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Renewing the Relationship-Psalm 51

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Renewing Our Relationship: Psalm 51


You Just Get it!

True story. Two pastors were on their way to Alanta, Ga. for a large Christian mens gathering. One of them had never been in the south before. After staying in a motel overnight, they stopped at a nearby restaurant for breakfast. When their meal was delivered, the pastor who had never been south before saw this white, mushy looking stuff on his plate. When the waitress came by again he asked her what it was. "Grits", she replied. "Ma'm I didn't order it and I'm not paying for it". "Sir, down here you don't order it and you don't pay for it, you just get it." How like the grace of God!


John Newton said that when we get to heaven, there will be three wonders:

(1) who is there
(2) who is not there, and
(3) the fact that I’m there!

-David had sinned.  He had given into temptation, committed adultery with Bathsheba, gotten her pregnant, tried to manipulate Uriah, involved others in a sinful plot, murdered Uriah, and took Bathsheba as his wife without any remorse.

-But in 2 Samuel 12 David is confronted by Nathan about his sin and the displeasure of God.  David in verse 13 declares his hearts cry, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

-Psalm 51 is a poem of David’s thoughts and feelings concerning his sinfulness.  He begins by appealing to God for Mercy, then admits his sin, he asks for forgiveness, and finally acquires God’s restoration.

-God wants to do the same for each of us, we are all sinners and need his mercy.  Please open your Bibles to Psalm 51 as we take a closer at what it means to receive God’s forgiveness.


1.                  Appeal for Mercy (vs. 1-2)


51:1 Have mercy on me, O God, because of your loyal love! Because of your great compassion, wipe away my rebellious acts! 51:2 Wash away my wrongdoing! Cleanse me of my sin!

a.                  Asking for mercy that cleanses from sin appeals to God’s love and faithfulness. (1a)

-God’s mercy is based on his love.  But it is more than just ordinary love, rather it is love that does not fail.  It is not human love it is divine, completely faithful.

b.                  God’s love is guided by his compassion.(1b-2)

-God’s compassion is our assurance that he is always willing to forgive us when we do wrong.  His compassion is unfailing, it will not disappoint.

c.                   David approaches God with Humility.(2) KEY

-An appeal for mercy begins by coming to God in humility, without it we remain defiant and unwilling to admit our guilt.

Many years ago, Christian professor Stuart Blackie of the University of Edinburgh was listening to his students as they presented oral readings. When one young man rose to begin his recitation, he held his book in the wrong hand. The professor thundered, “Take your book in your right hand, and be seated!” At this harsh rebuke, the student held up his right arm. He didn’t have a right hand! The other students shifted uneasily in their chairs. For a moment the professor hesitated. Then he made his way to the student, put his arm around him, and with tears streaming from his eyes, said, “I never knew about it. Please, will you forgive me?” His humble apology made a lasting impact on that young man. This story was told some time later in a large gathering of believers. At the close of the meeting a man came forward, turned to the crowd, and raised his right arm. It ended at the wrist. He said, “I was that student. Professor Blackie led me to Christ. But he never could have done it if he had not made the wrong right.”

-This same type of humility is what is required for forgiveness to take place.  It is the willingness to set aside our pride and recognize our true condition.  As Christians we are called to live humble lives, but never so much as when we stand naked before God in our sin.


2.                  Admission of Sin (vs. 3-6)


51:3 For I am aware of my rebellious acts; I am forever conscious of my sin. 51:4 Against you – you above all – I have sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. So you are just when you confront me; you are right when you condemn me. 51:5 Look, I was guilty of sin from birth, a sinner the moment my mother conceived me. 51:6 Look, you desire integrity in the inner man; you want me to possess wisdom.

a.                  There is clarity on the nature of the sin.(3)

-sin cannot be avoided, even when we bury it, it is there, always eating, always reminding, always torturing our soul

b.                  There is clarity on who he has offended.(4)

-sin in the final analysis may be against others but it truly against God.  Compared in terms of greatness, our biggest offence is against God.  Some of our sins may not effect others but they always effect God.

c.                   There is clarity on the depth of his sin.(5)

-Our sinfulness is so deep that it goes right back to our human nature created at conception.  David understands his total depravity and hopelessness without God.

d.                  David approaches God without any justification of his actions.(6)KEY

-David doesn’t make excuses or justifications for his action.  He understands the nature of his sin and how devastating it is.

