Introduction: At his lowest point, David committed terrible acts of adultery, murder, and lies (2 Sam. 11). After David became blind to his sins, God used the prophet Nathan to expose his sins and convict him (2 Sam. 12). For the rest of his life, David endured ongoing consequences for his sins. But God eventually restored him. Overcome with gratitude for God’s mercy and grace, David wrote Psalm 51 to help sinners find God’s restoration after sin. His Psalm pointed to Jesus Christ. Through Psalm 51 and the whole counsel of God, the Bible reveals seven lessons for finding Jesus’ full restoration after you sin. These include: (1) repentance, (2) honesty, (3) faith in Jesus’ atonement, (4) the Holy Spirit, (5) service, (6) gratitude, and (7) Jesus’ fellowship.
First, after Nathan confronted him, David openly confessed his sins and repented to God. Your restoration through Jesus also begins with the confession of your sins. Second, instead of making excuses, David confessed his sinful nature and his need for God’s wisdom to guide him. Restoration through Jesus also requires honesty regarding your sinful nature and your need for His guidance through the Word and the Spirit. Third, David asked God to purify his sins, something that required faith in a blood sacrifice. Jesus’ one-time sacrifice at the cross fulfilled the need for blood sacrifices. But your restoration requires faith that Jesus paid the price for your sins through His atoning sacrifice. Fourth, David asked for a clean heart and a renewal of the Spirit within him. Restoration through Jesus includes allowing the Holy Spirit to transform you to renew your mind on a daily basis. Fifth, restored with the joy of his undeserved salvation, David promised to teach sinners regarding God’s ways and how to be converted in their faith. Restoration through Jesus includes being a living sacrifice for Him. This includes evangelizing the lost and teaching God’s Word. Sixth, out of gratitude for his undeserved restoration, David promised to sing God’s praises. Restoration through Jesus should also include gratitude for His deliverance. Finally, David looked forward to an ongoing relationship with God where He would delight in his sacrifices. Restoration also requires a desire to live in fellowship with Jesus.
1. Repentance: Restoration Begins With the Confession of Your Sins. Ps. 51:1-4.
David openly confessed and repented of his sins before God. After Nathan confronted him, David admitted to terrible sins against God that included adultery, murder, and lies: “For the music director. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Be gracious to me, God, according to Your faithfulness; according to the greatness of Your compassion, wipe out my wrongdoings. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my wrongdoings, and my sin is constantly before me. 4 Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.” (Ps. 51:1-4). David was a broken man at this point. He acknowledged his “guilt” once, his “wrongdoings” twice, and his “sin” three times. He offered no defense. All he could do was appeal to God’s compassionate and forgiving character (Ex. 34:6-7).
Nathan confronts David1
David’s blindness to his seven deadly sins. Through his adultery, murder, and lies, David violated at least seven of God’s Ten Commandments. First, by lusting after his neighbor’s wife, he violated God’s Tenth Commandment against coveting (Ex. 20:17; Dt. 5:21). Second, by repeatedly giving into his lusts of his flesh, he made an idol out of an attractive woman and violated God’s Second Commandment (Ex. 20:4-5; Dt. 5:8-9). Third, by sleeping with a married woman, he violated God’s Seventh Commandment against adultery (Ex. 20:14; Dt. 5:18). Fourth, he violated God’s Sixth Commandment against murder when he killed Uriah (Ex. 20:13; Dt. 5:17). Fifth, by engaging in lies and deceit to cover up his neighbor Uriah’s murder, he violated God’s Ninth Commandment against bearing false witness (Ex. 20:16; Dt. 5:20). Sixth, after he later married Bathsheba, he violated God’s law against a leader having more than one wife: “17 He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; . . ..” (Dt. 17:17(a)). He further violated God’s purpose of marriage by joining himself together by more than one other person (Matt. 19:4-6; 1 Tim. 3:2). To become king, he would have made a public vow to uphold the Torah. By breaking his vow before God, David also profaned His holy name. He was not to “swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God.” (Lev. 19:12). Thus, his actions also violated the Third Commandment: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” (Ex. 20:7; Dt. 5:11). Finally, as God’s appointed king, David violated the Fifth Commandment by dishonoring his heavenly Father. “Honor your father. . .” (Ex. 20:12; Dt. 5:16). Even if he only broke one Commandment, he would have broken them all: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” (Jam. 2:10). David came to appreciate and write Psalm 51 where he sought God’s mercy and grace only after God showed him his sins. David was a man after God’s heart not because he was perfect. Instead, he was a godly man because he repented of his many sins.
