Psalm 51:2 2/18/18 (Create in Me a Clean Heart #2) Wash Away my Guilt
I can’t repeat my whole sermon from Wednesday, but in order for this series to be as effective as possible, I do have to make sure that everybody has some background to this amazing Psalm of David. David was a prolific Psalm writer. He wrote the beloved Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” In fact, he wrote one half of the 150 Psalms in the Bible. Many of them you can use today in absolutely honest and heartfelt prayers to God. And Psalm 51 is one of the biggest. So let me just remind you of the background of the author of this Psalm. He was like all of us, a mixture of good and bad.
Youngest of the eight sons of Jesse
Lion and Bear killer
Poet / Musician Hot tempered
Adulterer / Rapist?
Liar / Manipulator
King David was the guy who finally conquered the Philistines and extended their borders and ushered in the golden age of Israel. He was, in his prime, one of the bravest and best warriors who ever lived. We know what he did to Goliath. Before that he laid out a lion and a bear with a club when he was just a boy. He was a poet, a statesman, a musician, a natural born leader… David was the man… But he was also a man, a very flawed man, who betrayed the trust of one of his closest friends and best warriors, Uriah the Hittite. He committed adultery with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba, then he tried to cover it up by bringing him home from the war for a conjugal visit with his wife. When that didn’t work, he had Uriah murdered “with the sword of the Ammonites.” He had Uriah put in the front lines and had everybody take a step back. And after that all that, David apparently didn’t even look back. He was going on his merry way until God sent the prophet Nathan to tell him a story about a rich guy stealing his poor neighbor’s beloved little lamb. And David couldn’t even see his sin wrapped up in that story until Nathan stuck his finger in David’s face and said, “You’re the man.” You’re that man, who would steal what belongs to your neighbor and try to get away with it. But you didn’t!
Folks, each of us has many forks in the road…
Slide: Fork in the road
…key moments in your life when you have to decide what kind of a person you’re going to be. Our men’s group is studying C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” and just looked at what I think is one of his greatest quotes:
Slide: “…every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.” - C.S. Lewis
Isn’t that true? In the end, you are what you choose to do. And David had a choice to make in that moment of accusation by the prophet. He could have done what all of our politicians have done when they are put in a similar position: try to explain it all away. He could have denied it. He could have destroyed the prophet Nathan on the spot. He could have said, “But that’s not really me. That’s not who I am…” like many say today when they are caught in behavior they know is wrong. In many ways the fate of all Israel hung on what David decided to do in that moment. And in that moment in time we see the true greatness of David – And we see why he was called “A man after God’s own heart.” He simply said:
Slide: “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’” (2 Samuel 12:12–13 NIV)
I am sorry, I have no excuse, please forgive me. And then David did the unthinkable. He made his sin very public in a Psalm meant to be used in worship by God’s people. The Psalm has the following introduction:
Slide: “For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.” (Psalms 51:0 NIV)
Again, who does that? Only somebody who knows he has absolutely no other choice then to throw himself on the mercy of Almighty God. And someone who was willing to let his darkest moment be a lesson for his people. And so he began his prayer with words that every one of us must be able to also pray to God:
Slide: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.” (Psalms 51:1 NIV)
It’s an amazing prayer that we can and should use for our own repentance, and so that we see what it really means to want with all our hearts to walk away from our sin and hold on to God. We too know we have sinned and have no excuse. We must come to God in honesty begging for his mercy. By the way, in these words themselves we see another powerful way that David was a “man after God’s own heart” because this is exactly who God says He is. He says through Isaiah:
Slide: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25 NIV)
Isn’t that a beautiful verse?! God can and does forgive sins – the little ones – and the big ones. God did have mercy on David and forgave him. There were consequences. In fact, the son he conceived with Bathsheba would die. God does not take sin lightly. The proof of that folks, dominates this sanctuary all the time (the cross). But God kept His promises. He had said to David:
Slide: “When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son.” (2 Samuel 7:12–14 NIV)
That promise was partially fulfilled in David’s son, Solomon. But it wasn’t completely fulfilled until God gave His one and only Son, Jesus the descendant of David, Jesus, the King of Kings, Who humbled Himself all the way to the cross and willingly took onto Himself all our transgressions, all our rebellion, all our wrongdoing, so that it would truly be blotted out forever and forgiven on the cross. But David is going to go on with this Psalm of Repentance, and he’s going to show us what sin does to us, what it makes us feel and what we need from God as a result:
Slide: “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalms 51:2 NIV)
You know, this kind of weather can make our cars downright dirty, right?
Slide: My Dirty car pic
And it just feels kind of gross riding around in a car like that. So what do you do? You wash it.
Slide: Washed car
And it feels better – for a while. Of course just because it looks better doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to run better, does it? Especially when it gets kind of like it’s owner, and has a lot of miles on it.
Slide: Mileage pic
And so you’ve gotta pay attention to the inside.
Slide: oil change
You’ll notice the recommended oil change number is not over the actual mileage on the car…
So, can I make the transition? I can clean me up all I want on the outside. I can take a shower and trim up what’s left of my hair, and wear clean clothes, but inside I’m still fallen… still too judgmental, too proud, too lazy, too unwilling to diet and exercise and take care of my body… You name it. I need something more than an outside clean up. And so do you. We need the washing and cleansing that only God can provide. And if we don’t get that, those stains - stay, and they come out in all kinds of ugly ways in our lives. Just to throw a little humor at it:
Slide: Tide commercial
Yeah, it’s kinda funny. Of course, it wouldn’t be if that was you trying to get the job. And it also isn’t when we are stained with sin and trying to anticipate an interview with a holy God…
Those stains in our lives bother us. They bother others also. And they really bother a holy God. He puts it this way through Jeremiah:
Slide: “Although you wash yourself with soda and use an abundance of soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me,” declares the Sovereign LORD.” (Jeremiah 2:22 NIV)
It is always going to be there despite your hardest efforts to remove it – until you allow God to be the One who washes it away in the blood of the Jesus Christ our Lord. It’s the Lenten season, so in a few weeks we’ll be reading about Pilate. Do you remember what he tried to do with the stain of his guilt?
Slide: “When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”” (Matthew 27:24 NIV)
If only it were that easy. Well, he could cleanse his hands, but he could never cleanse his heart from his guilt at putting to death an innocent man – unless he allowed the blood of that man to fall on Him in true forgiveness. And the same is true for all of us, whose sins caused Jesus to go to the cross to be punished for them instead of us. And so again we pray the prayer of guilty David:
Slide: “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalms 51:2 NIV)
And that is exactly what God is ready and willing to do in His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Hear again those beautiful words that we often repeat in worship:
Slide: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ESV)
Folks, that’s what we’re about in the Lenten season and with this series. Lent is not about what we do or don’t do for God. It’s about what God has done for us through Jesus. Through faith in Him we do receive mercy, in Him all our wrongs are washed away, in Him we are cleansed from every stain and we receive a clean heart.
Well there’s a lot more to say, but there will be other sermons in the series in which to say it, so we’ll cut it off here. I would say, we’re giving you another charm for this series. I hope it can help remind you of the honest prayer that you are praying to God in Psalm 51, but I hope you can also wear it or put it on your keychain and use it to witness to what we’re doing here and to the forgiveness and grace that is also available to your friends, neighbors, relatives, and coworkers when they pray “Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”