The commanding officer was furious when nine GIs who had been out on passes failed to show up for morning roll call. Not until 7 p.m. did the first man straggle in. “I’m sorry, sir,” the soldier explained, “but I had a date and lost track of time, and I missed the bus back. Being determined to get in on time, I hired a cab. Halfway here, the cab broke down. I went to a farmhouse and persuaded the farmer to sell me a horse. I was riding to camp when the animal fell over dead. I walked the last ten miles, and just got here.” Though skeptical, the colonel let the young man off with a reprimand. However, after him, seven other stragglers in a row came in with the same story—had a date, missed the bus, hired a cab, bought a horse, etc. By the time the ninth man reported in, the colonel had grown weary of it. “Okay,” he growled, “now what happened to you?” “Sir, I had this date and missed the bus back, so I hired a cab .” “Wait!” the colonel screeched at him. “don’t tell me the cab broke down.” “No, sir,” replied the soldier. “The cab didn’t break down. It was just that there were so many dead horses in the road, we had trouble getting through.”

-Sin is hardly admitted when we make excuses for our sinfulness.  But we all have them, little justifications as to why what we are doing is okay.  Sometimes it is a past injustice done to us, maybe it our thinking of how things should be in a perfect world, maybe it is simply our pride.  There is no rational justification for sin.


3.                  Asking for Forgiveness (vs. 7-12)


51:7 Sprinkle me with water and I will be pure; wash me and I will be whiter than snow. 51:8 Grant me the ultimate joy of being forgiven! May the bones you crushed rejoice! 51:9 Hide your face from my sins! Wipe away all my guilt! 51:10 Create for me a pure heart, O God! Renew a resolute spirit within me! 51:11 Do not reject me! Do not take your Holy Spirit away from me! 51:12 Let me again experience the joy of your deliverance! Sustain me by giving me the desire to obey!

a.                  Desires the forgiveness only God can provide. (7-9)

-God is the only source of forgiveness-imagery of water sprinkled using a hyssop plant.

-Doing good does not make up for our sin

-joy is what is restored when forgiveness is given

b.                  Desires renewal of his relationship with God. (10-12)

-forgiveness restores a pure heart, a secure spirit, the presence of God or willingness to be aware of God, joy of salvation,

c.                   David approaches God with the main desire to restore fellowship.(12)KEY

-Although we don’t often think about it, but one of the most devastating effects of sin is broken fellowship with God.  It can be like having a life long friend turn his back on you, but much much worse.  Forgiveness renews our broken fellowship with God.

In November 1991, Jerry Jenkins wrote a bizarre true story about a man awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call. He was groggy. The girl on the other end was weeping. “Daddy,” she said, “I’m pregnant.” Though stunned beyond belief, he forgave her and prayed with her. The next day he and his wife wrote her two letters of counsel and love.  Three days later the man received another phone call. His daughter was shocked by the letters. She was not the one who had called earlier.… Apparently some other girl had dialed a wrong number. “These letters are my treasure,” the daughter later said, “real love letters written by a godly father who never imagined he would have to write them to his own daughter.” Here are a few excerpts:  Part of me seemed to die last night. Not because of what it means to me as much as what it means to you. You were free to make all kinds of choices. Now you are shut up to a few, and none of them to your liking. But God will see you—and us—through.  Though I weep inside, I can’t condemn you, because I sin too. Your transgression here is no worse than mine. It’s just different. Even if my heart did not shout out to love and defend and protect you—as it does—the New Testament tells me I can’t take forgiveness myself and withhold it from others. We think of sin as acts. But sin is a package, an attitude that expresses itself in different ways and to different degrees. But it all comes from the same sin package you inherited through us. Christ is the only difference. God forgives this sin as well as others—really forgives and cleanses. David was a man of God when he went into his experience with Bathsheba and in the grace of God he came out a man of God. And his sin included murder! Satan has no doubt tried to tell you that this affects your standing before God. It doesn’t, but it will affect your relationship till you bring the whole matter to Him. There will be a coolness, a separation, an estrangement, until you open the problem by confessing and asking forgiveness…We stand ready to do whatever we can. We’re praying much. We love you more than I can say. And respect you, too, as always. Saturday I was very downcast. I tried to sing as I worked outside, and then, increasingly, I seemed to see a calm and loving face I knew was Jesus. It was no vision—I didn’t see details—but it was a strong reminder that He is with us and waiting for us to remember this. He loves us and will help us through, especially you. It’s great to know Jesus is walking with you. While we can’t say that God causes failures, He does permit them, and I think it’s clear He uses them to build character and beauty that we’d never have without them. Remember, God’s love is in even this, maybe especially in this. We’re glad that in a measure, at least, we can help the daughter we love so much. This is a day of testing, but hold our ground we must. God will give us the victory. That’s wonderful. We’re looking forward to your being at home. Love, Dad.

