March 1, 2020
Fr Phil Eberhart
The Anatomy of Repentance
Ps 51 as a model prayer
Did you ever wonder how, after all that King David did just in one instance with Bathsheba,... how God could still refer to him as "a man after My own heart!" ?? I've wondered that.
How do you get that name in spite of all he did? Granted, he was a great king, a valiant warrior, not a bad songwriter and musician, but how do all those weigh in the balance against sexual intrigue and immorality, then cover up and eventually murder, of a man who was exactly the opposite of David, brave, faithful and loyal to the very end! ... to both his wife and his King!
Turn to the song David wrote, the incredible poem of repentance and let's examine it a bit more closely.
Let's look more closely...
Vs. 1-4 David dives right in... there is no small talk here, no if's, and's or but's in his approach to God.
It's an appeal to God's grace and mercy. David knows that on his own merits he doesn't have a prayer! But because of what he knows of God's love, His lovingkindness - His unfailing love - he makes his appeal begin there. He begins with God's nature of love, God's history of Grace and Mercy, from beginning to end it's "according to your lovingkindness, according to the greatness of your compassion... you are justified when you speak and blameless when you judge." David says YOU'RE RIGHT GOD! YOU'RE RIGHT!
Vs. 5-9 The reality of the issue
1. This is who I am! My DNA is sinful! From my mother's womb! From the moment I was born I've been "in sin."
2. Yet you designed me to be different and require it even now! In my hidden parts, - what was knit together in my mother's womb (Ps139) - in that hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
David knows that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. And so that's where he begins his appeal.
Vs. 7 through 9 are the prescription, the antidote! These are the specifics of his request for God's intervention for David...
Purify me with hyssop - David hearkened back to the Passover and all the cleansing rites from the Torah. The use of hyssop is as old as the Jewish people.
I will be "whiter than snow!" God's invitation to us through Isaiah later would be to come and reason with Him... though your sins are as scarlet, they will be be as white as snow."
Make me to hear joy and gladness.
This isn't a pleasant experience. Probably why so few actually do it!
Sometimes the discipline of the Lord feels like he's broken our bones. David was a shepherd first. And when a lamb would get wayward, go astray habitually, the shepherd would break its front legs and carry it around his neck until they healed.
The picture of Jesus as the shepherd we're all familiar with, had a lamb in such a position. No one talks about the back story! Here David refers to that practice.
Heb 12:6. "The Lord disciplines all those He loves... v. 11... so that we can share in his holiness ... the peaceable fruit of righteousness. "
David cries out to God to Hide your face... blot out my sin and iniquity.
And then the prayer becomes detailed and this is the heart of the request if God. We sang these verses just a few moments ago...
1. Create in me a clean heart. David knew the problem and Jeremiah later tells us it's our heart... it's desperately wicked. It's like stone according to Ezekiel. It has to be made new. Re-created!
². Renew a right Spirit within me. We must be renewed by The right Spirit!
3. Do not cast me away from your presence. David knows it's here that the answer is found. It's in the temple, in the presence of God. At the table! Here.
4. Do not take your Holy Spirit from me! A desperate cry. Our cry! God, send your spirit to renew us.
5. Restore my joy. The joy of my salvation. There is no feeling that can compare with being forgiven!
The weight of the world comes off your shoulders. It's amazing...
Amazing grace! My chains are gone! I've been set free!
6. Finally, do this work day by day.. Lord, uphold me with a willing spirit!
Even my willingness has to come from God ... maybe especially my willingness!
THEN... what happens?
Then... Testimony... teaching of the Ways of God and subsequent salvation. Every day God was adding to their number those who were being saved!
Then... Praise! Sounds of singing! More songs from Poet David! Don't you wonder how many of the Psalms came after this?
Then... Restoration. The right order of righteousness and the sacrifices of God are restored. The temple worship is renewed and in order. All is as it was designed and created to be. All is whole.
Let me once again issue the invitation...
I invite you in the name of the church to the observance of a holy Lent...
We have some left over ashes if you were not able to be here on Wed evening.