A MEDITATION ON PSALM FIFTY ONE.
This week, I went with my friend , Gary, to a "More Worship" event at St. Luke's. The theme was Lent, and a big part of Lent is repentance and Psalm 51 which we read through.
As, you may know, this Lenten period, I have focused on Joy. Now Psalm 51 isn't a psalm that springs to mind when thinking about Joy, but Joy does feature.
So let's reflect on this. The psalm is David's prayer to God and it is a SONG. Do we sing when we pray, or do we keep the singing for church? I think God likes it when we sing to him. We don't only have to sing when we're happy and everything is going great. The psalmist tells us (probably in song) to sing a New Song to the Lord.
David comes as a broken man to God and he cries out for forgiveness, appealing to God's mercy and lovingkindness.
Blot out — The sins had been recorded. They could legally remain there for every. But David appeals to God to intervene and remove it completely. God did it for David, and He does that for us too. He does it legally as His Son, Jesus paid the penalty for all our sin.
Wash me — David was not just concerned with the legality in the ledger, but He wanted to be rid of sin's hold on him. How it affected him personally. David asks God to wash him completely.
I was asked to paint an old garage door. It had been painted before, but the paint was peeling off and the looked patchy. The paint work needed renewing. Before I could apply a new coat of paint, I needed to remove the old one. I will tell you that that took a long time. People made suggestions as to how to deal with it. Some suggested chemicals to eat away at it, one person even suggested I use a blow torch to burn it off (an idea I dismissed immediately as I am not convinced I could do it without burning the garage downb). I went at it with a scraper. It did the trick. Well God doesn't take the easy way out he goes to work on that "old paint" and he removed every spot — leaving us spotless. Then He paints on the righteousness, thick and even.
It interests me that David appeals to God to "Let me hear joy and celebration AGAIN" (verse 8) and "RESTORE to me the joy of my Salvation".
He does not ask God to restore salvation. Salvation is ours, and remains ours from the time of our conversion. But because of our humanity, we have times in our lives when we move away from God. This may be a few minutes or last for many years. The effect this distancing of ourselves from God has is that we lose that true JOY.
There are things that may lift your spirits and bring a smile to your face, but JOY that lasts is found in our relationship with God. Also, when we seek our joy in other places, we find that though it may have us smiling, the after-taste is revolting and leaves us in a worse state than we were before.
Two people, poverty stricken, sleeping rough, being moved on at in convenient times, being soaked through by pouring rain, and cold because of a blasting wind. One of the two is extremely grumpy, swearing under his breath at the person who gave him a sideways glance. The other, greets the person, and smiles? It turns out the grumpy one lost a fortune and was once well off. The more cheerful one, has never had much and was on the street longer. The fact that the first found comfort and joy in his money means that now that that is not there, leaves him more bitter.
When we found we have lost touch with God, we may feel drained of joy. We can ask God to restore that Joy, and renew our spirits.
One remaining thought. It is not that God wants to spoil our fun and "kill our joy" but quite the opposite. When we are in a right place with our Lord, we can experience joy as we've never known it before.
The bones that were crushed under the weight of our sin will sing for joy.