Psalm 51 has always been one of my favorite Psalms...perhaps even one of my favorite passages in all of scripture. It was truly a blessing for me to be able to teach on this week. I think that what most captivates me is David's ability to find perspective in the midst of tremendous turmoil. Let's be honest, he is in the midst of an absolute 5 alarmer! Everything around him is on fire (see 2 Samuel 11-12)!
When we find ourselves in a situation like this, we often respond in one of two ways. The first is that we attempt to "dig our way out." This is how David initially responds himself. After giving into his lust and being with Bathsheba, then learning of her pregnancy, he devises a sinful plan to cover up his sin. When that doesn't work out as he planned, he goes deeper into sin by ultimately having Bathsheba's husband Uriah killed.
This is why the term "digging your way out" is such an oxymoron. When you find yourself in a hole, it would be illogical to expect to escape by continuing to dig. Instead, you just keep getting deeper and deeper in the pit. This is exactly what happens when we attempt to resolve our sin with more sinning. It only makes matters worse.
On the other hand, some people when they find themselves in a difficult situation respond by running. Adam and Eve hiding in the garden and Jonah hopping a ship to Tarshish are perfect examples of this response. When the going gets tough, the tough may get going...but the runners get running for the hills...far and fast! I liken this response to a little child who pulls the blankets over their head when they are afraid, thinking that if they can't see what they are afraid of, it isn't really there. Unfortunately, ignoring or fleeing from trouble doesn't make it go away in the real world.
Honestly, I've been guilty of responding in both of these ways myself in my less admirable moments. We all fall into these traps. Psalm 51 however, instructs us on what it looks like to respond with genuine remorse, but also expectant hope. This is what true repentance looks like, and it requires that we have, like I said earlier, the proper perspective.
Listen to some of David's words from this Psalm:
"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions." (verse 1)
"Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment." (verse 4)
"Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice."(verse 8)
"Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit."(verse 12)
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (verse 17)
In the midst of his desperate brokenness, David see's things clearly. Rather than attempting to fix things himself (and inevitably adding sin upon sin), he seeks God. Likewise, rather than fleeing from God, he runs to him. In both cases, David is changing direction. This is the definition of repentance. He was formerly moving away from God, but now is drawing closer to him. When we respond to God with genuine contrition, he is faithful to respond to us with grace and mercy.
Our sin separates us from God. It drives a wedge between us and our Heavenly Father. It dishonors us and grieves our Lord. However, when we respond to our sinfulness with genuine repentance, we begin the redemption process. No longer does our sin bring shame, but rather God uses it to produce spiritual growth and maturity in our lives. This produces an attitude of gratitude and worship in us...which in turn glorifies God.
When scripture tells us that he is making all things new (Revelation 21:5), it literally means ALL THINGS. We are broken and as such, we will continue to struggle this side of eternity. Our sin will hurt us, hurt the ones we love, cause pain and chaos in our lives, and stymie our pursuit of God. There is much we can do to wrestle away its control over our lives, but the battle will continue to rage all of our days. And when we let down our guard for even the slightest moment...it will rear its ugly head in our lives. The question that we all must answer in those moments is, how are we going to respond? Are we going to dig ourselves into a deeper pit? Are we going to run for cover? Or are we going to lean into the Gospel and its power to transform?
If you missed this week's sermon (or just want to listen again), follow the link below to listen. Or subscribe to our podcast in iTunes.
Part 7 - Delighting In God Through Repentance
Questions discussed in this sermon:
1. What is repentance?
2. What motivates and fuels our repentance?
3. What does genuine repentance look like?
4. Why is repentance so important to our worship?