Summer in the Psalms '22 - Devastating Restoration Part One
July 24, 2022 Speaker: Allen Snapp Series: Summer in the Psalms
Topic: Restoration Passage: Psalm 51
Summer in the Psalms
Grace Community Church
July 24, 2022
Devastating Restoration Part One
Let’s turn together to Psalm 51. Years ago when I was a young husband and new in ministry I remember hearing author and teacher James Dobson say that he wanted to get to the end of his life without stepping on a scandal landmine that would blow up and destroy his family, his ministry, and his reputation. I remember thinking, I want that too. I still do.
Few things are as devastating as standing in a crater of your own making. Seeing people you love devastated by your own sinful choices and knowing there’s nothing you can do to undo the damage.
That is exactly where David is standing as he writes Psalm 51. We see it in the inscription that says, For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
Psalm 51 is a deeply heart-felt prayer to God. David’s sinful actions, which we will look at this morning, has resulted in devastation. Psalm 51 is a cry for restoration. Let’s read the first 12 verses.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:1-12
I’ve titled this message Devastating Restoration. When we think of devastation, we think of destruction, damage, pain. But devastating can also mean extremely powerful and effective. Sin devastates. We see sin’s destructive force all around us. On any given Sunday I could find several headlines in the news to illustrate the devastating power of sin. Sometimes sin devastates in one sudden explosion. That’s David’s story. More often, sin devastates slowly, gradually, over time in little by little erosion. No one thing is big enough to create a crater, but years of angry words has left a marriage in tatters. Years of controlling behavior has alienated those closest to us. Years of indulging in porn has eaten away at a spouse’s trust. Years of deception has rotted away at our integrity. Years of pride has left us puffed up and hollowed out. Sin devastates.
God restores. The gospel is all about restoration: restoring sinful, lost mankind to a holy and loving God. Jesus came to give us devastating restoration – restoration that is extremely powerful and effective. No matter what sins you’ve committed, no matter what damage you’ve done, no matter how you’ve disobeyed and offended God, Jesus offers you devastating restoration. And yes, that restoration comes through faith in Jesus and his work on Calvary, but there’s something else that must accompany that faith, something we don’t hear about nearly enough these days, but it’s an essential part of true faith: repentance. Repentance gets us on the road to devastating restoration. And David gives us the road map in Psalm 51.
But first, let’s consider the events that inspired Psalm 51; events that begin in 2 Sam. 11.
11 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.” 2 Sam. 11:1-5 (NIV)
Verse one tells us it was springtime. The weather is warming, and for David everything is looking up. Over the nearly 20 years he has reigned he has brought wealth and power and territorial expansion to Israel. The word that best describes his reign is success. Everything he touches turns to gold. Every decision he makes is the right one. Every battle he fights, he wins. Success, success, success. That has built a deep sense of trust and admiration and loyalty among his people. So when the season when kings go to war came, no one questions it when David decides to sit this one out and delegate his troops to Joab. He’s earned it.
Ironically our greatest failures often come from our greatest successes. The time when we are most vulnerable to sin isn’t when things are going bad, it’s when things are going good. We think we have life by the tail and we let down our guard. We make a string of good decisions and we get over-confident in our decision-making. Success makes us start to think we’re the smartest person in the room and we stop listening to people who disagree with us or has a different perspective than we do.
Hard times might be hard on us but good times can be even harder on us.
David is insulated from criticism by his many successes. So instead of going to battle he stays home. After a while he gets bored, gets restless, and starts to walk around on the roof of his palace and as he does he sees a beautiful woman bathing on the roof.
Let’s pause to make another observation. It’s not good for us to have too much time on our hands. I am a
believer in time off, and unbending the bow with relaxing and enjoyable recreation, but there’s a reason God gave us six days to work and one day to rest rather than one day to work and six days to relax. Working hard and being productive is healthy for our souls. We can get into trouble when we have too much down-time.
David has too much time on his hands and as he wanders around he sees a beautiful woman and sends a servant to find out who she is. The servant says, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” This servant wasn’t born yesterday, he knows what’s going on in David’s mind. So he makes sure to stress she is Eliam’s daughter and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.
That should have been the end of the matter. Up to this point David hasn’t crossed a line he can’t uncross, but David sends for Bathsheba and the line is crossed. Later she sends word to David, “I am pregnant.”
