May 29, 2005

A Broken and a Contrite Heart

These, O God, You will not Despise!

Psalm 51

Sermon Notes



David, at a time many kings made war (not always wisely), was at home, glorious days behind him, and he saw with the eyes of lust. He planned with the mind of lust and he exposed a man to deliberate danger with the head of criminality, then married his wife. More than this, he deliberately planned to cover up his adultery.

Met after this intense but very brief wickedness, by the prophet Nathan, David was told a parable about the rich man of many animals, who insisted on grabbing the little lamb for some feast, the pet being all the poor man had. That man shall die! declared David when told of this event. YOU are the man! said the prophet. This you find in II Samuel 11-12, among the saddest in the Bible. Had not David replaced Saul, in his wickedness, ambition and waywardness ? Had not Eli's sons been replaced by Samuel, when the old priest died, because of their wickedness ? Now was David, anointed,  to engage in his own visit to some alien life ? In that setting, not at all. He was plagued in his family in multiple ways, including the revolt by his own best loved son, Absalom, one put down, with what David most feared, the death of the rebel.

David's response to this is among the most tender of heart-broken cries:

"O my son, Absalom - my son, Absalom -
 if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!"

Here was the love which, vast in Christ, DID die for us, He taking the place of believers. Fouled but forgiven, the King suffered in this and in many more ways, in the family setting. Thus there was also a shocking rape by one of his sons of a half-sister, beguiling her with false pretences as if sick, so abusing mercy as well. Then followed the murder of that son by another - in fact by Absalom; and there was the death of Davidís child following his adultery. So readily, does sin reap its crops. When therefore you resolve to sin - and may heaven help you not to deliberately undertake any such course -  realise the perils of influencing others and the ricochet as it skims on the surface and goes on to hit someone else, as well as yourself.

Deliberate holiness is the course; and so far from being flat and boring, it is enlivening and great, because God is more exhilarating than all the companies of evil with their flat follies and buoyed up pretences; and when you love Him, there are bands more powerful than any bonds that embrace the prisoner, and they are a drawing sort of a bond, not a crushing one.  Such is love. Such is John 14:21-23.


CAN sin however, such as David committed, complex and contrived, deliberate and continued over perhaps weeks, can this be forgiven ? If there is a humble and a contrite heart, if there is repentance so that the folly is hated and cast aside, if the lesson is taken, why then of course, the soul that sins can be atoned for, and his way covered. Christ came into this world died to save sinners (I Tim. 1:15, I Tim. 2:5-6).

Wonderful as this is, it does not mean there will be no discipline (Hebrews 12:5-12), for this as a father or mother should know, is necessary IF you love your child. Foolish dreams of another world where neither goodness nor mercy nor truth nor virtue matter are best interrupted at an early day. Reality may be challenging, the path of godliness inclined upwards: but it is savoury, spiritual and most merciful.

Thus we find the words of Psalm 103 comforting; but in Psalm 51, we find the very heart of David, the man for whom such a sin was so exceptional as to form a sort of wart on his soul, or even a cancer, so that he is moved to the depths. It is a cleansed, purged and changed man who comes in acute horror at himself and his life, horrified that he has grieved God, and with passion imploring Him for pardon.




In Psalm 51, we find

A) the cry to God for mercy, blotting out, washing (1-2). The multitude of the Lord's tender mercies is greater than the sins of David, his declivities and deficiencies which are to him like the hairs of his head, though his godly walk and faith, characteristically, had him after the mould of a man after God's own heart (as in Psalm 40, a word of it below, and I Samuel 13:14):

"Withhold not Your tender mercies from me, O LORD: l
et Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me.

"For innumerable evils have compassed me about: my iniquities have taken hold on me,
so that I am not able to look up;
they are more than the hairs of my head: therefore my heart fails me.

"Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me."

David in FAITH seeks for his sins to be simply BLOTTED out (as in Colossians 2:14), so that the Lord does not impute iniquity to him (as in Psalm 32, and Romans 4:25-5:1, and 3:23ff.); for although the sacrificial pictures of the coming Messiah (as in Psalm 2, 16, 22, 40, 49) were not effective in themselves, the God who appointed them to depict the coming sacrifice to end all sacrifice (Isaiah 53,66) is always effective, and in Himself is the pardoning power and the desire for being just and the justifier of the One who believes in Him, even in the Messiah to come, now long since come, at the Danielic date foretold (as in Daniel 9:24-27).

There has always been one unchanging God and from first to the very judgment, He has one way of absolving and overcoming, ransoming and redeeming, whether as foreseen in Genesis 3:15 in the protevangelium, or in the consummation at Calvary, authenticated in the resurrection, and ever since in the words of Christ; for although more than a prophet, the very Son of the living God, He was not less, and all HIS words have come to pass, though the millenia pass, even to the slightest.

Not the least, but near the very top of all, is this word of pardon by blotting out, which He secured HIMSELF in the incarnation, fulfilling Hosea 13:14 gloriously.

B) the decisive acknowledgement of its depth and putridity (3-4).

David sees that in the last analysis, it is against the Maker and Owner of all things that he has sinned,
that sin has its origin in the law of God and its rebuttal and remedy in the love of God,
that hence it is to Him that he must bring his case.

"Against You, You only have I sinned and done this evil in Your sight..."

Thus when God shows mercy, He will be just, for it is His own hurt and sin against His own property and  love that has been committed. In justifying freely (as in Psalm 32), God is giving what it is His to give.

C) his reflection on his own nature and the desire of the God of truth and life (5-6).

Unlike the pearly pretences of many, the case is that man is a sinner from birth, not really strangling his cries in case he wakes his mother.

"Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me."

When you realise your own condition: it is only then you have

 i) vision of what you need to repent of, the sin of life without God, without His governing, guiding,
gracious presence as your own Lord and God (as Thomas at last realised Christ to be - John 20),

ii) sense that not only is your heart in need of an  entire make-over,

iii) sight of wisdom needed to be poured into the restored heart, that it might know God and His ways!


D) the purge that restores, and the cover that atones (7-9).

E) the recreated heart and its joy, relief and delight,
     and sheer thrust to give testimony of this forgiving and most merciful God (10-15)

F) prodigious religious works are vain, besides the absolute need: a broken and a contrite heart (17).    The atonement is one; but this need is yours. This is the wing, divinely granted,  that brings you to the fountain of blood,  drawn from Immanuel's veins, as the hymn has it (Acts 11:17-18). SEEK IT!

G) that it is then we can receive the gift of God   (Romans 6:23, 5:15, II Corinthians 8:9),
  then it can find it lodging place (18-19), then that the work with the people of God will be blessed.



WHEN one has seen these things and experienced them in one's own spirit, it is then that the Sermon on the Mount, for example in the beatitudes, can the more be appreciated.

No longer does it seem 'for others', a mark of amazing spirituality, but the very ground under your feet.

As Christ declared it, unless you are born again, you cannot so much as SEE the kingdom of heaven, far less enter it; for how would you board a bus when it was invisible to you, and you could not even see the road!