David’s actions resulted in misery and sorrow. David stated that “my sin is constantly before me.” (Ps. 51:3). When someone longs for the things of the flesh, God will eventually hand that person over to his lusts (Rom. 1:28). But the pleasure Satan offers for the adulterer does not last long (Heb. 11:25; Lk. 12:19-20). In reference to sinners, David said: “[God] gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.” (Ps. 106:105). “. . . So is the one who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; whoever touches her will not go unpunished.” (Prov. 6:26-29). God also warns of “curses” for those who submit to covetousness (Lev. 26:14-37; Dt. 27:15-26; 28:15-68). Before Nathan confronted David, God softened his heart for repentance by removing his good health: “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.” (Ps. 32:3-4). Poor health can have many causes. Sometimes, people who are mostly blameless in their walk can suffer terrible afflictions. But if you have hidden sins and your health is suffering, God is likely trying to reach you.
Repent of your sins. God spared David only because he repented (Ps. 51:4; 2 Sam. 12:13). To be saved, you must also repent to Jesus. In preparation for Jesus, John the Baptist called all sinners to repent. ‘“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”’ (Matt. 3:2). Jesus also began His ministry with a call to repentance: “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”’ (Matt. 4:17). “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!”’ (Lk. 18:13.) His disciples also called on sinners to repent so that Jesus could wipe away their sins: “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;” (Acts. 3:19). If you confess your sins, Jesus promises to forgive you: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jo. 1:9). If you have hidden sins, confess them to Jesus without delay.
Give thanks that God is merciful. David appealed to God’s mercy: “Be gracious to me, God, according to Your faithfulness; according to the greatness of Your compassion, wipe out my wrongdoings.” (Ps. 51:1; Ex. 34:6-7). God is merciful each time you repent and return to Him: “The Lord’s acts of mercy indeed do not end, for His compassions do not fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:22-23). “Then you will say on that day, “I will give thanks to You, LORD; for although You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me.” (Is. 12:1). “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will gather you.” (Is. 54:7). He is merciful in the face of our sins because he is filled with compassion and love: “For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not abandon you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.” (Dt. 4:31). Thus, God deserves your praise because He is filled with compassion and mercy.
2. Honesty: Restoration Requires Honesty Regarding Your Sinful Nature. Ps. 51:5-6.
David was honest before God regarding his sinful nature and his need for God’s help. David confessed that he was a sinner, and he needed God to keep him from sinning again: “5 Behold, I was brought forth in guilt, and in sin my mother conceived me. 6 Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in secret You will make wisdom known to me.” (Ps. 51:5-6). When Adam sinned, he blamed Eve (Gen. 3:12). Eve in turn blamed the serpent for deceiving her (Gen. 3:13). David offered no such excuses.
(David confesses his sins)
All have fallen short and are in need of salvation. David confessed that he was sinful by nature (Ps. 51:5). He later proclaimed that all mankind is evil from birth: “The wicked have turned away from the womb; these who speak lies go astray from birth.” (Ps. 58:3). He therefore proclaimed that none are righteous before God: “They have all turned aside, together they are corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Ps. 14:3). “And do not enter into judgment with Your servant, for no person living is righteous in Your sight.” (Ps. 143:2). Through his mistakes and his God-given wisdom, Solomon also declared that all have sinned: “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” (Ecc. 7:20). “When they sin against You (for there is no person who does not sin) and You are angry with them and turn them over to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to the land of the enemy, distant or near;” (1 Kgs. 8:46). “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin’?” (Prov. 20:9). Indeed, God only spared Solomon from eternal death out of mercy and to stay faithful to His promise to David (2 Sam. 7:14-15). Paul later quoted from Solomon’s end-of-life revelations to form two of the central tenants of universal sin and the need for salvation (Ro. 3:23). The prophet Jeremiah made a similar revelation about our sinful hearts: “For My people are foolish, they do not know Me; they are foolish children and have no understanding. They are skillful at doing evil, but they do not know how to do good.” (Jer. 4:22). If you believe that you are without sin, the truth is not within you: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jo. 1:8). Thus, every person must be honest regarding their sins with God.
