This sermon on Psalm 51 explores he plight of David as he recognizes his failures and desperately seeks the Lord's quidance. He fears he has lost the Holy Spirit. We must take from this message that failure is never final. How do we react and use failure? Does it make us draw nearer or pull away from God's invitation and promise?
We all fail, some of us more frequently than others. The beauty of this psalm is that it shows that God accepts failure and can use it to his glory.
David had failed, in fact he head really blew it. His illicit affair with Bathsheba was only a part of his problems. But the extent of David's failures is a happy signal to us that no matter who you are, and no matter how much you blow it, there is not only hope for you, but in fact God may well use your failure and your weakness for the benefit of yourself and others.
The bible is full of examples of otherwise noted and respected individuals who failed. John Mark went with Paul and Barnabas as a missionary but got cold feet and ran away. Obviously this did not permanently damage or disgrace the one who later wrote the second book in the New Testament. Thomas doubted, Noah got drunk, Moses lost his temper, Peter denied Jesus, Paul was often inconsiderate of others, and, just to prove that women mess up as well, Martha pouted. Yet every one of these people was used by God.
But David, the king, was a high profile, a king size, failure. To his credit he didn't try to run away from his failings or try to gloss it over. He clearly recorded not just his failures but his feelings. He climbed back out of his failure so that his experience might be a guide for others.
Note how the psalm starts off with a tone of heart wrenching guilt and agony. But it ends with a tone of praise, adoration and commitment to service. While failure, particularly in the area of sin can never be condoned, still it is very important to speculate the number of people over the centuries who have been aided by David's vivid portrayal of his personal failures.
In David's description of his recovery or comeback the word spirit is used four times in very specific ways:
- "Create a right (steadfast) spirit in me" v:10
- "Do not take your Holy Spirit from me" v:11
- "Uphold (sustain) me with your free (willing) spirit" v:12
- "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit" v:17
David's failure had a spiritual basis and therefor had to have a spiritual solution. Since most failures today are caused by spiritual factors, the same holds true as we seek solutions. Spiritual laws have been broken and to solve the problem we must get right with God.
A Right Spirit - By acknowledging his need for a "right" spirit David obviously implied that his spirit had been "wrong". The fact is that normally we don't go from "wrong" spirit to "right" spirit. Usually in between them has to be a "Broken" spirit before God can use us.
If we look back into the cause of David's failure in II Samuel 11 we find David shirking his kingly duty. Rather than leading his troops into battle, David, in effect, said "Here I am Lord, send Joab". In verse 2 it is pointed out that David also had a "wrong" spirit of laziness. He never got out of bed until evening. Apparently his concern for his troops in battle was not lying heavy on his mind. And things with his "wrong" spirit just continued to go down hill from there.
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