Devastating Restoration Part Two
July 31, 2022 Speaker: Allen Snapp Series: Summer in the Psalms
Topic: Disappointment Passage: Psalm 51,
Summer in the Psalms ‘22
Grace Community Church
July 31, 2022
Devastating Restoration Part Two
This morning is part two of the message Devastating Restoration. When we think of devastation, we think of things like destruction, damage, pain but the word devastating can also mean extremely powerful and effective and that’s what God’s restoration is: extremely powerful and effective. When God restores He restores fully.
Last week we looked at the crater of destruction and devastation that David stood on as he wrote this psalm. David committed adultery, then tried to cover it up with deception and when that didn’t work, he had Bathsheba’s husband murdered and took Bathsheba as his wife.
God sent a prophet named Nathan to David to confront him over this sin. Nathan told David in no uncertain terms that what he had done was evil in God’s eyes. He then goes on to prophecy that because David did this, calamity would fall upon his life and family. The sword would never depart from his house, meaning the violence he sowed in Uriah’s life he would reap in his own family. Furthermore Nathan tells him that because he took another man’s wife in secret, one close to him (it would turn out to be his own son Absalom) would sleep with his own wives in broad daylight.
David had full authority to silence Nathan either by imprisoning him or by killing him but David does something people in power seldom do when confronted with their sin: he repents. No excuses, no blameshifting. David simply says, I have sinned against the Lord.
Then he sat down and wrote Psalm 51. The inscription reads, For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
Let’s read Psalm 51 together slowly and prayerfully, because it is a prayer of repentance.
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.13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.15 Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.18 May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem.19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Have you ever wondered what the difference between King Saul and King David was? Both kings messed up – we might say that David’s sin was even greater than Saul’s sin. Yet God said to Saul, “I’m taking the throne away from your family forever.“ And God said to David, “the throne will never depart from your family forever.” God rejected Saul, yet said of David he was a man after God’s heart.
Why does God treat them so differently? Why does God hold Saul’s sin against him and give David a clean slate? One word: repentance. David repented of his sin. Saul made excuses for his sin.
Repentance is a powerful thing and an essential component to the gospel. The modern church tends to emphasize faith – which is right to do – but tends to neglect repentance. However from the beginning repentance was an essential part of believing in Christ. When Peter preached his first message to thousands in Acts 2, he closes his message by urging the crowd to “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.
Repentance means to have a change of mind. It means doing a 180. Believing in Jesus Christ means turning from sin and turning towards God. We still struggle with sin, but it isn’t our master anymore, Jesus is. Sin still tempts us, but we don’t find our life in sin, we find our life in Jesus.
Repentance isn’t just turning from sin; it’s turning towards God with faith. It’s not just confessing our sin; it’s asking for restoration. It’s not just telling God our heart isn’t right, it’s asking God to make it right. David demonstrates this confession and faith beautifully in Psalm 51.
- David acknowledges his sin is great but believes God’s cleansing power is greater
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.
David is deeply aware of his own sinfulness. The devastation and craters around him prove that. But David is even more deeply aware of God’s mercy and love and compassion and he is confident that as great as his sin is, God’s ability to cleanse is greater.
At the age of 82 John Newton, the slave ship captain who came to faith in Christ during a terrible storm, and the author of the hymn Amazing Grace, said these words: "My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner — and that Christ is a great Savior!"
Sometimes we can get stuck on the first part of that – I am a great sinner. But we must not forget that Christ is a great Savior. David asks for more than forgiveness (as great as forgiveness is). He asks for cleansing.
- Blot out my transgressions (vs. 1)
- Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin (vs. 2)
- Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow (vs. 7)
Hyssop was used in the Old Testament for ceremonial cleansing. In Exodus, the Israelites were commanded by God to take hyssop and sprinkle it in the blood of the lamb and sprinkle it on the doorposts of their home so that the angel of death might Passover them and spare their firstborn.
Christian, if you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ, you are more than forgiven, you are cleansed. Sometimes I have heard Christians say, “I know I’m forgiven, but I still feel dirty. I still feel stained by my sin.” God has done more than forgive you, He has cleansed you. The blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, has been sprinkled on your heart and you are clean before the Lord.
