Sermon – June 17, 2018
Psalm 51 – The Prayer of Repentance (mp3)
While we should pray for others, and especially for their great need of salvation, we cannot think that we are outside of such needs. We, too, are miserable sinners in need of saving grace! How ought we to go about asking for God’s help, when he is the one against whom we have sinned, and the judge who stands to condemn us? In Psalm 51, David writes of his experience praying for this very thing – and he provides for us a helpful model of what it means to be truly repentant for our sins.
1. Confession to God
David, confronted by Nathan about his sin, shows the depth of his sin in his confession. He pleads with God, on account of his mercy, to heal him, for he is sinful through and through. David was not regretful for being found out, and did not offer a trite apology to God. Rather, he was truly offended by his own sin, and confessed openly his sin before God.
2. Renewal by God
The clearest demonstration of his contriteness before God is David’s cry for God to remake him. He does not just desire forgiveness, but to be relieved of the grievous nature of his sin. He is truly offended by his sin, and pleads for God to heal him fully from it.
3. Praise of God
Then, David says, I will praise God. He will tell sinners of God’s ways – not just what God is like, but how he is like that; David will proclaim his ways. While David had some inkling of God’s ways, our understanding is much fuller. We know about God’s wrath, fury, anger, love, mercy, kindness, compassion, jealousy, because we know the cross of Jesus Christ. Praise God for his wonderful gift!
4. Hope in God
Finally, we also have a hope secured. David’s sin, his weakness in the flesh, could have easily destroyed the kingdom, as the sins of later kings would do. So, he prays for the building of the walls of Jerusalem; the security of the Kingdom. God has indeed given the Kingdom security in Jesus, who is both sinless and risen to never die again. Therefore, having the Kingdom secured, and new hearts provided through Christ, we can offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God!
Friends, what it means to be a person after God’s heart, like David, is not sinlessness, but true repentance. God does not despise a contrite heart, but the prideful are due for a fall. Repent before your God! His mercies are abundant in Christ!