At this point David could have confessed his sin to his advisors and to Uriah, as painful as that would have been. God wouldn’t have taken away all the consequences of his sin, but God would have dealt with David differently and he could have avoided a lot of the devastation that was to come.
Instead David tries to cover up his sin. They say the cover up is worse than the original moral lapse. One cover up leads to another and another. We start spinning lies and inevitably we get ensnared in Satan’s web of deceit and destruction.
First David has Uriah come home for a few days, hoping he will spend the night with his wife, but Uriah says his fellow-soldiers are out in the fields, how can he go home to the comforts of his wife and bed? So David sends him back to the battlefield with a note for Joab: put Uriah in the front line where the battle is the hottest, then pull back and abandon Uriah so that he is struck down and dies.
Imagine Joab’s reaction when he reads this note. Joab is a really good soldier but he’s not a good man, and he enters into this conspiracy, knowing he now has something on David that he can leverage to maintain his position and power in the kingdom. Uriah is struck down and some other soldiers die as collateral damage in this cover-up.
Psalm 51 is written as David stands at the edge of this massive crater his sin has created. He never intended this to happen, he was just bored and strolling around on his roof. Sin often lures us in with little steps that lead to bigger steps. Lust leads to adultery, adultery leads to cover up, cover-up leads to conspiracy, conspiracy leads to murder.
The title of this message is Devastating Restoration but it needs to be said, we should do everything we can to avoid stepping on these landmines in the first place. Do you have a rooftop where you are tempted to do or see something God doesn’t intend for you to do or see? Flirting with that person at the office. Going to inappropriate sites on the internet. For others of us, our rooftop might be the slow erosion of having to be right or manipulating people to do what we want, or cutting people down in anger. These craters may happen more slowly but they’re every bit as devastating in the end.
David’s integrity is devastated. His reputation is devastated. Bathsheba’s marriage vows to Uriah are devastated, and then her heart is devastated as she hears that Uriah is dead. Uriah’s parents and friends are devastated, as are the families of the other soldiers who died needlessly just to cover up David’s sin.
Worst of all, David, a man after God’s own heart, finds his relationship with God devastated. David got what he wanted but as we see in Psalm 51, he’s not happy. His bones are crushed. His joy is gone. His spirit isn’t right. He’s a tormented man.
God sends David a gift in the form of a man who will tell David the truth.
12 The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3 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.
4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own 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.”
5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!
You’re the man David. You did this! You had so much, but you took Uriah’s one wife and then killed him by the Ammonite’s sword as surely as if you held the sword yourself. Therefore the sword will not depart from your house. There will be a generational violence that infects your heritage from this point forward David. What you did is evil in the eyes of the Lord.
Nathan pulls no punches but David does something that very few people – especially people with power – do. Verse 13: Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
He repents. No excuses. No blame-shifting. No shooting the messenger. David repents. The road from devastation to devastating restoration begins with repentance. Psalm 51 is written from the edge of a crater, but David knows God can restore what he has destroyed. God can redeem our craters and turn them into something redemptively beautiful. He doesn’t take away the consequences. He doesn’t remove all the pain. But he is able to turn our devastation into devastating restoration.
If you’re on the roof, get off! Don’t linger or lounge there, go where God’s called you to be and get busy with what God has called you to do. Better to avoid the pain of devastation when possible.
But for the one, you’re looking at real damage in your life, there is so much hope in Christ. God can take those ashes and give you beauty in their place. David gives us a road-map in Psalm 51. We get to restoration through repentance.
Do you have a Nathan in your life? Are there people you trust and allow to say anything to you even if it’s brutally honestly painful? Is your heart postured to hear without excuses, without blame-shifting, without shooting the messenger?
Sin makes us want to cover up our sin. We feel threatened by anything that might uncover who we really are. Repentance is trusting God with our honesty. Lord, who I am is in Your hands, not mine. Lord, when you expose my sin it’s not to destroy who I am but to restore who I am.
Maybe there’s a relationship in your life right now that God is trying to speak to you through. I know for years I had my arms folded and was like, “if you have something to say, say it. I’m listening.” May God help us lower our arms and our defenses and invite the Lord and trusted friends to speak to us words we need to hear, even if we don’t want to hear them.
That’s the posture of repentance and repentance is the road to devastating restoration.
More in Summer in the Psalms
September 4, 2022A Faith Worth Fighting For - Part Five
August 28, 2022A Faith Worth Fighting For – Part Four
August 21, 2022A Faith Worth Fighting For – Part Three