Acknowledge that your salvation is not earned according to your works. Moses was a murderer. He was a sinner who did not deserve to be God’s Lawgiver. Likewise, David, Solomon, and Jehoram were also murderers, and every king from Solomon to Jehoram either tolerated or practiced idolatry. They were all sinners, and none of them deserved to be king. But God used these sinners out of mercy and grace. You also did not earn your salvation: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;” (Eph. 2:8). “But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.” (Acts 15:11). “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;” (Ro. 3:24). If you feel that you will to be saved based upon your good works or for being a good person, “then Christ died needlessly” (Gal. 2:21).
There is no sin that you can hide from God. Nathan told David that his secret sins would be made public (2 Sam. 12:12). Unlike David, Joseph did not give in to the advances of Potiphar’s wife because he knew that God would have known (Gen. 39:9). “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, watching the evil and the good.” (Prov. 15:3). “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Heb. 4:13). “But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out.” (Nu. 32:23). It was the lack of fear of God that brought David into temptation: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Prov. 1:7; Ps. 111:10; Job 28:28). And, to fear the Lord you must hate evil: “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil. . .” (Prov. 8:13). Is there any sin that you are trying to hide?
A godly person only speaks the truth. David stated that “You desire truth in the innermost being.” (Ps. 51:6). Solomon warns that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21) and that “a wholesome tongue is a tree of life.” (Prov. 15:4). God condemned those who refuse to repent of their lies: “For He said, ‘Surely, they are My people, sons who will not deal falsely.’” (Is. 63:8(a)). “You shall not . . . deal falsely, nor lie to one another.” (Lev. 19:11). “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” (Eph. 4:25).
God’s hidden wisdom is found in His Word and the Spirit. David depended upon God to stay free from sin: “in secret You will make wisdom known to me.” (Ps. 51:6). He needed the wisdom of God’s Word to guide him: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps. 119:105). “Your word is truth.” (Jo. 17:17(b)). When you read the Word and pray, the Spirit will give you wisdom: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I said to you.” (Jo. 14:26). Are you reading the Word and praying for the Spirit to give you His wisdom: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (Jam. 1:5).
