Psalm 51 (NIV)
For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 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.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
What We Say About God Study Guide | 1
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
In this series, we will be looking at how God chooses to show the world his character through how we interact with each other as a community. This week, we begin with the celebration of life-change that happens when we gather together to worship. As we look at David’s Psalm as a Biblical example of public worship, we focus in on a curious aspect, remorse. We go on to recognize just how critical it is that our absolute need for salvation be a part of our worship.
A confession of faith has little value without a confession of sin; what need do we have for faith if we don’t really need saving? Likewise, without a confession of faith, a confession of sin leaves us swallowed by hopelessness. In one of our greatest celebrations, baptism, we make a confession of faith, but in the same breath, we make a confession of sin. If there is one without the other, there’s no reason to celebrate. But, because of the hope we find in the resurrection, death is no longer the end but the beginning of a life worth living. And in our celebration, we cannot help but reflect the grace and the joy of Jesus to those who still need both. Celebration in the Christian life requires allowing ourselves to be seen as we are so that God can be seen as he is.
Living in community submits to the wisdom suggested by God’s design. None of us reflects the image of God better than all of us can together. Think about your role in God’s community. In what ways can God’s church reflect his image in ways that we can’t alone?
In order to praise God’s grace to the world, we have to reveal to the world why we need it in the first place. Are you ever reluctant to admit to the world, or even yourself, why you are in need of God’s grace? How can that fear impact those who may be watching the church to decide what they’re going to believe about God?
In baptism, we are committing to let the world see us at our worst, but in doing so, we are allowing the world to see God at his best. Take a moment to reflect on your baptism or look forward to the possibility of baptism in the future and what it is that is demonstrated to the world by that act.
Reread Psalm 51:1-11. Think about the place that David is writing this out of, having killed his friend after having had an affair with his wife. Though you may not identify with David’s specific situation, can you identify with the anguish and remorse he’s conveying?
Now reread verses 12-19. Can you relate to the hope David now expresses? Can you anticipate the impact your story can have on others as seen in verse 13?
The point of this psalm isn’t just that we celebrate, it’s that we celebrate in the midst of our failures. Everybody celebrates their victories, but we also celebrate our weaknesses, so that the grace and power of God might be displayed. What, if any, reservations do you have about celebrating your weaknesses?
Celebration in the Christian life necessitates confession. It requires being seen as you are so that God can be seen as he is. Do you have a place where you’re confessing? Are you willing to tell your story, truthfully, so that it can be good news to those who are far from
Praising God should not be a chore. If it is, perhaps it’s because we are feigning delight in something which no longer delights us. And if that’s the case, take some time to remember where we all began and how far God has brought us together, recount how far from God you began before he rescued all of us. Share some thoughts with your group.
Spend some time this week thinking about how we celebrate as a church. What we do impacts what others think about God, and how and what we celebrate is something the world notices. Are you able to celebrate your failures because of the amazing victory God was able to provide from it? If you have never been baptized or participated in a baptism service and seen the celebration of new life firsthand, it’s not too soon to be thinking about taking that step in the spring. Your campus minister would love to walk alongside you now as you discern if that is a right next step for you. Track them down in the Lobby next Sunday or send them an email (Herndon Campus Pastor Garry Abbott, firstname.lastname@example.org; Waterford Campus Minister Sam Arocho, email@example.com; and Lake Mary Campus Minister, firstname.lastname@example.org).