Mercy

True Repentance

Psalm 51

Psalm 51 is one of the most beautiful prayers of repentance in all of the Bible. The heading just above the beginning of the Psalm tells us that it is “A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.”

David, the greatest king (other than Jesus of course) sinned terribly against the Lord. I’ve written about this event previously, but you can go back and read about it in 2 Samuel 11 if you want to review. David slept with another man’s wife, the wife even of one of his trusted soldiers, Uriah. He made many unsuccessful attempts to cover up his sin, and ultimately ended up having Uriah killed.

2 Samuel 12 then details an encounter between David and the prophet Nathan in which David is confronted with his sin. This is a fascinating event in the life of David, and if you don’t know the story or haven’t read it in some time, I would recommend you go and read it now. For time sake however, I’m not going to go into great detail here today.

What I do want to talk a bit about today though is David’s response to this confrontation with the prophet Nathan, and David’s response when he is confronted with his sin. That is what we have here in Psalm 51.

David’s sin with Bathsheba and his attempts to cover up his sin are tragic. Sin is tragic. The sad fact of the matter is that all sin is tragic, and the consequences and repercussions of sin are often wide reaching and can be felt for years to come. This is certainly the case with David and his sin. The good news though, is that God doesn’t just leave us in our sin. He confronts us with our sin, he convicts us of our sin, and he gives us the opportunity to repent and turn away from our sin. Once this repentance happens, then God will pour out his grace and mercy upon us and forgive us of our sin.

Psalm 51 is the record of David’s repentance. It is a beautiful prayer of repentance and one that I believe we all would be well served as Christians to look to, and even pray for ourselves on a regular basis. In this Psalm David appeals to God’s character – his mercy and steadfast love – and asks God to blot out his sins. He admits he is a sinner and always has been and his sins weigh heavily upon him. David asks God not to cast him away from His presence, he asks to have the joy of his salvation restored to him. He promises God true worship, and that he would tell all people of the merciful ways of God, and that he would live a life of praise.

As we read through this Psalm, we see clearly that David acknowledges his brokenness over his sin – he truly mourns over his sin. This is an important point I don’t want us to miss. Many times we think of repentance as simply being sorry for sin. I think often times we aren’t so much sorry for our sin, but we are really just sorry that there are consequences for our sin. Ironically, we usually aren’t sorry for our sin, until we are caught in our sin. This isn’t true repentance.

True repentance is brokenness over our sin. True repentance is understanding how serious our sin is. Our sin, all of our sin, is a sin against a Holy God. (Verse 4) Sin is no small matter. David understands this and begs God to forgive him for his transgressions. David is truly broken over his sin.

David also doesn’t try to justify himself, make excuses, or try to blame others. What about us? What is our first response when we are confronted with sin? Usually we respond like our first parents, Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, how did they respond when God confronted them with sin? Adam blamed Eve, and even God himself. Eve blamed the snake. No one was willing to fess up and just say, “Yes God, I disobeyed you. Please forgive me.” I wonder how different things would be if they had.

True repentance doesn’t involve us making excuses or trying to justify ourselves. True repentance involves confession. Why make excuses? God knows the truth anyway!

So, Psalm 51 is a beautiful prayer of repentance because it is an honest confession of sin, and a sincere plea for God’s mercy. Our prayers should be no different.

As I read through Psalm 51, I also get a sense of joy. David is a man who knew God very well. He knew God’s character. He knew God was merciful, he knew God was a God of steadfast love. (Verse 1) As David pours out his heart, you get the sense that David knows that he is forgiven. David isn’t going to sit around and dwell on past failures, he is going to take hold of God’s grace, and live his life in response to it.

David says, “Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Verse 7)

But David isn’t content just to rest in the fact that he is forgiven. David asks God for a pure heart. He wants a heart that is renewed and on fire for God. David asks God for a “clean heart” and a “right Spirit.” (Verse 10) David then promises to tell other sinners about the mercy of God so that they too may come and experience it themselves, for God will receive all who come to him broken and truly repentant over their sin. (Verse 13-15, 17)

This is good news isn’t it? That all of us have the same access to the God of mercy that David did – the God of mercy that was revealed to us in Jesus Christ. Everyone reading this right now has the opportunity to come to God, confess our sin, receive forgiveness, have our hearts made pure, and joyfully take hold of the salvation God offers us all through Christ.

