“Soak me in Your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs, set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes, give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails!”
Psalm 51: 7-11
“Why God Loved David” Part XII
“Joy is the natural outcome of the Christian’s obedience to the revealed will of God.”
How do I think my “covenant” or my “promise” with God affects my obedience to His calling in my life?
How does obeying God affect me emotionally, physically and spiritually?
“Obedience won’t stop the decomposition of our physical lives but it will halt the decay of our spiritual lives.”
“Holy joy is the oil to the wheels of our obedience.”
Yesterday we took a close look at the word “covenant” and how this “agreement” related to David’s life and to your life and mine.
As we continue our study of Psalm 51, we find that in this touching letter, written by David to his heavenly Father after his serious fall into sin, there is a very specific portion of this Psalm which deals with the agreement between God and His earthly children.
Interestingly, it is not only David, who in Psalm 51: 7-11, talks about our Father’s “covenant” with us, if we go to the words penned by the prophet Ezekiel in Ezekiel 36: 25-27 (N.I.V.), we’ll read almost identical words as those recorded by David but this time the words came from God, Himself: “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” In Ezekiel, we find God promising and making a covenant with us. He states that He will cleanse us, wash us, give us a new heart, and finally He will give us strength and cause us to walk in His will. As R. B. Kuyper so accurately notes, “Before faith and obedience become acts of man they are gifts of God.”
It was this gift from a God that David knew kept His word and was faithful to His covenant, that David asked, in Psalm 51 to: “Have mercy on me . . . blot out my transgressions . . . wash me thoroughly . . . cleanse me . . . purge me . . . and make me hear joy.”
Then years later, in the book of Ezekiel we find the same trustworthy Father, whom David cried out to when he had fallen so far and done all he could to demolish the bond he had with his heavenly Dad, told His wayward children He would wash them and what’s more, He would replace their hearts of stone with tender hearts of flesh.
Now I’m not some theologian who finds it easy to understand words like “covenant” or “justification” or other complicated sounding doctrinal concepts. Maybe some of you can relate to what I just confessed about my human lack of understanding. However, what I can and do comprehend, very clearly, are the stories of individuals. People like myself who messed up their lives or squandered their God-given talents or thought they were bright enough to do their own thing and get away with it. And so, for individuals like myself who need the practical, everyday stories of real people, God empowered His children down through the ages to leave a detailed record of His interaction with His children. This written chronicle is what we call the Bible. From the beginning of the Bible, in Genesis, to the end in Revelation, we find the factual elements detailed in life-story after life-story. Furthermore, this is why God didn’t tell us just the good parts about people in the Bible. He shows us the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is because ever since the time sin entered this world, the heroes on earth, who have lived in accordance with their Father’s will, have been very few and far between. Even the people we often hear about in sermons or read about in Biblical biographies are found, upon closer scrutiny, to have feet of clay and be very flawed.
David is just one example in a long line of Bible characters, beginning with Adam and Eve, who had chinks in their armor. Yet, with as many short-comings as David exhibited, God showed this all-too-human man His unconditional love.
And later, we find that our Father, whom the prophet Malachi tells us, in the very last book of the Old Testament: “For I am the Lord, I change not” (Malachi 3: 6, K.J.V.), comes to His children, who have run aground again, and followed other gods, and our changeless Father says, “I’ll wash you and give you a new heart.” Not only is our God merciful to us when we don’t deserve His love, but then He does for us what we absolutely, positively can’t do for ourselves - - He transforms us by giving us a heart transplant. And here’s the part that even a mind like mine can understand. Our Father’s heart transplant doesn‘t come with an exorbitantly expensive price tag attached. At least not one for you and me! For instead of demanding we pay-up, our Father sent His precious Son, who gave us a receipt with a stamp across it that says, “Debt Paid In Full.”
What’s more, our Father, who gave His word in Genesis 3: 15 that the debt was to be paid, and gave His word to David that his debt was paid and gave his word in Ezekiel that the debt was paid, says the same thing in 2011 to you and me, “Your debt is paid. The covenant is not broken.” How could you and I ever doubt God loved David. And how can we doubt God loves us, too.
“Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small:
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”
“Give us grace, O Lord, not only to hear thy Word with our ears, but also to receive it into our hearts and to show it forth in our lives; for the glory of thy great name.”
“Oh Lord, I know not what to ask of thee.
Thou alone knowest what are my true needs.
Thou lovest me more that I know how to love myself.
Help me to see my real needs which are concealed from me.
I dare not ask either a cross or consolation,
I can only wait on thee.
My heart is open to thee;
Visit and help me, for thy great mercy’s sake;
Strike me and heal me,
Cast me down and raise me up.
I worship in silence thy holy will and inscrutable ways.
I offer myself as a sacrifice to thee.
I put all my trust in thee.
I have no other desire than to fulfil thy will.
Teach me how to pray.
Pray thou thyself in me.”
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