Summary: Examining Psalm 51, we see the pattern of Confession, Pardon, and Re-Creation (CPR) at work in David's life, and still effective for us today through the work of Jesus Christ. Preached on Ash Wednesday as an introduction to the season of Lent
INTRO: Today is Ash Wednesday, and throughout the world, Christians of many
branches of Christ's church are observing this unique day in the Christian
calendar. It is a day of penitence, and fasting. It is, quite frankly, a
rather gloomy day. In fact, all of Lent seems to be somehow depressing. Like
most Christians, I prefer the celebratory times like Christmas and Easter.
So why do we have Lent? Why all of this emphasis on Sin, sacrifice, and
Much of the answer to these questions can be found in the words of the
Let's take a quick refresher course on David. David is remembered by all as
the greatest king of Israel. It is David who as a small boy slew the
Philistine giant, Goliath. It is David who is the great ancestor of our Lord
But David has a problem. It all began one day when his armies were off at war,
while he remained home in Jerusalem. It was evening. David went up to the
roof of his palace, and stood looking out over his magnificent capital city.
He was feeling proud of his accomplishments, but maybe a little bored as
well, back here, all alone.
As David looked around, there below him in a neighboring building, a movement
caught his eye. And as he looked closer, he realized that it was a woman - a
naked woman - bathing.
Well, like most men would, he continued looking for a few moments, then
politely turned away. But he couldn't get her out of his mind. He went back,
and watched some more. He began to devise a plan...just a theory at first,
but a plan.
He would send her a royal summons, to join him for dinner. Wouldn't that be a
nice treat. And maybe after dinner....
And as he watched, and thought, and fantasized, his resistance weakened, and he
decided "Why not. After all, I'm the king!"
To make a long story short, he sent for her, he slept with her, and she -
This was a problem. Because Bathsheeba, which was her name, was married.
Not only was she married, but she was married to Uriah, a soldier in David's
army. Who had been away for a long time.
David had Uriah called home from the front, to "report on how the war was
going." And he invited Uriah to spend a few nights at home. That way, Uriah
might think the baby was his. But Uriah refused to share the joys of the
marriage bed while his men were deprived of the same privilege.
When David realized that he could not cover his sin by deception, he sent Uriah
back to the battle, and gave this order to his General.
"Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw
from him so he will be struck down and die."
And that is exactly what happened. David committed murder, to cover his
adultery. He married the widow Bathsheeba, convinced that he had gotten away
with his sin.
It was only a short time later that the Lord sent the prophet Nathan to David,
to tell him a story about a crime that had been committed within his kingdom.
"There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich
man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing
except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with
him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup, and even slept
in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
"Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking
one of his won sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come
to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and
prepared it for the one who had come to him."
Well, when David heard this story he was incensed. He raised his kingly voice
and pronounced the verdict "This man deserves to die."
Imagine the silence in the courtroom as Nathan looked David in the eye and said
"You are the man."
In the privacy of his chamber, David wrote these words when confronted with
that awful truth. Somehow, by the strength of his character, they were
preserved so that generations would know of his sin, but also how he responded
to his sin. He turned to the Lord, and prayed:
"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot away my transgressions.
Wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.