Psalm 51:1-19 NIV Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar. (emphasis mine)
A Cry For Forgiveness
In this Psalm David prays for remission of sins which he confesses fully. This is the fourth and most profound of the Penitential Psalms. The depth of individual experience, the sense of sin, and the plea for forgiveness are unsurpassed in any other psalm.
it describes a worshiper who goes to the Temple for pardon and cleansing.
Whether David composed the poem or not, his experience seems to have occasioned it.
The Psalm has four major points which serve as a model for us when we confess sin and pray for restoration of the fellowship that God wants us to have with Him.
A Cry for Mercy.
Have mercy on me, O God. David openly admits his sin. He accepts all responsibility. He doesn’t blame anybody else. He also admits that he doesn't deserve forgiveness so he pleads for mercy. That mercy is based on God’s loving-kindness. He asks that his sin be wiped out and washed away.
Micah 7:18-19 NIV Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
Isaiah 43:25 NIV “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.
A Confession of Sin.
For I know my transgressions. David emphasizes the fact that he knows and is constantly aware of his sin, and acknowledges that his sin is more than sin against man. In fact he says that he knows that is sin is against God. The depth of his confession is apparent in his desire to be completely open with God regarding in despondency because of his sin.
A Plea for Cleansing.
Cleanse me... wash me. The verbs are extremely significant. David starts by asking for i external cleansing. Cleansing with hyssop and washing are related to ritual acts. He then shifts to an internal cleansing. He asks for a new heart and renewed spirit.
Ezekiel 36:26 NIV I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
A Vow of Consecration.
Then will I teach. David vows to to testify to others as evidence of God’s forgiveness and his changed nature. He acknowledges that his sin requires more than the ritualistic burnt offerings.
Psalm 50:9-11 NIV I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine.
Instead of ritual David offers his broken spirit and contrite heart.
A Prayer for Restoration.
Then you will delight. David says that after offering his broken and contrite heart then God will accept his ritualistic sacrifices. This appears to place an emphasis on works being a requirement of sacrifice. We know that after Jesus’ sacrifice works is no longer a requirement, but a result of forgiveness.
Titus 3:4-7 NIV But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Psalm 131:1-3 (HCSB)1 LORD, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I do not get involved with things too great or too difficult for me.2 Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself like a little weaned child with its mother; I am like a little child.3 Israel, put your hope in the LORD, both now and forever.
Sustainable Change In The New Year
The beginning of each New Year often brings with it people being challenged to make resolutions about things in their lives that need changing. Psalm 131 illustrates where true change comes from.
Hope for change outside of self
The first point is found in verse three. David says, that the hope, which is the earnest anticipation that comes with believing something good. Hope is a confident expectation that naturally stems from faith. Hope is a peaceful assurance that something that hasn’t happened yet will indeed happen. This hope comes from abiding with the Lord.
John 15:4-8 (NKJV)4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
This hope for change is found in relationship. Your relationship with Jesus.
The motivation behind New Year’s resolutions is the hope for change—to develop and grow in some area of your life. This hope is not wrong, but as a starting place, it will always leave one feeling empty. David, in Psalm 131, offers the greatest starting point for change. Our hope in the Lord and His steadfastness leads us to the best place possible. We become completely dependent upon Him.
A humble heart with a humble outlook
The second point is in verse one.
Psalm 131:1 (HCSB)1 LORD, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I do not get involved with things too great or too difficult for me.
David is talking about a heart that has been humbled. If our hope is in Christ and we abide in Him, then our perspective on life is fixed on Him. We see ourselves in proper perspective, which means we see God’s work in our lives through His eyes. Our goals and pursuits are filtered through God and His glory.
True change comes only through Christ. To look to ourselves, others, or to self help books and tools is doomed, in most cases to failure. As you come up with resolutions for change, ask yourself if it is for God’s glory and purposes in your life or for some other reason. (See Set Goals For 2019 That God Will Bless)
A quiet and content heart
The third point is found in verse two.
Psalm 131:2 (HCSB) Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself like a little weaned child with its mother; I am like a little child.
