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Bible Commentaries

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary
Psalms 52

 

 

Verses 1-9

Shall we turn now in our Bibles to Psalm 51:1-19 .

David is surely one of the most outstanding characters of the Old Testament. He was greatly hated and greatly loved. He had the capacity to inspire tremendous emotions in people, on both ends of the spectrum. He is always talking about his enemies that are trying to do him in. But yet, there was a great number of people who really followed David with a great devotion. David was called a man after God"s own heart. And this appellation was given to David, not because he was sinless, but because his heart was always open towards God. Pliable. God could work with David. God could deal with him. When David was wrong, God could deal with him. Inasmuch as none of us are sinless too, it is important that God is able to deal with us when we are in our faults, when we are in our sins, that we be open to the dealings of God.

The fifty-first psalm has as its background God"s dealing with David concerning his sin. For David, one day while on his roof, which over there they have flat roofs, and they have their gardens and couches and hammocks and all out on their roofs. As he was walking on his rooftop, he spied over on a neighboring roof a beautiful lady bathing. And the lust of David"s flesh got the better of him. He sent a message to her to come on over. She responded, and as the result of their encounter, she became pregnant. David tried to cover it by having her husband come home from the service for a while. But he did not cooperate in that he did not go home to be with his wife during his leave of absence from active duty. So David compounded his sin of adultery by ordering Joab to put the fellow in the place of jeopardy in the battle where he would be sure to be killed. And as a result, he was put to death by the enemy.

And at this time, Nathan the prophet came to David with a parable in which David was the character, only in a different setting. "David, there is a man in your kingdom, very wealthy, had all kinds of sheep and goods, possessions, servants. And next door to him there lived a very poor man who had only one lamb. He loved it like his own daughter. It ate at his own table. The rich man had company come. He ordered his servants to by force go to his neighbor"s house and take away the lamb by force that they might kill it and feed it to his company." David became angry, and he said to Nathan, "That man shall surely be put to death." And Nathan pointed his finger at David and said, "David, you are the man."

The application was very clear. David had many wives, concubines, all that a person could desire. Yet, he took away the wife, the only wife of his neighbor. And upon hearing this, upon the sense of his own guilt, David wrote this fifty-first psalm in which he cries out for mercy. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. Justice is getting what you deserve. He"s got it coming, that"s justice. He has it coming; he doesn"t get it, that"s mercy. And David is crying out now to God for mercy.

Have mercy upon me, O God ( Psalm 51:1 ),

Not according to the fact that I am a good guy and I deserve it, but

according to your loving-kindness: according [to the abundance or] to the multitudes of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions ( Psalm 51:1 ).

David"s prayer for forgiveness, casting himself upon the mercy of God. The Bible teaches us much about God"s mercy. He declares that He is a merciful God; He will abundantly pardon. "According to the multitude of Thy tender mercies," David said, "blot out my transgressions."

Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me ( Psalm 51:2-3 ).

Now David was trying to hide his guilt, but yet, you can"t hide it from yourself. And David speaks about his sin being, "ever before me. I am ever conscious of my guilt." You can"t run from guilt, you can"t hide from guilt. It is there.

David said, "I acknowledge my transgressions." Now you are on the road back. The Bible says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" ( 1 John 1:9 ). But I have to be honest with God. I have to confess my sin. I have to acknowledge my transgression if God is going to be able to deal with me. As long as I am trying to hide my sin, as long as I am trying to justify myself, and this is one of the things that we are constantly having to deal with in our own lives, is that endeavor to justify our actions. But there isn"t forgiveness in justifying your actions. The forgiveness comes when you confess your transgressions. "I acknowledge my transgressions." Good. Now God can deal with it. But as long as you are trying to hide it, cover it, excuse it, God can"t deal with it. So important that we be totally open and honest with God, in order that He might deal with the issues of our lives.

Then David said,

Against thee, and thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight ( Psalm 51:4 ):

God is the one who has established the law. Sin is against the holy law of God, the holy nature of God. Now, if we would look at this, it would seem to us that he had sinned against Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba. It would even seem that he sinned against Bathsheba, inviting her to this kind of a relationship. But David declares, "Against Thee, and Thee only have I sinned and done this evil in Thy sight."

