PSALMS | Soundtrack for our Souls | Summer 2021 Great Failure, Greater Mercy | Psalm 51

July 25, 2021 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: PSALMS | Soundtrack for our Souls

Topic: Old Testament Passage: Psalm 51

Christopher Rich – July 25, 2021

PSALMS | Soundtrack for our Souls | Summer 2021

Great Failure – Greater Mercy | Psalm 51 


Introduction | Sin’s Impact 

Good Morning Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we continue our series Psalms: Soundtrack for our Souls.  

Psalms are about Jesus - What has Jesus done for us? Why do we need Jesus in the first place. We talk about Jesus as our Lord, we praise Jesus as our savior but in order to understand this concept we have to know what are we being saved from and for. We were all created for a purpose to worship God and enjoy Him. But there is a separation, a tension, a conflict we experience that needs to be addressed. Our souls sing off key songs distorted from a rich harmony with the Song God is singing. This distortion is called sin and it takes many forms active disobedience, passive rejection of God direction, apathy and anger toward God. Sin separates and leaves our souls crying out for something that satisfies. Sin can leave us callous and hopeless but with God we have hope when our heart is contrite. Disposition matters. Psalm 51 the response of a heart of one who is aware of the depth and nature of their sin AND who has humbly appealed to God to do what only God can do, forgive sin and restore us to who we are meant to be. Written by David, to understand this Psalm almost more than any other, knowing what transpired to inspire its writing is necessary for our instruction. Not so we know more about David’s sin, but to understand how sin impacts us and how we heal. 


PART I | Sin Complicates |2 Samuel 11 

2 Samuel 11:1-5 | In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”


Home Front - This is the time when Kings go to battle, but where is David? Home chilling. Vacating His role to lead, guard and protect. He’s called to be King, to engage with and lead a mission of flourishing for God’s people. Instead, David is back at home in comfort and compliancy. Everyone else is battling, but David. 

He’s bored, he’s idle. He’s napping in the late afternoon. Finally get’s up from His couch and is looking for something to do. We are made for a purpose and when we ignore that we open ourselves us to greater opportunities to stray. Idleness is makes us more susceptible to temptation to act in ways that have short term pleasure but long-term pain. There is a Cycle of temptation seen here. – He Looks and notices (not sin) – But then he’s studying her, she’s very beautiful. Awareness and observation quickly turn to investigation. Sin is settling in.  Who is this women? She is the Daughter of Eliam (one of David’s Thirty seven) mighty men. (Hebrew special forces) and wife of Uriah (also special forces.) She’s part of David’s crew. You know her, she related to your guys. She’s not an anonymous figure, she’s practically family. Bottomline, she’s not yours. David already has a wife, at least two. Michal and Abigail. Could have, should have been cultivating at least one of those. She’s not either of them. You know this is now wrong and will have an impact on many. This is not ignorance or ambiguity. But everyone is gone there is no social accountability. David is isolated and alone to do what he wants. SO knowing all this… With ample opportunity to back out, to shut it down. He says “cool” go get her. David has allowed idleness of ignoring his mission and purpose to engage with investigation and pursuit of the object of his lust. Passively ignoring his role to actively defiling it.  Is she willing? We don’t know but power is for sure in play. She does a walk of shame. He thinks it’s a Fling. No harm, no foul… until the text comes from her. “I am pregnant.” His pleasure is now panic. This sin will not be forgotten, there will be tangible evidence of a human life created that will lead to this adultery being exposed. Response to the possibility of sin coming to the light is not humility, or confession, but plotting to cover it up. He was intentional to purse sin and intentional to cover it up. 2 Samuel 11:6-13 | So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab was doing and how the people were doing and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” And Uriah went out of the king's house, and there followed him a present from the king. But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. 10 When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” 11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.” 12 Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 And David invited him, and he ate in his presence and drank, so that he made him drunk. And in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.Here is the plan, call back the husband who’s been gone for a while, who is a bit homesick and he’ll meet up with his wife so when the kid is born he’ll think it’s his. Simple enough. What could go wrong? Uriah’s unwavering sense of duty. Contrast with David, Uriah seems to be a man of character and mission. David has pursued self-indulgence at the expense of others. Uriah is pursuing self-denial for the purpose of solidarity with others. David tries again, prompts him, gets him drunk at dinner hoping he’ll compromise. Uriah shows more character drunk, than David does sober. This must have made David aware of how his actions and attitudes compare to Uriah’s unfavorably. The plan to have this sin simply covered up fails and again the response is not confession, but the attempt cover up turns in to a conspiracy for murder. 2 Samuel 11:14-17 | 14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15 In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die.” 16 And as Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew there were valiant men. 17 And the men of the city came out and fought with Joab, and some of the servants of David among the people fell. Uriah the Hittite also died.The effort David is taking to ensure his sin is never found out has gotten more and more intense. We are often very intentional about our sin and even more deranged in our attempts to cover it up. Sin callous us to others. This plan is so risky it leaves no concern for the consequence others may face. Sin is selfishness, it does not care about how it impacts others. There are many who died in this ill-fated campaign. Really an unknown suicide mission. It’s not the nobility of Saving Private Ryan, its Killing Colonel Uriah.  Sin can stay hidden for a time but it will always come to the surface. Sin doesn’t stay contained. 2 Samuel 11:35 | 25 David said to the messenger, “Thus shall you say to Joab, ‘Do not let this matter displease you, for the sword devours now one and now another. Strengthen your attack against the city and overthrow it.’ And encourage him.” Joab is now an accomplice to this and may be concerned. Sin seeks to calm the natural feeling of guilt experienced from sin. Sin likes company like misery does. If there are more people in on this than it’s not my deal only anymore. For Joab,  he says “Just win baby and you’ll feel better.” 2 Samuel 11:26-27 | 26 When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. 27 And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. David’s cool. Bathsheba got over it. Even Joab has had his guilt soothed. But God was displeased. You do not want to be on the wrong side of God’s displeasure. 