-Part of God’s commitment to us is that in our need he is there.  Part of his commitment to having fellowship with us is his forgiveness.  Even when we have damaged our relationship through sin he is still willing to place everything on hold to hear your confession and restore your relationship.  He waits to offer us his fellowship.

4.                  Acquiring God’s Restoration (vs. 13-19)


51:13 Then I will teach rebels your merciful ways, and sinners will turn to you. 51:14 Rescue me from the guilt of murder, O God, the God who delivers me! Then my tongue will  shout for joy because of your deliverance. 51:15 O Lord, give me the words! Then my mouth will praise you. 51:16 Certainly you do not want a sacrifice, or else I would offer it; you do not desire a burnt sacrifice. 51:17 The sacrifices God desires are a humble spirit – O God, a humble and repentant heart you will not reject. 51:18 Because you favor Zion, do what is good for her! Fortify the walls of Jerusalem! 51:19 Then you will accept the proper sacrifices, burnt sacrifices and whole offerings; then bulls will be sacrificed on your altar.

a.                  Restoration of authority and influence.(13)

-Sin destroys are credibility and ability to serve others.  Hypocrisy is the result of sinfulness but God can restore our influence and abilities. Eg.: our Children and integrity.

b.                  Restoration of worship through a broken heart.(14-17)

-One of the greatest reasons to praise, to worship and exalt God is the fact that he saves us from our sin.  Our gratitude should abound from his willing to restore us.  This restoration only comes through our brokenness; we cannot be whole until we are broken.

c.                   Restoration of his responsibilities.(18-19)

-Our sins can influence our ability to succeed in our jobs, families and ministries.  God when he forgives our sin provides the means to regain what we have been entrusted.  He gives us families, influences, ministries and jobs that are meant for his purposes and when we sin we destroy our usefulness, but God restores us to his purposes.

d.                  David approaches God for the ability to regain his responsibilities, purpose and God given direction in life. KEY

-Sin leaves us alone in our despair, all the things that God had intended for us to do and accomplish can be damaged because of our sin.  Thankfully, forgiveness can restore our direction.  We can go from being lost to regained direction when we come with confession.


My daughter called me to her room one night.  Through her tears she asked me to forgive her for lying to me earlier that day.  Her heart was hurting, she was feeling that she had damaged our relationship and it caused her to be broken and no matter her feelings of pride or any desire to protect herself, her love for me was more important. I wrapped my arms around her and forgave her and told her that everything was alright.  I asked her if she had asked God to forgive her and she said she had.  My heart was softened by her tenderness. 

            I am the farthest thing from God, but after this incident I gained a picture of what God may feel when we approach him with our sin.  We cannot hide it, it as clear to him as anything, but he does not condemn us, he looks at us with mercy that comes from his unfailing love.  He looks at us with the eyes of the perfect Father.  When we appeal to him asking for our relationship to be renewed he comforts us, restores us, and cares for us.  His heart is tender to his children and he hears our cries of remorse, waiting to give us life.  God wants us to come to him with humility-tenderness, openness and a deep desire to have our souls wiped clean of pain.  My daughter came to me broken, it was the position that God calls us all to have when we appeal for mercy.

You and I have sinned. Maybe you have not sinned to the degree that David did.  Maybe your sins are private, hidden, maybe they are concealed in a broken past, maybe they are your thoughts or private actions.  Then again maybe your sins seem as drastic as David.  Perhaps you feel that what you have done or are in the middle of is as bad or worse than anything David did.  Possibly your sins have taken place right here in the church, or in your home, at your job or in your thoughts. 

God offers you mercy.  You can be renewed and restored and the pain can be gone, the negative effects can begin to be repaired, the broken relationships can be mended. But it cannot begin until you come to God in humility.  I appeal to you from Psalm 51,

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

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