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Many people today say that the Bible has great stories and life lessons to be learned, but conclude that they are just stories, at best. They don’t believe real men like David, Moses, or Jeremiah existed. But if this were true, the Bible would be written so differently. Anytime mankind writes something about themselves, it is with a sense of pride and glamour. One of the reasons I believe the Bible wasn’t written by man, but by God, is because Man is not the focus. Man is not on a pedestal in the scriptures. In fact, the Bible puts man in need of a Savior.

Psalm 51 is one of those grimy texts where we can see the depravity of man and how real David’s heart was toward God. To give some background, this Psalm is David’s confession of repentance to God after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba, which resulted in her pregnancy. He lied about it, tried to cover it by taking Uriah (Bathsheba’s husband) away from battle so he (Uriah) can sleep with Bathsheba, and involved murder, as well as the baby’s death. This was sin upon sin, upon sin.

Though there are many things to highlight in this Psalm, I want to highlight three.

1. Though God was displeased, God forgave.

How could a holy and righteous God be righteous in this forgiveness? I mean, you have a death
of a baby, a woman raped, and deceit everywhere you turn. How is it possible that God can just
pass over this mess? Romans 3:25-26 says:

“God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

God was righteous in David’s forgiveness because there is One who paid the price for his sin—Jesus Christ the righteous, in the same way He paid for our sins.

2. Though David was already forgiven, He still asked for forgiveness.

This is a critical point. Many believers think since God has already forgiven us, we don’t need to ask forgiveness. They would say something like, “The cross justified us; why ask for forgiveness, if it’s already settled?” But the cross isn’t for us to not ask for forgiveness; it is the basis of which we know we will be forgiven when we ask. At the point of salvation, we are forgiven and as righteous and holy as we will ever be, because it all only comes from Christ.

However, there is a practical forgiveness and repentance in intimate fellowship with God that sin can still ruin. David realized this, and John did as well (1 John 1:9). Repentance is a lifestyle that never ends because we sin every day, but we know we are His by faith based off of what Jesus did.

3. Though David committed all of those sins, they were not mentioned.

In this whole Psalm, not once did David write anything about his sexual immorality, the murder, or deceit. I think it’s because David knew his problem was deeper than that. This is why he says, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in my sin did my mother conceive me.” David knew that his problem was in his very nature. The outward sins that we can recognize are just the symptoms of a deeper issue. In verse 12, we see what really needed to happen to David: he needed his heart to continue to be changed. He says, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” When we are not joyful in the LORD, we begin to look for that joy and satisfaction elsewhere. That’s when drunkenness, drugs, adultery, and pornography look appealing. But repentance does not just focus on symptoms. It focuses on our sinful nature and the crying out for transformation that is to be satisfied in Jesus alone.

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