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Selections from the Psalms: Repentance and God’s Response

From the Desk of Eric Anderson                                Psalm 51 – Repentance & God’s Response

David’s prayer of Psalm 51 is a direct result of his awful sin regarding Bathsheba and her husband Uriah. In 2 Samuel, we read that David lusted after Bathsheba, slept with her, tried to cover up his sin after she was found to be pregnant, and ultimately had Uriah killed in an attempt to complete the cover-up. When God’s prophet Nathan confronts David about his sin, we see that David begins the process of repentance, and the process of receiving the Lord’s blessing as a result. He lived out the challenge:

May we embrace God’s marvelous and gracious response to our genuine repentance.

Repentance is so much more than saying “I’m sorry.” It involves several important steps.

  1. Understanding the Nature of God (1, 4, 18) God is good, gracious, and merciful. But He is also just, perfect, and pure. Repentance means we acknowledge these attributes of God.
  2. Understanding the Nature of Sin (3, 5) We are personally accountable for our sin; and we have sinned by choice. Also, we are sinners by nature, and need a true change of heart.
  3. Understanding the Consequences of Sin (2 Sam. 12, Ps. 51:8-12) Sometimes we suffer direct consequences due to our sin, as David did when his son died. Sometimes we suffer indirect consequences of living in a fallen world, as David’s son experienced. And we are ALWAYS facing eternal separation from God when we are unrepentant regarding our rejection of God.
  4. Prayer of Confession (3-4) We cannot just feel repentant, nor can we confess our sins ONLY to one another. Prayer is the means by which we must go to God Himself, to confess our sins and trust in Him for deliverance.
  5. Prayer of Trusting God (1, 2, 7, 9, 10, 14) David calls upon God to be his savior, his deliverer, his helper, and his hope. Only God can do this work. This is so much different than just hoping for another chance.
  6. Jesus Christ Our Redeemer (Psalm 22, 2 Cor. 5:17-21) The fulfillment of the promise of a long-awaited Messiah is found in Christ alone. Last week’s message connected the lament of a suffering sinner with the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary. When we pray to trust God with our salvation, we must call on Jesus Christ to be our savior, and to accept His atoning sacrifice on our behalf.

God’s response to our repentance is so marvelous and gracious! Consider the promises David embraced:

  1. A Clean Heart and a Right Spirit (10) God doesn’t just save us, He changes us from the inside out. We have a new identity, a new purpose, new hope, and a new Spirit indwelling us. We struggle through life in the flesh, but the deepest part of who we are will live forever, praise God!
  2. In God’s Presence, and God With Us (11) – God disciplines his children in many ways, but one thing He will never do is send us away from Him! We are sealed for eternity, children welcomed to His banquet table, and we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever!
  3. Salvation, Joy, and Strength (12) – God indeed loves to restore the joy of our salvation! We must ask and pray continuously for His joy, and we do well to surround ourselves with people who are already filled with the joy of His salvation.

Psalm 51 reflects David’s heart to proclaim the goodness of God to anyone who will listen (vss. 13-15). In faithfully proclaiming God’s goodness to us, we better embrace and understand the Lord we are proclaiming. David also recognizes that repentance is its own reward (16, 17) – the humility it takes to repent is the humility that we are blessed to live in. This also places our good works and sacrifices in their proper place – as actions reflecting thankful hearts, not as actions demanding acceptance from God in place of repentance. And in David’s final words in Psalm 51 (vss. 18-19), he acknowledges that the sins of a leader can affect the whole body. The humble leader is able to pray on behalf of the people in his charge.

May each of us be drawn to genuine repentance as God leads, that we may embrace God’s gracious and marvelous response!


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