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. Psalm 51:1-3
The difference between David and the other leaders who sinned against God is that David is genuinely heartbroken before the Lord over his sin and truly repentant.
Where other leaders tried to justify their actions or blame others, David takes ownership of his sin and begs for God’s forgiveness. He craves a restored relationship with God. David and God have been through a lot and he doesn’t want to lose that. God is always the one David looked to for provision and hope.
Psalm 51 is David’s beautiful and heartfelt prayer of confession to God. There is Godly sorrow associated with sin. It is a big deal and separates us from our Creator and Author of life. It shifts us off the path God has for us. It should break our hearts. But we all know, and have likely experienced, many various reactions to our sin. We try to deny it, excuse it, hide it, cover it, fix it. We try to move on, or just as destructive, we let it rot us from the inside out, stuck in depression and despair over our inability to make things right. But God is loving, gracious, and merciful. He doesn’t want us stuck in the sin pit. There is a way out. He wants us to come to him, confess, and decide to move away from it with His help. There is freedom for the soul in sorrowfully acknowledging our sin before God. Later Jesus will come and say, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4). Mourning for our sins results in the comfort found in forgiveness and reconciliation. We don’t get there without the mourning.
We will mourn over many things in this life that is riddled with pain and suffering. Will we mourn equally for our sins?
Challenge: Think about how do you generally react when you are faced with your sin. Read Psalm 51 and David’s response to his sin. Make this your prayer to God.
The Lord Is My Shepherd: A Psalm of David.
23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever. Psalm 23
This is one of David’s psalms preserved by God for us. A psalm is a sacred song, hymn or poem. The shepherd boy refers to God as HIS shepherd. David knew all too well the job of a shepherd. To gather, steer, and protect the helpless sheep in his care.
And from the family line of David, many generations later will come one who is the ultimate Good Shepherd, Jesus.
Challenge: This may be way out of your comfort zone, but grab a journal (or just a piece of paper) and dedicate some time to sitting quietly and writing your own Psalm to God based on whatever is on your mind. It can be a psalm of praise, or confession, or fear, or request. Whatever your heart wants to speak to God.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Psalm 103:8
It might feel a little harsh that everything except those in the ark were utterly and completely destroyed at the hand of God. Sin is a big deal to God and He doesn’t look on it lightly. It separates us from Him. It keeps us from living our best lives.
But there is another truth about God: He is slow to anger. He is merciful and gracious. He is patient with us. He has given us space and time to come to Him in our own free will. He knows we will mess up and we can’t fix things – fix sin – on our own. God wants us to come to Him and be reconciled. So much so that as God’s story unfolds, we will see He sends His Son to die to make the sin payment for us.
A time is coming when Jesus will return again and all will be judged; all those who have not accepted His payment for sin on their behalf will receive the punishment upon themselves. Sometimes we may wish for Jesus to hurry up His return to earth; to come quickly to defeat sin and suffering and death. But God is patient…for all those He loves who have yet to accept His gracious and merciful gift of salvation.
In our human nature, we are often quick to give up on things and people who continue to let us down. But God is patient.
God’s nature is love. He is abounding in STEADFAST – unwavering, unfaltering, resolute, persistent, committed-- LOVE for me and for you…and for that person you are praying for who is currently far from Him. He hasn’t given up on you or them.
God’s love is not for some perfect future version of who we could be, but who we are right here and now. Don’t waste this time you have been given. He is patient, but it won’t last forever.
Questions: What would things look like if God was quick to anger? How does God’s patience in the present often keep us from having a sense of urgency about others knowing Him?
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:13-16
Not only did God create humans in His image and likeness, He uniquely created YOU. The way you look, your personality, your quirks, your talents…all of you. The God who created the universe fashioned you on purpose, for purpose.
Another truth about God is that He is omnipotent (ALL-POWERFUL). He has no limitations. There is nothing in existence that God doesn’t have power over. God is also omnipresent (ALL-PRESENT). He is everywhere all the time…past, present, and future. And God is omniscient (ALL-KNOWING). There isn't a single thing that can be known, past, present, or future, that God isn't aware of.
You have free will to make decisions – good or bad. You choose. God doesn’t force you to do anything. God also already knows what you will do. The choices you will make and the choices others will make that impact you. He sees it all. He is never surprised by anything.
God knew you long before you were born. Nothing is hidden from Him. All of your days are known to Him. Knowing everything, He says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Fearfully… as in with awe, the root of awesome.
YOU are created exactly how a perfect God created you for the life and plans set before you...and God doesn’t make mistakes.
Questions: Does it freak you out a little or give you comfort that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present? Do you believe you are fearfully and wonderfully made just the way you are? When you are tempted to feel down on yourself, whisper to yourself, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and God doesn’t make mistakes.”
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun… Psalm 19:1-4
First, God creates light. He separates the light from darkness, calling one day and one night. Though God has been around forever, this was the first day as we know it.
The verses that follow tell us He next created the atmosphere and divided it from the oceans (which He also created), He created land and divided it from the water, He created vegetation. The sun, moon, stars were created to fill the sky. He created creatures to fill the sky and water. Finally, He created creatures to fill the land, at which time man was created.
Incredibly God’s creation itself points to the glory of God and the beauty of His handiwork. It is a universal language with no speech or words or voice needed. It is declared throughout the world, whether in a crowded city or a remote village.
Though we speak different languages and have different cultures throughout the world, when we lay on the grass outside on a clear night -- no matter where we are -- we all look at the same moon and the same stars. We are all kept warm by the same sun. We are all formed by the same Creator.
Creation declares how big our God is, His masterful engineering, His exquisite artistry, and His unmatched goodness. Not with spoken language, but with colors, connection, order, and beauty. We get a glimpse of God when we take in His masterful creation.
Question: What about creation speaks the most clearly to you with regard to God’s glory and attributes?