PART II | Confrontation | 2 Samuel 12:1-14

2 Samuel 12:1-6 | And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Then David's anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die,and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”


God response of His displeasure over David’s action leads Him to speak to David through the prophet Nathan. This story seems pretty transparent and should lead to some conviction but our ability to be self-deceived can be high. Sin blinds us to easily seen the sin in others and not see the sin in ourselves. It makes us self-righteously cry out for justice where we see sin. We understand the weight of sin when it’s talked about in the context of others, but we are quick to call for mercy when we have sinned. 2 Samuel 12:7-14|Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’11 Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” 13 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.14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.” Secret sin will lead to public shame. David has been given all he could/should want yet has selfishly consumed. Some justice will be experienced. David will lose. There is great consequences for his sin. He will experience pain and suffering for sin. There will not be mortal consequence for David. It can seem that David’s response is somewhat insufficiently broken for the grievous nature of all that has happened. “I have sinned against the lord.” Yup… no emotion no brokenness. We are given so much more of his heart and a primer for what our soul should be singing when we are aware of our sin with Psalm 51as we cry out for salvation. 


PART III | Song of Confession | Psalm 51:1-6  

Psalm 51:1-6 | 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.


He appeas to God’s character, because he cannot begin to appeal to his own credentials. This isn’t “Save me I’m good and worthy. This is “save me because you are good.” Your love of your people is “steadfast” your love is unfailing, Lit. Loyalty. This in great contrast to our failing faithfulness. God I am appealing to you because your Abundance of mercy and compassion is greater than my mountain of sin. This call is a lament not asking “why God has this happened?” But instead “fix me for I am broken.” He is disorientated and distressed because he knows his guilt and fault. Healing can only begin when sin is acknowledged. He doesn’t say His “mistake, indiscretion, poor choice, lapse in judgment is ever before him. It’ is his sin.  You can’t be restored if you don’t think you’re broken, you cannot be forgiven if you don’t think you’ve sinned. You can’t cry out to be clean if you don’t think you’re dirty. It’s is so instructive for us because it repeats the Comprehensive nature of sin:

  • Transgression – Law - Violation of God’s Law, disobeying is commands, crossing his boundaries. 
  • Iniquity – Brokenness (bet out of shape-ness) idea is perverted from natural state. Desiring wrong. 
  • Sin – Rejection and Rebellion-  missing the mark Doing something wrong, not doing something right. 


I need to be clean, I know I am not right. I cannot see any path in life forward unless this is dealt with because “my sin is ever before me” this isn’t going away. There is a tension. Conviction. This isn’t David’s song alone, but for all of God’s people when we’ve committed sin to understand it and know what song our soul should sing. It’s not let’s remember what David did, it’s let’s see what God can do. Who has your sin impacted? Who hasn’t been blessed because you haven’t been engaging on the mission and purpose you’ve been created to by God? Who has been harmed because you’ve pursued your selfish desires over cultivating a life of selflessness? When leaders fail it has a ripple effect. David’s impact: His warriors (not leading them), his wives (not loving them), Bathsheba (leading her to sin) His servants for making them play run around. Uriah for sure. Joab for being an accomplice to murder. Any of the solider on the suicide mission who died and Nathan by lying to him an acting self-righteous. There are literally dozens of people impacted by David’s sin. And yet verse 4 doesn’t forget about them by saying “Against you, you only, have I sinned.” Each of these people are image bearers of God worth of dignity and respect. To sin against an image bearer is to sin again the God who’s image they bear. There is another layer. If in all our circumstances our greatest need is communion with God and sin separates and violates that communion, than the greatest one impacted by our sin is God. We are not our own we belong to God. Others are made by God. You can be right with everyone else but God and still not be right. This isn’t minimizing all the wrongs committed against these people It’s putting into perspective how great sinning against God is if it’s seen as “against you and you alone.” He no longer is asking “How can I get away from or with this?” but there is great grief. Restoration and reconciliation with Him is of the greatest import, but there is still individual confession and restoration sought.  Forgiven people don’t pridefully proclaim they’re forgiven to those they have sinned against but seek “as much as is up to them to live peaceably with all.” David likely had some tough conversations with Bathsheba, etc ahead. 