3. Atonement: Restoration Requires Faith in Jesus’ Atoning Sacrifice. Ps. 51:7-9.
David asked for God to atone for his sins and remove his guilt. Knowing that an apology was not enough, David asked God to atone for and purify him of his guilt under the Law: “7 Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; cleanse me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness, let the bones You have broken rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins and wipe out all my guilty deeds.” (Ps. 51:7-9). Implicit in David’s Psalm was the need for God’s atonement: “David looked for God to do a work of spiritual and moral cleansing, and to do it in connection with the atoning sacrifice of a substitute. Hyssop was used to apply the blood of the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:22). Hyssop was also used to sprinkle the priest’s purifying water (Numbers 19:19). In the Levitical law it was the priests who used the hyssop to sprinkle the purifying water . . .David didn’t think for a moment that he could cleanse himself. He needed God to cleanse him, and to do it through the blood of the perfect sacrifice anticipated by animal sacrifices . . . David knew that God’s cleansing was effective. His sin was a deep stain but purity could be restored. We sense that David spoke with the voice of faith; it can be difficult for the convicted sinner to believe in such complete cleansing. It takes faith to believe God despite the doubt and difficulty.” (David Guzik on Ps. 51) (italics added).2
David’s many crimes carried multiple death sentences. Saying that he was sorry would not free David from his punishment under God’s Law. The penalty for David’s adultery was death: “If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, the one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” (Lev. 20:10). “If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel.” (Dt. 22:22). The punishment for David’s intentional murder was also death: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.” (Gen 9:6). “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.” (Ex. 21:12). “If a man takes the life of any human being, he shall surely be put to death.” (Lev. 24:17). “If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death . . . .” (Nu. 35:30). Nathan also accused David of “despising” God’s Word (2 Sam. 12:9). His actions blasphemed God’s holy name: “Therefore, son of man, speak to the house of Israel and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Yet in this your fathers have blasphemed Me by acting treacherously against Me.’’” (Ezek. 20:27). “For ‘the name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles because of you,’ just as it is written.” (Ro. 2:24). For someone who blasphemed God’s name through his conduct as David did, the penalty for this was also death: “Because he has despised the word of the LORD and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt will be on him.” (Nu. 15:31). David could not appreciate his need for God’s mercy and grace until he recognized the penalty for his sins. Nor could he atone for his sins on his own.
Faith in Jesus brings atonement for sin. There can be no forgiveness without the shedding of blood (Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:22). Jesus was the lamb without defect who fulfilled all the sin offerings for us (Isa. 53:7; Jo. 1:29; Heb. 10:12-14; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). If God accepted the blood of animals “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:14). “but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 Jo. 1:7). All that is needed is your faith in Him as both your Lord and Savior (Jo. 3:16, 3:18; 3:36; 6:40; 11:25).
Jesus will also blot out your sin. David asked for God to “purify,” “cleanse,” and then “wipe out” his “guilty deeds” (Ps. 51:2, 7, 9). Through faith in Jesus’ atonement, God promises to do these things: “I have wiped out your wrongdoings like a thick cloud and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” (Is. 44:22). “God could make [David] as if he had never sinned at all. Such is the power of the cleansing work of God upon the heart that he can restore innocence to us, and make us as if we had never been stained with transgression at all.” (Charles Spurgeon on Ps. 51).
4. Holy Spirit: Restoration Includes Transformation Through the Spirit. Ps. 51:10-11.
David asked for the Holy Spirit to transform his heart. To remain free of his sin, David asked for God’s Holy Spirit to transform his heart and to stay with him: “10 Create in me a clean heart, God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” (Ps. 51:10-11). “What David says about the Holy Spirit in 51:11 (MT 51:13) has to be understood in the unfolding of biblical theology. Under the old covenant, David enjoyed the anointing of the Spirit as Israel’s king. Saul had previously enjoyed the same, but when he sinned the Spirit was taken from him. When David was anointed, the Spirit came on David. Saul was rejected, and David was established as his replacement (see esp. 1 Sam. 16:13-14 and the wider context). David, then, asks the Lord not to do to him what he did to Saul: remove the Spirit, end his reign as king, and banish him from God’s presence. Under the new covenant, believers experience not only the new heart for which David prays, believers are also the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16). David’s words easily translate into a new covenant context for those who seek the renewal only God can provide and the presence that will be enjoyed only by those who have experienced the transforming power of God’s holiness.” (James M. Hamilton Jr., Evangelical Bible Theology Commentary Psalms (Vol. I: Psalms 1-72) (Lexham Academic 2021) p. 511-12).
God promised a new covenant would include transformation through the Holy Spirit. God made a covenant through Abraham (Gen. 17:7), Abraham’s descendants through Moses (Ex. 19-24; Dt. 28) and then a covenant with David (2 Sam. 7). But David recognized that he (along with God’s people) could not keep their promises to God. Thus, he asked for God to “create in me a clean heart,” (Ps. 51:10). God later promised that He would make a new and even greater Covenant with His people (Jer. 31:32; Heb. 8:8-9). This foreshadowed the “new covenant” through Jesus (Lk. 22:20; 2 Cor. 3:6). You are no longer judged for your failures (Heb. 8:7). Under the new covenant, your salvation is tied to your faith in Jesus (Ro. 7:6; Gal. 3:13-14). As part of this “new covenant”, God promised us a “new heart” and a “new Spirit” to convict us and help maintain our promises to Him: “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,” (Ezek. 11:19). “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezek. 36:26). “I will also give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me wholeheartedly.” (Jer. 24:7). This foreshadowed the Holy Spirit. He will transform your heart: “revealing yourselves, that you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Cor. 3:3). “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (Jo. 3:5).