This verse is the focal point of change. We need the ability to quiet ourselves. We want to be able to interject into the middle of a situation to bring about the necessary change and make a resolution to solve it. Most resolutions for change are driven by such a motive. The desire to transform and alter a current reality as simply as David puts it in verse two is very appealing.
David’s ability to quiet his soul isn’t based on any ability of his own. It comes from his hope he receives from abiding in the Lord and His faithfulness. This hope leads to a humble heart with a humble outlook. From here David is able to quite himself to the point that he describes it as being like a child in his mother’s lap.
Christ has already accomplished for us what we could not do on our own. Abiding in Christ and humbling will give us the power to change, which is what we want to do when we make New Year’s resolutions. Seeking to change any other way is unsustainable.
Psalms 88:1-18 ERV Lord God, you are my Savior. I have been praying to you day and night. Please pay attention to my prayers. Listen to my prayers for mercy. My soul has had enough of this pain! I am ready to die. People already treat me like a dead man, like someone too weak to live. Look for me among the dead, like a body in the grave. I am one of those you have forgotten, cut off from you and your care. You put me in that hole in the ground. Yes, you put me in that dark place. Your anger presses down on me like a heavy weight. It’s like one wave after another pounding against me. Selah You made my friends leave me. They all avoid me like someone no one wants to touch. Like a prisoner in my house, I cannot go out. My eyes hurt from crying. Lord, I pray to you constantly! I lift my arms in prayer to you. Do you do miracles for the dead? Do ghosts rise up and praise you? No! Selah The dead in their graves cannot talk about your faithful love. People in the world of the dead cannot talk about your faithfulness. The dead who lie in darkness cannot see the amazing things you do. Those in the world of the forgotten cannot talk about your goodness. Lord, I am asking you to help me! Early each morning I pray to you. Lord, why have you abandoned me? Why do you refuse to listen to me? I have been sick and weak since I was young. I have suffered your anger, and I am helpless. Your anger covers me like a flood. Your attacks are killing me. They surround me on every side. I feel like a drowning man. You caused my friends and loved ones to leave me. Now darkness is my closest friend.
The Darkness Of Despair
Psalm 88 is the prayer of an individual completely engulfed in gloom and despair, The kind of prayer that a person in this condition is call a prayer of lament, a prayer in which we are open with God, we “let it all hang out”, we stop “faking fine”. When we’re open with God, in prayer, about our feelings of sadness, or frustration, even anger our prayer is one of lament. (see This Thanksgiving Stop Faking Fine). Lament is an expression of grief or sorrow. This is not a prayer for the super-spiritual. Lament is a prayer for all of us.
The time when you had no idea how you would pay the mounting medical bills. The appointment where you learned it was cancer. The officer at your door with a bowed head and a tragic report. Your first Christmas without him or her. Have you ever found yourself in that kind of moment?
In your moments of greatest desperation, you’ll discover that you can depend on Jesus. Desperation fosters dependence. So run to Him.
Cry out for Him. You’ll find a friend who sticks closer than a brother. You’ll experience a peace that surpasses your understanding. You’ll climb into a strong refuge and a safe hiding place. You’ll get to know Him as Immanuel, “God with you.” And you’ll learn that He can be depended on when you need Him the most.
Psalms 142:6-7 ERV Listen to my prayer. I am so weak. Save me from those who are chasing me. They are stronger than I am. Help me escape this trap, so that I can praise your name. Then good people will celebrate with me, because you took care of me.
Editor’s Note: Some content from Desperate for Immanuel by Kyle Idleman, from his book Not A Fan
Psalm 23:1-6 NIV The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
We Are Co-Heirs
At salvation you become a co-heir with Christ, and as a co-heir the house of the Lord becomes your home.
Psalm 23:6 NIV Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Romans 8:14-17 NIV For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “ Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
John 1:12-13 NIV Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
Matthew 25:34 NIV “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
Galatians 4:7 NIV So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
Look at David’s confidence as he declares, “I Shall Dwell.” He understood this was not a temporary visit, but that he would be at home “In The House Of The Lord.” He knew he was moving into what Jesus called “My Father’s House”
John 14:2 NIV My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?
