to transform that aspect of your attitude, character or behavioural pattern which lead you into the error. Notice that David doesn’t fall into the self-justifying trap of shifting the blame. He doesn’t say, “The devil made me do it,” or “I just have a bad day.” He did not point to or blame Bathsheba for bathing on her rooftop or did he blame his general for obeying an order he knew was a bad one. He faces the music, he faced the reality honestly: it is my iniquity, my sin, my transgressions; David took responsibility, which is how every true child of God is supposed to. David said, “I have twisted and perverted something good into something evil; I have taken aim at a false target; I have trespassed where I am not allowed.” How many of us can do exactly that? Down in v. 5 David adds, “5 Behold, I was brought forth in [a state of] iniquity; my mother was sinful who conceived me [and I too am sinful].” David believed in that he, like every human being, is born with a bent or a propensity to sin. This isn’t just an external issue of bad behaviour; it’s an internal issue of a nature that pushes for autonomy or a premature freedom from God and craves sin. David believed he was bad to the bone. But he still doesn’t blame his choices on his mother, his heritage, or anyone else. He owns his own choices. He doesn’t try to cut a deal with God or negotiate with His consequences. He comes clean without conditions. In fact, he closes in v. 4, with the raw truth saying “4 Against You, You only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified in Your sentence and faultless in Your judgment” David acknowledging to God, saying God You are right when You pass sentence; You are blameless when You judge. David is saying anybody who tries to fault God’s divine sentence or blame God for His judgement is a fool because God is just, it is you who offended His law, so you must be ready to admit and take whatsoever consequence that result from your erroneous act. David affirms that your first step toward breaking free of the past and renewing your walk with God is the penitence of your heart towards God. You can forget moving forward until this conviction happens and compel you to take responsibility owing to your sin with a mind readiness and decisiveness to welcome with joy the consequences of your actions but bearing in mind that God has promised to be merciful and to forgive you and by His grace which is His unmerited favour God may intervene on your behalf to save you should your sin want to plunge you into death for the wages of sin is death. When God intervenes and save us He expects that from that moment we will learn to abhor sin and run away from it! But do we? Nke emere juo oyi! We start another one hoping that God will always save us but His word said, will we continue in sin and ask for His grace to abide, God forbid! II. Come clean - v. 1-4: When we talk about coming clean, many people do not understand it. Coming clean means that you should try to follow the word of God and be practicing what it says by living it daily. It has to do with believing in the Lord Jesus especially His death and resurrection because it means that you have faith in the power and saving grace of the Holy Spirit. Living holy and righteous is part of it! Don’t rationalize, minimize, excuse, or spin what you’ve done. Get real and be sincere. David lived in denial for a while before he reached this point. Once he realized he hadn’t fooled God, he stopped playing games. These words we just read are desperate, gut-wrenching, offered by a man who seriously misses what he once knew with God, saw that it leads to nowhere and decided to change, and now he is advising you to follow his example. What happens if you don’t do that - if you just stuff it down, lock it away, and pretend it never happened or it doesn’t matter? Let David tell you from his personal experience. In Ps. 32:2-4, he writes, 2 Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 When I kept silence [before I confessed], my bones wasted away through my groaning all the day long. 4 For day and night Your hand [of displeasure] was heavy upon me; my moisture was turned into the drought of summer. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!” David said, “I was a desert. I was all torn up. I was depressed, ached as though dying inside. The weight or guilt of my secret and open sins was killing me.” Steve Arterburn, a Christian psychologist and pastor, writes that there are really only three reasons why you wouldn’t do this David’s first step: a) You’re afraid of losing your reputation; pride they say goes before a fall! b) You’re afraid of losing your favourite sin; or c) You’re afraid that it might cost you financially, emotionally, or relationally. Can you think of a favourite sin? I don’t know which excuse will keep you in your seat later when we call for honest confession, but if you’re counting the cost or consequence of staying silent properly, I think you’ll decide to follow David’s example, because it is a good example borne out many years of life experiment.

