October 12 - Psalm 51

Sunday, October 12, 2008

October 12 - Psalm 51:1-19

You know the story of David and Bathsheba, right? If you want to re-read it, turn to 2 Samuel 11:1-26. The very last verse of this chapter is heartbreaking. "But the thing David had done displeased the Lord."

That sickens me. The thought of doing something that would displease the Lord enough to have Him send a prophet to me is appalling! Nathan is sent to David in 2 Samuel 12:1-26. This is the only man with the courage to confront the King on his bad behavior. I suspect that only because the Lord sent him, did he have that courage.

I think it's wonderful that we have David's response in Psalm 51 to this crisis in his life.

Psalm 51:1-6 is David's confession of guilt. Even though he sinned against Uriah and Bathsheba, all sin is a violation of God's law.

Psalm 51:7 asks that God cleanse him with hyssop. The leaves from this bush were used in ceremonial cleansing in Leviticus 14:4, 6, 49 and 51 and also in the sacrifice of the red heifer in Numbers 19:6, 18. Hyssop was also to be gathered during the Passover to dip in the blood of the lamb and put on the doors (Exodus 12:22).

He proceeds with the pleas of forgiveness in Psalm 51:8-12. One of the beatiful things about Psalm 51:11 is that this verse remembers God's covenant with David found in 2 Samuel 7:14-15. Nathan was also the prophet that delivered this word from the Lord to David. God had promised that He would never remove His love from David, even if he had to punish him.

Psalm 51:13-17 finish out the personal conversation with God. David will encourage others after learning this lesson, he pleads that the blood guilt of Uriah's death be removed. Psalm 51:15 cries out that the guilt be removed so that he can speak words of praise again. David knows that a common sacrifice will never be enough to cleanse him of this sin, but that he needs to come before God with all humility. The heart and the spirit of a contrite man are much more important to God than a sacrificed animal.

As he finishes the Psalm, David realizes that his actions could affect the nation of Israel. He prays that God will not allow David's sin to affect them. 'Build up your city, O God.' How do our actions affect our families and our immediate communities?

The sacrifices in Psalm 51:19 are not a sin offering, but refer to commitment to God and community with him.

Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me. These are the sacrifices that God wants us to bring before Him.