Once we experience this, the only logical response is praise God, and to go out and tell others about how merciful our God is. Once receiving this glorious salvation all of our prayers ought to be, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.”

Can we pray that prayer today? I pray that you can.

Minimizing God: Missing The Real Jesus

 

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There is something very dangerous happening within the church today. A hazardous mistake that many of us are prone to make. Initially I was going to call this a dangerous trend, but in actuality this has been happening amongst God’s people ever since God has had a people. So what am I talking about? (The title of this post should give you a hint.)

Minimizing God.

When I speak of minimizing God, I’m not speaking in this case about our mistaken priorities, and even idolatry. Surely this too is a problem, and what I am about to discuss could definitely lead us further into this deadly trap. But for now, what I mean by the phrase “minimizing God” is the way in which we all tend to take one attribute of God’s character and elevate it above every other attribute.

For instance, there are some Christians who want to discuss nothing but God’s mercy. Others seem to speak of nothing but the judgment of God. Others say God is a God of love, and say they could never serve a God of wrath. But what does the Bible say? Is God loving, or is he wrathful? Is God a God of mercy, or is he a God of judgment? Well, what if I were to tell you the answer is yes?

God is all of these. God is Love. God is merciful. But God also judges, and God also pours out his wrath. Our God is just that big. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the Scriptures.

God of mercy:

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespases, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved…” Ephesians 2:4-5

God of judgment:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” 2 Corinthians 5:10

God of wrath:

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36

God of love:

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

Within God, we see all of these attributes. God is a God of love, a God of wrath, a God of judgment, and a God of mercy. God exhibits all of these attributes, and does so perfectly. And now I want to take it a step further…

Some of you probably noticed I only quoted from the New Testament. I did this intentionally. I have heard some people say, even some people who call themselves Christians things like, “The God of the New Testament is different from the God of the Old Testament.” Or, “Well, God is full of wrath in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament we just see grace.”

I’m not going to spend a lot of time here, simply because this is ridiculous. The Bible says time and time again that God doesn’t change. The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament. This being true, we have to keep in mind that Jesus Himself was and is God, and therefore exhibits all of these attributes of God in himself. As Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God…” And Hebrews 1:3, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature…”

So many times people act as if Jesus was some feel good hippie who never judged a soul, or never called out the sin he saw in others. But Jesus is the one who stormed into the temple swinging a whip and flipping tables.(John 2:15) Jesus is the one who said to the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more.”(John 8:11) Jesus is the one who will judge the sin of the world, the living and the dead.(Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Timothy 4:1) So, just as God exhibits mercy and judgment, love and wrath…So too does Jesus. You can’t separate any of these divine attributes from who they are. You can’t elevate one attribute above the other. When you do, you are minimizing who God is in his very person. You are making the God of the universe, who was revealed to us perfectly in the person of Jesus Christ, smaller than he really is. This is extremely dangerous.

We must worship the God of the Bible. Not the God of our own minds. All of us are in danger of falling into this trap. I would dare say, all of us have fallen into this trap at one time or another. Maybe we are there now. This is why it is so important for us to continually study the Scriptures and seek the face of God in prayer. This is why we must be continually seeking to know Christ and seeking to abide in Him and His Word.

God revealed to us through Christ is not a one dimensional God. He is a beautiful multifaceted diamond, that grows more and more beautiful at every angle.

 

 

 

 

Psalm 51 Meditation: Who You Are

Mercy
Abundant Mercy
Love
Steadfast Love
This is who you are
Rain down your mercy
Pour out your steadfast love…

Sin
Sinner
It is who I am
It is who I have always been
Against my God have I sinned
Sin I chose
Sin is what I always choose
Yet this is not who I was called to be
This is no longer who I am
You have taught me
You are teaching me
Within my soul I hear your voice…

Cleanse me and I will be clean
Wash me whiter than snow
In your mercy I find joy
In your love you have broken me
My sin you no longer see
My heart is yours
Your life is mine
This is who I am
My spirit longs for you
My spirit clings to you
You’ve filled my mouth with your words
My song is praise…

I sing for others
I sing for you
I sing for those who are yours
I sing for mercy
I sing for love
Abundant mercy
Steadfast love

This is who you are…