On Confession

by Scott Brooks

Psalm 51

HISTORY: Once there was a famous king. He started out not so famous. Just a shepherd boy. Full of faith in God. Innocent. Passionate. He wasn’t corrupted or tainted by life. His older brothers were jerks sometimes but outside of that life was good. His life changed when he went to the battle between Israel and the Philistines and saw a huge warrior insult God and Israel and no one stood up to him. He didn’t care about the size of the warrior he cared more about the offense to God and was shocked no one else in Israel felt the same. So he, this young teenager, killed a giant. Actually by his own words it was really God moving through him and giving him the victory. That’s how the story of David starts. God said of David, “This is a man after my own heart.”

But something happened to David when he was in his 40’s-50’s. He ended up sleeping with a married woman, got her pregnant, had her husband sent up to the heat of the battle so that he would be killed by the enemy, and then married the woman. David, this famous man of God, had drifted so far. And we don’t do this kind of drifting overnight. It takes months maybe even years of crossing the line again and again. Until one day we’re doing things we never would have possibly done.

David covered his tracks and buried all evidence of what he had done and pretended like nothing ever happened. Buried it for around 10 months. He thought he got away with it until Nathan, a prophet sent by God to confront David, brought it all out. David kept the charade up and was lying to Nathan until finally Nathan accused him outright and David broke. In judgment, the baby died and God brought judgment to David’s family line.

Today we’re going to look at the psalm that David wrote following his encounter with Nathan. Let’s read Psalm 51.

I AM GUILTY: V1-6 

V1: This psalm is the heart cry of every single God-worshipper in this world who has had their sin exposed before God and others. Mercy! God have mercy! Mercy is not giving us what we do deserve. David knows what he deserves. He deserves to be killed for his sin and crimes against God, Bathsheba, her husband, Israel’s army, and the nation of Israel. And he cries out, “MERCY!” It was a defining moment in his life. Would he keep up the lie or break?

When we sin and bury it we have to create a false reality – or more concisely – we have to lie not to others but also to ourselves. I remember a movie, “Catch Me If You Can” where a father was con-artist and his son was becoming a con-artist and there is this one moment where the son was just wanting his father to finally admit the con – just to live in truth – and the father said, “Got to keep the con going. Got to keep the con going.” You could see the defeat in the son’s eyes because he was looking for a way to stop it all and all he got was, “Keep the con going.” There are continually moments in our lives when God comes along and catches us and busts us. And we must choose – To break or keep the con going. David broke. Anyone here ever lie to cover up sin? Anyone ever have God send someone to confront you and you deny it? I have. I didn’t want to face it. I didn’t want the shame. I didn’t want the embarrassment and humiliation.

V1-2 Definitions: Blot out all my transgression. Literally it means, “to make something vanish.” Who hasn’t cried out for that? “O God would you make it all go away! Just make it all go away!” Who hasn’t felt like they were hoping to be living in a dream and just be able to wake up and have it all go away? This psalm is replete with words from the tabernacle that David employed in his confession. Cleansing was the process David saw everyday down at the tabernacle. Priests cleaning themselves with water to enter the presence of God. You couldn’t go in unless you were clean. He knew he couldn’t enter the presence of God unless he was cleansed. Wash me. It’s the blood he saw spilled from animals in worship that washed away the sins of people. He knew his sins were this stain on his spirit. Stained black with lust, adultery, murder, deceit…Wash me! Wash Me! Wash Me!

V3-4: David goes on to say, “For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me.” The New Living Translation says, “I recognize my rebellion and it haunts me every day and night.” Boy isn’t this true. Sin haunts us. Day and night. Folks if your sin doesn’t haunt you a red light should be going off in your soul. Unconfessed sin torments us. Part of it is the Holy Spirit and his conviction. But the other half is demonic. They entice us to sin and then when they do they condemn us and destroy us and isolate us and eat us alive.

He finally admits the reality in v4 I have sinned against you. It’s not that he was saying he hadn’t sinned against others. But he was finally admitting this whole thing of confession and sin starts with God. He knew it. We know it. Folks let’s be honest, we know it. We do. David goes on to admit that God is justified in any words and blameless in actions He takes against David in judgment. Submission. Yielding. It’s as if to say, “Lord I will take your punishment and discipline and not defame you or be angry with you because I deserve it.”

V5-6: Depravity/Truth: He takes an interesting turn and brings up the idea of depravity. It’s the idea that there is a sin nature that is passed down to each and every person from the fall of Adam and Eve. At birth there is inclination towards sin. It’s not that sex or his mom had an affair. It’s that there is a spiritual depravity we are all born into. And David sees it so clear. And it makes sense what he says next, “Put truth in that place – the innermost place – where the depravity is. Put your truth all the way in there. Put your wisdom in there. Crowd out the evil.  No, take out the sin and evil and leave only truth and wisdom.”

That putting of truth in there doesn’t just happen magically. It happens as we meditate on God’s truth. As we read His word. As we memorize His word. And not because we have to but because we’re desperate and hungry to fill out hearts – the most secret places with His truth and HIS wisdom because we never want to go back to that old life.

