Summary: Forgiveness as seen in Psalm 51
“Forgiveness - Psalm 51”
Two little brothers, Harry and James, had finished supper and were playing until bedtime. Somehow, Harry hit James with a stick, and tears and bitter words followed. Charges and accusations were still being made as mother prepared them for bed.
The mother instructed, “Now James, before you go to bed, you’re going to have to forgive your brother. James was thoughtful for a few moments, and then he replied, “Well, OK, I’ll forgive him. He then knelt to say his prayers:
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.
Then he looked over at his brother and said,
“but if I don’t die before I wake up, you’d better look out in the morning.”
Do you know anyone like that? We humans struggle with the concept of forgiveness. Dr. James Dobson reports seeing a sign on a convent in Southern California reading:
“Absolutely No Trespassing--violators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.” Signed, “The Sisters of Mercy”
What is this concept of forgiveness really all about? Where is the balance of mercy and compassion and vengeance and judgment? The truth is that we struggle with forgiveness because of our humanness, because we all have a sin nature. Yet, as we look this morning at God, we find that He loves to forgive. He desires to offer his forgiveness to us.
In Exodus 34, God appears to Moses and reveals himself. We find these words written:
Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."
The basis of our forgiveness comes from the very nature of God. He loves to forgive his people.
But we struggle as his people because we all have bad days. Some days are worse than others, and some days are better than others. You know, it’s a lot like that in our spiritual lives as well. Some days we live victorious over sin, and other days, it seems that we yield time after time to temptation. We gather great encouragement from the Bible, for as we read of the great saints of old, we remember that they were human just like us, filled with days of victory and days of defeat. Remember Solomon, the wisest man alive--he’s the one who started worshiping idols, letting his heart be turned from worshiping the true God. Remember Elijah, standing on Mt. Carmel calling down fire from heaven one day, and the next running for his life, telling God to just let him die. Remember David, the man after God’s own heart--he’s the one who sinned with Bathsheba, killing her husband Uriah so she could be his wife. We want to talk about David’s example this morning. Join me in turning to Psalm 51.
We all face failures in our lives spiritually. This morning, I want us to remember that God knows us perfectly, and he knows all about our sin. We can never hide our sin from God. What is it that you think you are hiding from God? It may be that someone here is struggling with living a double life. You come out to church and everyone thinks you’ve got your life together, but deep down inside, your life is a mess.
*Someone here may be thinking about leaving their husband or wife; not for unfaithfulness, but you just want a change. You’ve grown tired of the monotony of the daily routine.
*Someone here may have a problem with alcohol: you say it just loosens you up, but you know you get totally out of control.
*Maybe you are addicted to something: you say you can stop any time you want. But the truth of the matter is that there is no way you can stop outside of the direct help of God.
*Maybe you struggle with lust. You feed the lust through what you watch on TV or through the books and magazines that you hide so no one else will know. Maybe you look on the internet and you think there’s never a trace of what you’ve done.
*Maybe your problem is gambling. You say it’s only a harmless little dollar on a lottery ticket. But that was months ago. Now you’re up to $30 a week on tickets. And you’re spending more each week, hoping that any day now you’ll win the big one.