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Heb. 10:19-23
- David is honest about his misery but asks God to restore his joy
David was once a joyful man. He lived life at full tilt. At one point as a new king he danced before the Lord so energetically that his own wife disdained and mocked him for it but it didn’t matter. All that mattered was what God thought of him, and that brought him joy!.
Now David has everything he wanted: Uriah is dead, Bathsheba is his wife and she is pregnant with his child. He got away with his sin and he got what he wanted. And he is absolutely miserable. That’s what sin does: it promises us everything we want, and it delivers misery. (Pleasure for a short time, then misery).
David couldn’t escape what he had done. Every minute of every day he felt guilty and condemned. He could feel the fearful gaze of a holy God on his sin and it haunted him constantly:
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.
The weight of God’s hand pressing down on David was so powerful it felt like his bones were being crushed by the weight of it. He had no joy. He felt no gladness of heart.
We can never sin our way to happiness. Sin brings pleasure, it is sweet for a short while, but in the end it brings misery. Sin tries to get us focused on the immediate satisfaction it can bring and distract us from the long-term consequences. Sin is like a cancer, it eats away at our soul and our joy. The more we get what we want the more miserable and joyless we become. Sin deteriorates our relationships, especially our relationship with God.
Repentance helps get us right with God and in His presence is joy forevermore.
It's a relief for David when Nathan finally confronts him with his sin and he can finally get his guilt and shame off his chest: I have sinned against the Lord. What he’s hidden in the dark for months and months is now in the light. It hurts, it’s embarrassing, it’s painful, but it’s good. It’s a relief!
As David confesses his sin he feels a weight lift from his conscience. He says to God, Lord, I’ve missed you! I’ve missed the joy and sweetness of your presence in my life! Come near me again! Don’t cast me away. Do a miracle in me and take this dirty heart and make it clean again, make it pure again. Make it joyful again!
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.
Devastating restoration includes a restoring of the joy of our salvation. Think about it – we are saved forever. The kingdom of Christ is ours and we will live forever with the Lord. In the Lord’s presence there is joy forevermore.
Jesus wants us to enjoy that joy now, but sin empties our hearts of joy and gladness. When we stop hiding, stop harboring, stop indulging that sin and truly repent of it, we can begin to feel the joy of the Lord again. Pleasure is a poor substitute for joy!
David prays, give me that joy back Lord. We can pray the same!
- David recognizes his sin has caused others to mock his God, but asks God to use him to help others turn back to God
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.15 Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
David prays, take this terrible chapter of my life and use it for good. Let me help others find their way back to you.
Devastating restoration isn’t just God doing a restorative work in us. It’s also God doing a restorative work through us. It’s not just us turning back to God, it’s God using us to turn others back to God too.
It’s our being able to say, “I’ve been where you are, there’s hope for you. Here’s how God helped me.”
- David repents of religious phoniness and offers God his sincerely broken heart
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.18 May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem.19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
In David’s day, the way you got right with God was to offer a sacrifice. God had commanded His people to offer sacrifices as a way of cleansing them of sin. Of course these sacrifices were a foreshadowing of the once and for all sacrifice of His Son Jesus. But what happened over time was people began to offer those sacrifices with no heart-felt worship or love for God. It became just a religious ritual done without heart or sincerity. Activity for God replaced loving devotion to God.
We can do the same thing today. We can try to compensate for hidden sin by doing more things for God, in the service of God, rather than repenting and turning from those sins. Just as those sacrifices offered insincerely were despised by God, so too our services for God, when offered in place of a repentant and humble heart, are despised by God.
When we have sinned against God and devastated lives around us, repentance is the road to restoration. Repentance is getting honest with God. It’s turning away from the hardening effect that sin has on our hearts and turning towards a soft heart. A broken heart. A broken and contrite heart God will not despise.
Create in me a clean heart O God. God can do it. God wants to do it. If the Lord is convicting you that your heart has gotten hard over time, repent of that! Don’t harden your heart this morning, soften your heart and let God do a work on your heart.
As we sing the song Create in Me a Clean Heart, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to search us. Shine the light on our hearts. And as He does, let’s respond with a soft, honest, heart.
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