Psalm 51:1-12 - “When the Preacher stabbed the King”
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
How many of you have ever seen the game show, “Let’s Make A Deal!”
I loved that show when I was a kid… and often thought how funny it was to watch grown people trade a sure thing (like cash) for something that may or MAY NOT be MORE valuable hidden behind a curtain.
The host, Monty Hall, would offer a contestant - say - a couple hundred bucks
they could trade that money for a mysterious unseen prize.
It MIGHT be a SPORTS CAR!
OR it might be
a ZONK car!!!
More often than not, it was a ZONK!
It’s human nature, I suppose, to take certain risks - trading a sure thing for what MIGHT be.
As funny as it might be to watch people make fools of themselves on a gameshow…
- caught up in the excitement of the moment
- under the pressure of the lights, cameras, and screaming audience, when can understand their stupid decisions
It isn’t so funny when it comes to real life.
It isn’t funny to watch people throw everything of importance away in pursuit of some mysterious “prize” behind a curtain... which winds up not being a prize at all.
As the Father of Lies, Satan is called “the Deceiver” for good reason. He will entice you to trade everything of value - for something worthless.
As a child of God who knows what it is to struggle with sin, I am of all men most thankful for the sacrifice of Christ… thankful that God forgives and restores… that my failures don’t have to define me. But friend, don’t believe for one minute that there won’t be consequences for your choices.
The devil convinces us that we can keep it hidden… that our situation will be different. When nothing bad happens right away, we interpret God’s patience as permissiveness, and we hold onto things that are offensive to God.
Solomon said as much in Ecclesiastes 8:11, “because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” In other words - when we don’t suffer the consequences for our sins right away, we think we have gotten away with it. But don’t be fooled. SIN always has a price! Always.
It had been nearly a year since David had committed the sins of adultery and murder. For that year I am sure he thought he had kept things hidden pretty well – that somehow God had let THIS ONE slide. But IN walks the preacher - his trusted friend and advisor – Nathan. The preacher had not come for fellowship this time – but for confrontation – he had come to expose what David thought was hidden. He had come to show David that not even a king can get away with sin.
Aren't you glad there are people in your life who care enough to speak TRUTH to you? Nathan was that man for David.
With his sin exposed and the conviction of God breaking his sin-calloused heart, David came clean with God. Psalm 51 IS the record of that event.
There are several great lessons in this psalm. How none of us are above sin… all of us can, in a moment of weakness, invite havoc and destruction upon those we love… and though God is a gracious God, He will not change the rules for us.
This psalm is a warning: Sin always has it’s cost. David learned that The temporal satisfaction you experience in sin will NOT offset the High Cost of rebelling against God.
As we read this Psalm we notice...
1. First, David’s Confession in vv. 1-6.
When David was confronted with the truth, he did what EVERY believer should do – he confessed his sin to God. He didn’t get defensive… He didn’t attack the messenger. He didn’t even try to deflect by drawing attention to others or to justify his wrong choices. He - came - clean.
Why is that so important? Because I cannot fellowship with God OR enjoy His blessings - His best for my life - while living in sin. John wrote, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
In that moment of humbling, David realized 2 very important truths:
First - his sin had offended God.
We know from our own experience that sin harms our relationships. Sin can separate the best of friends, children from parents, even husbands and wives. Though we tell ourselves that our decision only affects us, sin ALWAYS affects others – those we love, those who have no choice in the matter, the INNOCENT, are always pulled into the soup with us.
But as much as sin wounds the most intimate of human relations, we’ve got to understand first and foremost, our sin hurts God. David said, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.”
There was no one else to blame. David was guilty. There was no excuse or justification to be made… no one forced him to yield to temptation. It was his own fault.
But not only does he acknowledge his crime against God…
Second, He repents. You see, it’s not enough to have regret… you gotta repent! To “repent” means “to turn away from your sin.” Forgiveness is available when we do. As 1 John 1:9 explains – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
We cannot fix this thing ourselves. It’s not going to go away if we pretend as though it never happened. No, we have offended God and we need to seek His forgiveness.
David confessed that he had chosen sin over God’s will for His life.
Have YOU reached this place in YOUR life? Have you faced up to your guilt before God – or are you still comparing yourself with others, blaming people, justifying, excusing? There is only ONE WAY to make it right, my friend, you must confess it to Him!