The Bible gives us many clues about heaven, and they all add up to this great idea: We’re going home! We will finally be where we were designed to spend eternity.
1 Corinthians 2:9-16 (NKJV)9 But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him."10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
God has already given us much information on what heaven will be like and he asks us to walk by faith. It will be without tears, sorrow or pain; no disease or death, without wrong, injustice, fraud, and sin. It will be pure and holy; a place free from evil.
Heaven was made for God’s children, and we were made for it. What Revelation 21:1 calls “A New Heaven And A New Earth” isn’t some alternative plan God worked out when humans fell into sin. Heaven was the plan and destination for believers all along.
Revelation 21:1 NIV Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
This last word just might be the best word in the whole psalm: “Forever.” Life on earth is short, and the deadline is coming fast. Eternity is racing upon us. Soon the clock will stop, and time shall be no more. As John Newton’s old hymn “Amazing Grace” says so beautifully, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, / Bright shining as the sun, / We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise / Than when we’d first begun.”
No relationships are more important than the relationships at home. And if you'll dedicate the time and equip yourself with the necessary tools, you can see these relationships grow stronger day by day. Because no matter what condition your family is in, no matter how your spouse feels about your relationship, it's never too late to break new ground and start doing things God's way.
Father, Thank You For The Hope And Comfort It Gives Me When You Say Your Children Will Live In Your House Forever. Help Me Rejoice In Your Plans Even When Mine Are Different Or I Don’t Understand Yours. Thank You For Always Being Good And Merciful. Thank You That I Can Trust You While I Walk Through This Life, Eager For The Day When I Get To Go Home And Be Finally And Forever With You. Thank You For The Gift Of Your Son, Whose Sacrifice Makes This Possible. It’s In His Mighty Name I Pray, Amen.
Editor’s Note: Some content taken from A Prayer For Home by James MacDonald. Also see Heaven...What...Where...Who Has Been There?
Psalm 116:1-19 (NLT2)1 I love the LORD because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.2 Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!3 Death wrapped its ropes around me; the terrors of the grave overtook me. I saw only trouble and sorrow.4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: “Please, LORD, save me!”5 How kind the LORD is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours!6 The LORD protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and he saved me.7 Let my soul be at rest again, for the LORD has been good to me.8 He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.9 And so I walk in the LORD’s presence as I live here on earth!10 I believed in you, so I said, “I am deeply troubled, LORD.”11 In my anxiety I cried out to you, “These people are all liars!”12 What can I offer the LORD for all he has done for me?13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and praise the LORD’s name for saving me.14 I will keep my promises to the LORD in the presence of all his people.15 The LORD cares deeply when his loved ones die.16 O LORD, I am your servant; yes, I am your servant, born into your household; you have freed me from my chains.17 I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.18 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people--19 in the house of the LORD in the heart of Jerusalem. Praise the LORD!
A Song Of Personal Thanksgiving
I love the Lord.” What a beautiful way to begin a praise, a new day, each moment of our lives! And then the psalmist begins to tell us why:
Psalm 116:1 (NKJV) I love the LORD, because He has heard My voice and my supplications.
He preserves and saves;
Psalm 116:6 (NKJV) The LORD preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me.
Psalm 116:8 (NKJV) For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from falling.
He sets us free.
Psalm 116:16 (NKJV) O LORD, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my bonds.
But it’s the heartwarming promise found in verse 2 that gives us a glimpse of the personal relationship God so longs to have with His children, because He bends down to listen.
Psalm 116:2 (NLT2) Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!
What a beautiful image, the almighty God — Lord and Ruler of All — bends down to listen as we pray. Just imagine… God not only invites us to pray whenever, wherever, and about whatever we want, but He leans over, to get just a little closer, to make sure He doesn’t miss a word of what we have to say.
Holy Father, just the thought of You bending down to listen to me fills me with awe and joy and praise. Thank You for loving me so.
Excerpted with permission from God’s Promises Every Day by Jack Countryman
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.