  III: Ask for and receive God’s forgiveness - vv. 1-4, 6-9:

III: Ask for and receive God’s forgiveness - vv. 1-4, 6-9: This should be your and our aim and goal to receive God’s forgiveness for our sins but it all depends on how satisfying God is with you or our repentance, confession and remission of our sins. Tucked into the first expressions of David’s confession we read, Be gracious to me, O God… blot out my rebellion…Wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. When David cries out for mercy, he is appealing to God’s willingness and promise. Remember we have learnt that one of the ways to have a grip on God is to hold Him on His promises. When David asked for his sins to be erased and that he be washed and cleansed, he cries out for God’s work in him to be done. He wants what only God can accomplish - to be totally forgiven of his past atrocities or sins and for God to renew a right spirit within him that will make him hate sin and his sinning tendencies inherent as a faulty nature in him. David wants us to ask God to do the same in our lives otherwise this faulty nature will always militate against us and propel us to sin against God or do things God dislikes. This is amplified in v. 6-9, where David says, “6 Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart. 7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean [ceremonially]; wash me, and I shall [in reality] be whiter than snow. 8 Make me to hear joy and gladness and be satisfied; let the bones which You have broken rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my guilt and iniquities.” Hyssop was a little herb that the Jews would dip in blood for use in ritual cleansing. Sin cannot be forgiven without the shedding of blood. Right here, centuries before the cross, we find a veiled reference to Christ crucified. “God being innocent must shed blood for you to forgive you. I don’t understand what all that means, but make me clean, whiter than new snow. That brings us to… IV. Request a fresh work of God’s grace - vv. 10-12: Do you notice that these things are moving step by step? Having been forgiven from his asking it of God; now in his state of being clean, David wants to sense again what has not been there in him for a long time; in other words David is now about to recover and discover the comeback of something in him which his sin drove away: and that is the presence of God in his life. In v. 10-12, he prays, “10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.” How many of us realize that our sin drives God’s presence away from our life? This is a prayer for gladness and freedom to be experienced. When you’re burning up time and energy covering sin, all joy is gone. God seems to be a million miles away from you which is why no one wants to come to the light for fear that the light will expose him. Lord Jesus said, I am the light and the way! Your prayers don’t work; The Bible seems boring; Church feels dull when God is not present. But once the spirit is renewed just as David pleads for God to flood him with joy and restore that eager obedience that once marked his motives his prayers began to work, the Bible the word of God seem no longer boring, church now feels exciting and enjoyable hence David said I am happy when they say let us go to the house of God and God’s presence which was not before is now restored. Don’t be worried about v. 11. In the OT, the Holy Spirit did not permanently indwell believers. He came upon them for specific works that fit God’s purposes and plans. David knew what happened to King Saul because of his sin and so David wanted to be of use to God again and not be wasted by his sin just as King Saul was wasted by his sins. Let us pray like David, “Father, I want to fellowship with You again. Change me, renew me, transform me, make me willing again.” Spiritual recovery requires you to come clean, to take responsibility for your sin, to ask and receive God’s forgiveness, and pray for His presence and power to once more flow through your life. That brings us to the last step: V. Resolve to use past failure for future ministry - vv. 13-15: Look at v. 13-15: “13 Then will I teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted and return to You. 14 Deliver me from blood guiltiness and death, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness (Your rightness and Your justice). 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise.” This was David saying, “God I want to get back in the game or business with You. I want this new business between You and me to be useful for Your purposes and services to humanity so that I can say to someone thinking like I was thinking before when I was lost from You, ‘Man, this life path, this thinking pattern that you are having now it’s not worth it. I’ve been there and that way before and I discovered that it leads to nowhere and have the scars on my life to prove what I am telling you. There is a better way.” If only you will hear me and follow!


Our brothers and sisters in the faith before us have provided two important keys for unlocking this psalm. First, there is the heading that says, “A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” Supplied by the editors of the Book of Psalms, these headings often point the way to interpreting and applying the psalm. In this case, the heading is saying, “Imagine this as the sort of prayer that David prayed after being convicted of his sins by the prophet Nathan” as seen in 2 Samuel 11 and 12. We begin by recalling that story. The story begins innocently enough: “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go forth to battle…” as seen in 2 Samuel 11:1. But this time the king is staying home. The onetime slingshotting, swashbuckling, song writing soldier is sitting this one out. And then late one afternoon it happens. The old warrior is bored with the soaps and talk shows and takes a stroll out onto the veranda. But wait a minute! He notices a woman; a “very beautiful woman” says the Hebrew text, taking a dip in the pool next door. Then the former man of action goes into action. A couple of calls across gives him the woman’s name and reveals that her husband is away with the army. The king sends for Bathsheba and she comes to the palace. They have a few gin and tonics. They make love. Then she goes home, and that’s that. A few months later, there’s a message for the king. David opens the envelope and reads it. Two words in Hebrew: harah anoki. “I’m pregnant. Bathsheba” Again, the king acts. To account for the pregnancy he brings her husband back from the front. “Go home and sleep with your lovely wife,” he says to him, slipping the soldier a bottle from the royal wine cellar. But Uriah refuses the