V7-12 CLEANSE ME: 

Hyssop: David moves from confession now into calling out for help. He’s pleading here. Crying out for mercy and grace. He starts by asking God “to purge or purify me with Hyssop”. Hyssop was a flowering plant priests dipped in the holy water or blood from sacrifices and would paint or use it to sprinkle the blood or water on things to make the them holy.

Wash Me: David comes back to the idea of washing and cries out again, “Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” He saw himself as stained and soiled. It’s the common experience we all have. Sin makes us dirty spiritually and we can literally feel that dirt and filth. And he’s crying out what we all have, “Wash me and I will be whiter than snow.” God can do that.

Hear Joy: David goes on to request, “Let me hear joy and gladness.” David couldn’t remember the last time he heard joy and gladness. Jesus says that His joy only comes through obedience. Sin blocks joy. When we are sin and refusing to repent joy can’t get through. Sin steals our joy and we wake up one day and realize we haven’t heard joy and gladness for a long time. Conversely, the longer we walk in obedience the greater the joy and the increased ability to discern joy or the loss of joy in others. You can see the light go out in people’s eyes.

Broken Bones: David continues by pleading “Let the bones you have broken rejoice.” God obviously didn’t literally break David’s bones. It’s symbolic of the weight of God’s conviction being so heavy it felt like his bones were being broken. The word could be translated from the Hebrew as pulverized. It’s so vivid and exactly what it feels like when God does convict us. And amazingly David says, “Those same bones God has crushed will rejoice in God.” The world and Satan would say “Hate God for crushing you. What kind of God is that?” But the mind controlled by the Spirit says, “Praise you Jesus! Thank you for the pain that woke me up. Thank you for the pain of conviction and for breaking me my rebellious spirit. Thank you. Thank you! Thank you! It was the best thing that EVER happened to me. Thank you.”

Hide/Blot: David returns back to this idea he mentioned at the beginning of God hiding His face and making His sins no more.

Create In Me: In V10 we have this powerful prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit in me.” This statement right here is so critical. Until we come to the point of realizing only God can create a clean heart in us and renew a right spirit in us we will never be free from sin. Unfortunately it’s a familiar crisis moment that happens continually in our lives when we come back again and again to the reality that we cannot do it. No self-improvement vows work. Promising to clean ourselves up so we can talk to God is ridiculous and ludicrous. We CAN NOT DO IT. WE CAN NOT CLEAN OURSELVES. WE CAN NOT RENEW ANYTHING IN US. We simply come to Him, “Please Clean me. Clean Me. Renew me. Renew Me. I need you to do it. You are the only one who can do this. Please do it!!!”

Cast Me Not: His next line is so telling. Let’s read V11. How many here can testify to that feeling that God has left us when we have sinned in some significant way or when we have refused to confess and repent for an extended amount of time?  That we feel he took His presence away. It’s how it feels. God goes quiet. We can’t reach him. We feel like He’s abandoned us. The truth is God hasn’t left but we have built a stronghold of sin that keeps Him out. We’re the ones who have silenced Him. The path to connection is confession and repentance and when we move towards Him we discover He’s been there the whole time. Some of you need to hear today “God hasn’t left you. God hasn’t written you off. You aren’t rejected. He’s here. Right now. Confess. Repent and you’ll find He’s never left.”

Restore/Uphold: He goes on to make yet one more request in V12. It’s again a reference to the joy he has lost. He desperately wants it back. His request for God to sustain him is not just for him to say, “Yes” but to even have the desire to say, “Yes” to God. Give me the “want to” to want to be.

RENEWED VOWS: 

V13-17 starts to take a different turn as David starts to renew his vows of devotion to God. What’s his first vow or mission? I’m going to tell everyone about you. I’m going to tell all the people I know who are far from God how awesome your grace is. The natural response in the face of God’s unbelievable mercy and grace is to tell people who don’t have it. He goes on to promise God that if God truly does forgive him and deliver him from the guilt and judgment he deserves He will never stop praising God. After all he’s gone through and the brokenness and joyless life and haunting 10 months, he can’t wait to praise God. Praise God without any guilt. Praise God without any shame. Nothing between Him and His God. I know what that feels like. Do you? To praise God free of sin, and guilt, and conviction. No walls up. You know what that feels like. “O, God open my lips. I have to praise you. I have to worship You.”

Religiosity: David goes off real quick on what kind of worship God likes. David has a clear picture. God hates worship that is fake and false. Do all the Christian things and churchy things but there isn’t brokenness, there isn’t surrender, there isn’t any connection. He hates it. David should know because he had been faking it for at least 10 months if not longer. You can tell he’s ready to worship God with all His heart. “Let me at it God. I’m going to worship with everything. EVERYTHING!”

He concludes with a prayer for Israel in V18-19. The land and the nation was connected to obedience and especially the obedience of its king. His song ends with Him thinking of others. Thinking of what impact his sin might have on His nation. The true David is back. He’s leading. He’s caring. He’s restored. And interceding once again for his nation.