“How could I sin against God in this way?” The answer lies deep in our nature as fallen people. His sin was not just one-time act or accident.  He’s not a sinner because he sinned, he sinned because he is a sinner. There is right acknowledgement of the depth of our sin nature. He’s not calling out his mom or his conception as being sinful. He’s talking about the brokenness of original sin that has infected him from the beginning. However, rather than calling himself a victim of the sin disease he knows God is a God of truth and life. He knows he bears individual responsibly. He’s not ignorant of the law, it’s been taught to him. There is an acknowledgement that God is correct in how He has prescribed life to be and what we have done is against/outside of that. He has been given tools to understand and had options. I know your truth and I’ve choosen to disobey it. This confession of my brokenness is not an excuse but reveals the depth of the chasm between us in our sin and God in His perfection. There is a deficiency of character, but his sin is still his sin. 

God is just to give us justice. But we can ask for mercy. The verdict cannot be disputed but the sentence can be. He doesn’t just need what he’s done to be forgiven he needs who he is supposed to be restored. 

Psalm 51:7-12 |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. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Comprehensive sin against requires comprehensive restoration: 


Forgiven and Cleaned (v7-8a)  Purge with Hyssop is a ceremonial act performed when you’ve had leprosy or touched a dead body. The defilement of sin separates you from true community. Purge = De-sin me, like delouse me. Clean not just in the ceremonial sense but give me a righteousness as pure white as fresh snow. God be our priest that declares us clean and free from sin. The cleaning and the washing produces a renewal of Joy. We were exiled but now we’re being welcomed back with joy and gladness. God breaks to heal.


Disciplined and Healed (v8b-9) - There is discipline and brokenness for the purpose of Healing and restoration. The bones you’ve broken no longer wail against the cracking but sing for the correction. (legs broken for the purpose of long term healing.) It is a blessed brokenness. There are and will be enduring consequences for our sin in this lifetime. David suffers beyond this forgiveness and restoration, but sill asks “forget my rebellion. Fix my brokenness. Blot out our sin, remove the guilt of our sin, and remove the memory of it.”


New Creation and Renewed Presence (v10-12) - Create a new heart, not just patch the old one. But the restoration that is key is the presence of God, felt and experienced with the Holy Spirit. The Joy had is in the renewed spirit of a person in the presence of God who has been made clean by the work of God. We can only walk out a new life of repentance when we’ve been made new by God. We live with Holy Spirit endurance. WE cannot fix ourselves, only God can. We need His divine intervention to be renewed for life. 


Psalm 51:13-19 | 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; 19 then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.


We’ve been restored for a purpose. A renewed heart, with the holy spirit and communion with God will lead to recommission of mission. In the Gospel because Jesus died for your sin, because your sin has been paid for you sin has been dealt with, sin is not your final sentence. Sin is not the end of your story. Your sin is not the end of your life, it is given over to Jesus and dealt with so that you can and do have a new chapter. Sin has consequences, but so does mercy. Sin hurts, but grace heals.  


Teach and evangelize - To teach sinners, God’s ways. To share the gospel.  You care about other because you know their pain and you know what is possible with restoration with God. The result of our joy of our salvation will be sharing this salvation with others. I didn’t do this, God did. God has saved me, he can save you too. 


Sing praise and worship. Shame has shut us up when we were made to sing. Why do we sing? Because our sin has no consequences, or circumstances are better? No! The greatest concern, our guilt before God has been removed!! We were silent with shame now our mouths are opened to sing. We are free again! 

Humility and contrition – These are the prerequisites. WE don’t naturally have this, we have pride, so we need to ask for this. We need new hearts that are not callous to sin, but are broken by it. God wants our prideful rebellious hearts sacrificed for humble and contrite ones. Then, with these new hearts, we can live lives of sacrifice for God because of the joy of His salvation we have already experienced. This all happens because of Jesus. God has been just by having Jesus die in our place. Jesus is the innocent son who takes the consequence for our sin. He bears our deserved punishment for our sin so we can call out to and for forgiveness and know God can offer it to us and still be just. God doesn’t delight in our sacrifices because they are imperfect, but he does delight in His son Jesus who is a perfect sacrifice in our place.


Creates a new community of individuals who have been made new. This new community is made of people who know the severity of their sin and necessity of their salvation. Who have been cleaned (are being cleaned) made new (being made new) for the purpose of being restored to the mission and purpose they have been called to bring God glory and experience joy that can only come when we Trust Jesus.