offer and instead sleeps with the servants out on the lovely lawn. The plot thickens and the story sickens. The king orders General Joab to put Uriah where the fighting is heaviest. Word comes that Uriah has been killed in action. The king does a magnanimous thing. He marries this broken-hearted war widow. End of the story? Not quite. One day the prophet Nathan shows up at the palace. He tells the king about a rich man who has stolen a poor man’s only lamb and slaughtered it for dinner. The king is enraged. “What? Who is this guy? Tell me, and we’ll royally nail him!” “You’re the guy!” says Nathan. David is devastated. And this psalm, says our heading, is the sort of prayer that fits such a situation. When there’s big time trouble, you call in Psalm 51. In verses 1 — 5, the psalm begins with a cry for forgiveness, emphasizing the urgency of the situation with a series of imperative verbs: have mercy, blot out, wash, and cleanse. The picture behind the Hebrew word translated “transgressions” in verses 1, 3, and 13, is one of rebellion, as when children rebel against parents as seen in Isaiah 1:2 “2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: I have nourished and brought up sons and have made them great and exalted, but they have rebelled against Me and broken away from Me”. Is this not exactly our situation with the Lord God Almighty? The literal sense of the Hebrew translated “iniquity” as in verses 2, 9 is “to be bent out of shape.” For example, in Psalm 38:6, we read, “6 I am bent and bowed down greatly; I go about mourning all the day long”, the Jewish Publication Society Bible gives the translation “I am all bent.” The word translated “sin” (Hebrew hata’ in verses 2, 3, 4, 9) or “sinner” (in verses 5 and 13) in non-theological contexts means “to miss the target.” as seen in Judges 20:16, “16 Among all these were 700 chosen left-handed men; every one could sling stones at a hair and not miss” tells of 700 left-handed sling-shotters like King David who could “sling a stone at a hair and not miss (hata’).’’ Do you now see how all the words of the Bible fits each complementing the other? Balancing these words for sin are three Hebrew picture-words for forgiveness. The Hebrew translated “blot out” in verse 1 is also used to mean “wipe” a dirty dish as seen in 2 Kings 21:13 which says “13 And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria and the plummet of the house of Ahab; and I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down”. To “wash” as in verses 2 and 7 could better be translated “scrub,” as one scrubs dirty clothes as seen in Exodus 19:10, 14 “10 And the Lord said to Moses, Go and sanctify the people [set them apart for God] today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes, 14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and sanctified them [set them apart for God], and they washed their clothes.” “Cleanse” as seen in verse 2 and “be clean” as seen in verse 7 is the same word used for washing clothes in a river as seen in Leviticus 13:6, 34, 58 “6 And the priest shall examine him again the seventh day, and if the diseased part has a more normal color and the disease has not spread in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only an eruption or a scab; and he shall wash his clothes and be clean. 34 On the seventh day the priest shall look at the mangelike spot; if the mange has not spread and looks no deeper than the skin, he shall pronounce the patient clean; he shall wash his clothes and be clean. 58 But the garment, or the woven or knitted stuff or warp or woof, or anything made of skin from which the disease departs when you have washed it, shall then be washed a second time, and be clean.” Verses 6—12 offer another request for forgiveness. The verb “create” in verse 10 in the Hebrew Bible always has God as its subject, and the result of the activity is always something entirely new as seen Genesis 1, for example. The psalmist is praying for a brand new beginning in life, a fresh start, a new, clean spirit. In verses 13—17, the one who is praying looks forward to being happy and right with God once again as seen in verses 8, 11-12. Once he/she experiences the joy of being forgiven of his/her sins, he/she vows to witness and teach others about it and sing and praise God as seen in verses 13-15. Many of us have enjoyed God’s happiness but have we taught others? In verses 16 and 17 the psalmist says, “The sort of sacrifice the Lord desires is not something I bring as an offering. Rather, the Lord wants me to offer Him my sin, broken spirit, broken heart and all” as seen also in Micah 6:6-8 “6 With what shall I come before the Lord and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?” People go about thinking that God desires pleasure in their material and money offering; in as much as those items are important in the day to day running of the house of God, what God desires most is for you to offer Him your heart, all your heart! Thus Psalm 51 is a prayer for individuals in distress, but it is also a prayer for communion with God and for the worship of God’s People each day. Every pastor knows that this is one of those psalms that can reach into the depths of a difficult situation. I recall a college student telling me about the sad breakup with his girlfriend. I suggested that he read through some of the psalms. The next week he showed up, bringing his Bible, with passages from the psalms marked in red. “These words were speaking right to me!” he said. Among the texts marked was Psalm 51: 17 about the broken heart which says, “17 My sacrifice [the sacrifice acceptable] to God is a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart [broken down with sorrow for sin and humbly and thoroughly penitent], such, O God, You will not despise.” God will never despise a penitent contrite heart, we have to learn this principle and always ready to apply it. I also remember listening as a man related an incredible story of his unfaithfulness and adultery. When we prayed together, it was Psalm 51 that I reached for. Lastly, the second interpretive key from church tradition is the fact that this prayer, “Create in me a clean heart” from Psalm 51, has long been a part of the church’s weekly worship. So as we read through this psalm, let us try to pin point the key words and always apply them in our day to day life.
Father God, the way You highlight the needs in my life is both awesome and inspiring. You long for me to be an honest and a clean person, I long for that too. Please help me, dear Lord and my Father that in all ramifications You help me to be a cleansed person so that I will offer myself to You as a living sacrifice. In Your name Lord Jesus I ask it. Amen!