Repenting without the Spirit’s transformation will likely result in backslidden walk. Like David, Saul also repented when God’s prophet confronted him (1 Sam. 15:24). Yet, moments later, Saul revealed that he cared more about what the people thought of him than what God thought (1 Sam. 15:30). He also at times confessed his sins to David for trying to kill him (1 Sam. 24:17; 26:21). But he would then go back to pursuing David. Even Pharaoh once confessed his sins before God (Ex. 9:27). But he then went back to persecuting God’s people. David’s repentance was real because it also brought a change in his behavior. He never took another wife or concubine after Bathsheba. The Spirit gave him the strength to do this. If you have backslidden, let the Spirit transform you.
Let the Holy Spirit transform you and leave your old life of sin behind. Through faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit transforms your heart to make you a “new creation”: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17). As a new creation, you should not allow any provision for your old sinful self: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Ro. 13:14). “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” (Gal. 5:16). Out of gratitude for Jesus’ mercy and grace, your life should become a “living sacrifice” for Him. (Ro. 12:1).
5. Service: Restoration Includes Serving Jesus and Others in Need. Ps. 51:12-13.
David promised that he would express his joy by teaching sinners how to find restoration. To show his appreciation, David promised to teach sinners how to find God’s restoration: “12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach wrongdoers Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You.” (Ps. 51:12-13). David did not seek atonement for his own benefit. Instead, he desired to serve God.
God’s promise of salvation brought David joy. David sought to have his “joy” restored through the reassurance that God accepted his confession and atonement (Ps. 51:12). David’s joy came from the hope of his salvation: “So that I may tell of all Your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in Your salvation.” (Ps. 9:14). “But I have trusted in Your faithfulness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.” (Ps. 13:5). “So my soul shall rejoice in the LORD; it shall rejoice in His salvation.” (Ps. 35:9). Through Jesus, you also have the hope in His promised salvation (1 Cor. 15:19).
Jesus offers you joy through the Spirit. As a down payment on your salvation, Jesus offers you an abundant life when you seek His fellowship: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (Jo. 10:10). The abundant life that He offers includes the peace and joy that only the Holy Spirit can provide: “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Ro. 14:17). “[I]n Your presence is fullness of joy;” (Ps. 16:11; 21:6). Joy is also a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22; Ro. 14:17; 15:13). Living your faith and walking with Jesus also involves sharing the joy of the Spirit: “ . . . I rejoice and share my joy with you.” (Phil. 2:17(b)). “Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” (Phil. 2:2). When you suffer pain, do you seek out the joy that His offers through the Spirit?
Jesus saved you to serve His Kingdom, not your own. David sought redemption so that he could serve God by helping to restore fellow sinners (Ps. 51:13). Jesus also died so that you could do good works for His Kingdom: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10). Are you using His blessings to serve Him or yourself?
The Holy Spirit will empower you to teach fellow sinners the path to restoration. David’s desire to teach sinners how to be “converted” (Ps. 51:13) would have required humility and courage. Many would have viewed him as a hypocrite based upon his past sins. But Paul followed in David’s example. With the power of the Holy Spirit, he confessed to sinners that the same Savior whom he once persecuted was in fact the only path to salvation: “and [Paul] immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’ All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, ‘Is this not the one who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?’ But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.” (Acts 9:20-21). Jesus also wants you to share your testimony. Your testimony regarding your path to redemption will help follow sinners. Like David and Paul, the Holy Spirit will strengthen you when you do so (2 Tim. 1:7).
