God Versus a Mud Puddle

August 1, 2012 at 9:26 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 4 Comments
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In the great prayer of repentance found in Psalm 51, David is very concerned with God purging him from his sins and making him clean on the inside.

Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

Psalm 51:2

Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

Psalm 51:6

David has much to say about washing in this Psalm. We think of washing as an external procedure, but David realizes that God sees what others can not see: the condition of the heart.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10

However, it is also clear that David, once he has been cleansed inwardly, expects that there will naturally be some outward visible signs of this renewed and restored relationship with God.

Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

Psalm 51:11-15

Sometimes, when I am teaching in church, I apologize for being late, and I explain that the reason I am a little tardy is that, a few minutes ago, when I stepped out of my car, I fell into a mud puddle. As I tried to get up, I slipped again, and wound up rolling around for awhile before I regained my footing and escaped. As I say this, I stand there before the class, looking clean and neat (at least for me). As the students look at me suspiciously, I admit that there are two possibilities: either I have gone insane or I am lying. The point is that an encounter with a mud puddle is going to make a visible difference in my appearance.
But what are we to make of a person who claims to have had a life-changing encounter with the Thrice-Holy God of the Universe, yet remains basically unchanged in behavior and attitude? Who is more powerful: the Lord of Glory or a muddy puddle of water? We need to make sure that the witness of our lips matches the witness of our lives.

The Lord’s Laundry

July 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Posted in Selected Psalms | 4 Comments
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Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

Psalm 51:9 (emphasis added)

When David pleaded for a “blotting out” he was asking the Lord for a miracle, because the Old Testament Law did not provide a sacrifice for the types of deliberate sins of which David was guilty. David appealed to God’s mercy and grace.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:7 (emphasis added)

Under the Old Covenant, ceremonial cleansing would make a sinner safe for society and give others protection from the sinner’s defilement. “Wash me,” David prayed. I am the one in my household who does the laundry, so I know a couple of things about washing clothes. In fact, all that is required of the other members of my family is that they bring their dirty clothes to the hamper or the laundry room. There are certain kinds of stains that are tough to remove from garments – even for today’s high-tech washing machines. They require hot water, harsh detergent, and an agitation cycle. When we seek to be cleansed from our iniquities before the face of God, we need to be willing to submit to His chastening. For Christians, God is more than willing to wash our clothes, but we’ve got to be willing to bring them to laundry room.

David’s sins were against his family, his people, Bathsheba, and Uriah, but he also recognized that all sin is ultimately against God.

Against 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.

Psalm 51:4

The Holy Spirit used the poetry of Psalm 51 to inspire the revelation of the Gospel through the Apostle Paul.

God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

Romans 3:4

When God truly cleanses, He also restores.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

51:10

A renewed heart must be created. It must come from God Himself. A tainted heart would continue to pump out iniquity, re-contaminating the whole body. David wanted to be cleansed and he wanted to be restored – so he could be used. He wanted to be an effective witness.

Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Psalm 51:13

David also wanted to be an effective worshiper.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

Psalm 51:14-15

He wanted to be an effective builder.

Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

Psalm 51:18-19

Those who have been broken and rebuilt by God can be used very effectively by God to help rebuild others.


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