Monday, April 20, 2009

Psalm 51

This is one of the most famous guilt psalms. The note to the psalm states that David wrote it when he was told by Nathan the prophet that God had seen that David had committed adultery with is friend's wife then killed his friend. That makes me want to smile. David didn't write this psalm when he committed adultery, and he didn't write it when he killed his friend. He wrote it when he realized God had seen his sin. Ah, humans! Guilt is an interesting thing.

There is a necessity for confession of sins in this world. Confession brings freedom, brings healing, brings power, brings joy. (If it's a really bad sin, I'd suggest confessing it to a priest who doesn't know you. . . and I wouldn't suggest confessing sins to elders or to ministers unless God has really pressed it on one. Confessing one's faults is one thing, confessing one's sins is something else."

It doesn't tell us what David said to Nathan but we hear what David tells God. In Hebrew, the word for guilt and punishment are the same thing. In Job 19:29, Lamentations 4:6, 22, 1 Samuel 28:3-5, Genesis 4:13 we see the word being used. Guilt can be its own punishment but sometimes guilt is a moral emotional consequence and punishment is the spiritual and social consequence. As Derek Prince says, "We don't break God's laws; God's laws break us. No one destroys the law of gravity but breaking the law of gravity has destroyed many." Jesus not only freed us from guilt but from guiltiness -- blood guiltiness or otherwise.

One thing I have always wondered about is this: David's comment that: "Only you have I sinned against." I'm not sure how capable David was of feeling the depth of his guilt. He says "I was conceived in iniquity" which might be an acknowledgement of man's tendency to sin or an acknowledgement of some unknown sin of his mother but it might also be David's way of shifting a bit of the blame unto genetics...thus making it not entirely his fault. And when he says "I have only sinned against you God" bothers me. True, God is the only one we can really "sin" against. But at the same time, I can imagine someone avoiding the hurt he has caused other people by not really looking at the trouble he has caused another human being. You know the kind of person I mean: "As long as I ask God to forgive me and God and I are fine, I'm okay. Who cares if I've wounded this person?" Honestly, I really don't like David. He may have been a man after God's own heart when he was appointed king but by the time he died he was pretty malicious, vindictive, vengeful. But it doesn't matter
I suppose. It is grace that saves us, not our perfection. And although David had the holy spirit, he did not live at a time when the kingdom of heaven had begun to rule. As Jesus said, "The law and the prophets were until John...Among those born of women there is none greater than John . . . but notwithstanding those in the kingdom are greater than he." So we can allow David his imperfections.
Psalm 51

1Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
4Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
5Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
9Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
11Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
13Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
15O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
16For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
18Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
19Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

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