6. Gratitude: Restoration Requires Humble Gratitude Before Jesus. Ps. 51:14-17.
Out of gratitude, David promised to sing God’s praises. David also promised to express his gratitude through songs of praise and worship, and humility before God: “14 Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God, the God of my salvation; then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness. 15 Lord, open my lips, so that my mouth may declare Your praise. 16 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You do not take pleasure in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, God, You will not despise.” (Ps. 51:14-17). David praised God’s forgiveness because he did nothing to deserve it. Instead, he knew he deserved death.
Restoration requires humility. If you have a “contrite heart” (Ps. 51:17), Jesus will also restore you: “But You, LORD, are a shield around me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.” (Ps. 3:3). “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12; Lk. 1:52; 14:11; 18:14; Jam. 4:6(b); 4:10; 1 Pet. 5:6; Prov. 29:23). Are you staying humble so that Jesus can restore and lift you up?
Sing Jesus’ praise for His forgiveness and His mercy and grace. David wrote Psalm 51 for generations to sing so that all could follow his example in seeking God’s restoration after sin. Like David, each sinner has a story to tell about their deliverance. When Jesus healed a demon-possessed man, he ran, proclaiming praise for what Jesus did for him: “And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.” (Mk. 5:20). Will you sing Jesus’ praises?
Sing praises for your undeserved salvation. The psalms encourage believers to sing praises for their undeserved salvation: “Come and hear, all who fear God, and I will tell of what He has done for my soul.” (Ps. 66:16). “My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and of Your salvation all day long; for I do not know the art of writing.” (Ps. 71:15). How are you expressing your gratitude to Jesus for your salvation?
A life of obedience is a measure of your gratitude. David stated that God desired the “sacrifices” of “a broken and a contrite heart.” (Ps. 51:16-17). This translates to a life of humility and Spirit-led obedience to God: “Samuel said, ‘Does the LORD have as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than a sacrifice, and to pay attention is better than the fat of rams.”’ (1 Sam. 15:22). “You have not desired sacrifice and meal offering; You have opened my ears; You have not required burnt offering and sin offering.” (Ps. 40:6). Obedience also shows your love for Jesus: “and to love Him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mk. 12:33). Is your gratitude to Jesus visible through a life of humble obedience to His will for you?
7. Fellowship: Restoration Requires a Desire to Live in Jesus’ Fellowship. Ps. 51:18-19.
David desired most a restored relationship with God. David delighted in the prospect that his forgiveness, restoration, and renewed leadership would also restore God’s fellowship with him: “18 By Your favor do good to Zion; build the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices, in burnt offering and whole burnt offering; then bulls will be offered on Your altar.” (Ps. 51:18-19). “The ‘walls of Jerusalem’ would refer to the real defense of the nation and the guarantee of divine favor – the moral defense. The king’s forgiveness and spiritual renewal to proper attitudes and decisions would be the true and moral defense of the city and the nation . . . God’s work of spiritual renewal would enable the people to worship correctly . . . We, like the psalmist, can and must have complete cleansing before we can fully and freely serve God in any capacity. Our eternal destiny may not be in doubt when we sin, and neither was David’s because he appealed to that covenant relationship, but our fellowship and service will be. God will not tolerate unconfessed sin, but will discipline for it. And if we harbor unconfessed sin in our lives, we cannot teach sinners about forgiveness, we cannot praise God, we cannot come to His table, and we will not have the joy that we knew when we were walking with the Lord. We may still try to do these things without finding forgiveness, but it will be hypocrisy, and therefore not accepted or blessed by God. (Allen Ross, A Commentary of the Psalms: Volume 2 (42-89), Kregel Academic (2013) p. 204-5).
Jesus offers His fellowship to you if you seek Him in faith. God promises His fellowship to anyone who earnestly seeks Him in faith: “And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13). “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.” (Dt. 4:29). Jesus made this same offer to believers at Laodicea. They were saved. But they were not walking in fellowship with Him: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:20). Are you seeking out Jesus’ fellowship?