2. After his confession, we see his Consequences in vv. 7-12.
It would be hard to find a more comprehensive list of the consequences of sin than we find right here. David lists 6 different consequences of his sin:
First, we see the defilement sin brings in verse 7. From the time that he had given into the flesh and committed those horrendous acts, David knew he was unclean before God. Though he had continued to sit on the throne for the better part of a year, he knew he needed cleansing – the kind of cleansing God shares through the pen of Isaiah, when he said…
“Come now and let us reason together saith the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
When you became a Christian, your relationship with God changed, and so did your relationship to sin. The Holy Spirit of God now takes up residence in you, therefore you can no longer participate in sin without feeling guilt… without bringing dishonor upon Christ. Conviction is God’s gentle way of disturbing your soul, prompting you to change course before you head any further down the path of destruction.
David felt defiled before God – and you will too, whenever you do those things that are wrong.
Secondly, we see the deafness sin brings in verse 8, when he said, “Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.” Interesting, isn’t it, how sin affects our worship. Whenever sin is allowed to grow in the heart, it will make us deaf to the voice of God. Sin will cause the very things that once brought us JOY, like worship and serving God and gathering with other believers, to become burdensome and unfulfilling.
How many times have we heard people say, “I just don’t get anything out of that class” or “I just don’t like church anymore…” Sin does that to us. It doesn’t matter WHO is teaching, singing, or preaching. It’s not the preacher’s problem. It’s a heart problem. We become DEAF to the voice of God when we choose sin over fellowship with God.
David longed to hear the Holy Spirit again, but sin had caused SEPARATION – as David said in Psalm 66 verse 18, and said, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”
Third we see the disgrace sin brings in verse 9, “Hide your face from my sins…” Why does he say that??? Because sin brings shame. How often we have seen it – someone is caught for a crime they have committed and are taken into custody. A reporter shoves a camera into their face and they put up their hands to hide or put a hood over their faces. Disgraced!! That’s how David felt.
Fourth, he mentions the Damage sin brings in verse 10 – “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” David wanted a new heart. He didn’t want God to simply put the pieces of his old life back together, no, sin had marred the old heart. He wanted a new one.
He hadn’t yet realized the full impact of his sin. He hadn’t yet understood the awful thing he had set into motion that he could not take back or undo. The rest of his life David would bear the scars of this scandal – scars that would never, fully heal. Such is the damage sin brings.
Fifth, he refers to the Doom sin brings in verse 11, “Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” David had seen what sin had done to his predecessor, King Saul. He didn’t want his life to end like that. He didn’t want to lose God’s anointing. He knew his position had been compromised, and he didn’t want God to set him aside… he didn’t want his failure to ultimately define his legacy.
And finally he speaks of the Depression sin brings, when he said, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” His joy was gone. That relationship that was outside of God’s will had not brought him the fulfillment he thought it would. David found out that often the first thing we lose when we sin… is joy.
THESE are the consequences of sin… and David was not the exception. Neither are you!
But David didn’t want to stay there. He wanted God to free him, to lift him above sin’s carnage. Which leads us to our final point...
3. After the confession of his sin and the consequences of his sin, we see
the Cleansing of his sin. We really can’t get the whole picture of what happened to David by only reading psalm 51. We have to go back to the events recorded in 2 Samuel 12, where it reads, David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.”
Nathan also told David in v. 10 that the sword would never depart from his house. For the rest of his life, he would suffer the consequences of his sin.
Yes, God forgave David. He no longer held his crimes against him. Praise God for that. Because you see, like David, I have done many things that have brought shame and disappointment. Like David, I too have had to come clean with the Lord. I am thankful that God no longer holds those sins over my head… he forgives, renews, and restores. I am thankful, that what He did for David, He has also done for me.
BUT I must remember - forgiveness does not save me from the consequences of my sin in THIS life. While forgiven, I still have to face the brokenness that my actions have caused.
David lost his baby to death, he lost another son to rebellion, one of his daughters was raped… he lost his throne and had to live on the run… all because one afternoon he went out on his balcony and saw a woman… lust filled his heart… and he set into motion a time-bomb that would destroy his family for decades.
Sin doesn’t have fair advertising practices. It lies. It says, “OH, there’s plenty of time to fix this.” “No one will ever know.” “You deserve this.” “God is too loving to punish you.” “You are the exception.” Not realizing it’s all a lie, you set into motion things you cannot take back or undo.
Some of us are dealing with those consequences right now. You’ve lost your joy and peace – you don’t desire the things of God like you once did. People in your life who once respected you have lost confidence in you.
It’s time you came clean with God, don’t you think? No more excuses… no more blaming others for your misfortunes. It’s time we searched our hearts, confessed our sins, and devoted ourselves to God.
If you need to do business with the Lord, this time is for you. Let’s stand...