Now, if David had been conscious of God and of the fact that God sees, if he had been more conscious of the presence of God, it could very well be that he never would have gotten into this. I think that one of the real problems that we have is our lack of the sense of God"s presence with us. We forget that He"s right there. Now, we oftentimes do things that suddenly we find that someone was there and watching, and we get so embarrassed because we thought that nobody knew us, or that nobody was watching. And when we suddenly find someone there.

I"ve had occasions in the past to have to make calls on the homes. And sometimes as I would be walking up to the door, I would hear all kinds of screaming and yelling in the house. And then, you know, you ring the doorbell and you hear a flurry of motion and all, and pretty soon the door is open and they see you and they just, you know. There have been times that I never rung the doorbell; I"ve just gone. I was too embarrassed. I didn"t want to embarrass them. And you know, they say, "Oh, you know, we didn"t know it was you." And start into all that kind of stuff. But you see, who am I? Man, I know what it is to yell and get angry. Who am I? What we need to realize is that God is there. "In Him we live and move and have our being," Paul said. We need to become more conscious of the fact that God is with us.

"Against Thee, and Thee only have I done this sin and this evil in Thy sight." God was watching. God knew all about it. David thought that he had cleverly covered his guilt. After all, Uriah has been killed in battle, so who is going to object to David taking a pretty young widow into his harem? After all, her husband was killed out fighting in one of David"s wars. And David thought he had covered his tracks, but God saw. And when the prophet came to him and said, "David, you are the man," David realized that he had not hid anything from God. "I have done this evil in Your sight."

[in order] that you might be justified when you speak, and be clear when you judge ( Psalm 51:4 ).

Now David confesses, actually, the nature of sin.

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden parts thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean ( Psalm 51:5-7 ):

The hyssop was a little shrub that grows over there in the Holy Land and in Egypt, in those areas. And it was the little bush that they used to sprinkle the blood. When in Egypt they were to sprinkle the blood upon the lentils of the doorposts of the house, they used the hyssop bush in the sprinkling of the blood. And so, because it was the little bush that was used to sprinkle the blood, he said, "Purge me with hyssop." That would be referring to the blood of the sacrifice. "And I shall be clean."

wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow ( Psalm 51:7 ).

David"s concept of God"s total and complete forgiveness. And it is important that we also have that same concept of God"s total and complete forgiveness. God said in Isaiah, "Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red as crimson, they shall be as white as wool" ( Isaiah 1:18 ). "Wash me, and I shall be as white as snow."

You know, there is nothing in all the world that can remove your guilt complex like just confessing to God and receiving the cleansing and the forgiveness from Him. Guilt complex is a weird thing. The guilt complex does create a subconscious desire for punishment. That subconscious desire for punishment is manifested in neurotic behavior patterns. The neurotic behavior patterns are designed to bring punishment to you. You start doing weird things. People start saying, "What is wrong with you? Why are you doing that? That is weird, man!" Well, I don"t know why I am doing it, because it is a subconscious thing. I am feeling guilty over something, and I need to be punished. So I am going now into an abnormal behavior that is going to bring disapproval and punishment upon me. And I continue with this neurotic behavior pattern until someone really tells me what a nut I am, how weird, and how I belong ostracized from society or something. And I feel great because they have punished me and I feel the relief of my guilt. But there is nothing in the world like coming to God and letting Him wash you and He takes away completely that guilt complex that has been plaguing you.

David said,

Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O Lord ( Psalm 51:8-10 );

And here is the problem. David is getting right down to the issue, "O God, create a clean heart within me."

renew a right spirit within me ( Psalm 51:10 ).

How easy it is when we feel guilty to have a wrong spirit, a wrong attitude towards the saints of God, and towards God Himself. Because I am feeling guilty, I start sort of closing myself in, and my spirit gets wrong. But renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me ( Psalm 51:11 ).

"The wages of sin is death." Spiritual death--separation from God. "Cast me not away from Thy presence, O Lord. Remove not, or take not Thy Holy Spirit from me."

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with a free Spirit [thy free Spirit] ( Psalm 51:12 ).

So the prayer for the restoring of the joy of salvation. It is amazing the way sin can just rob you. Unconfessed sin can just rob you of God"s joy in your life. There are so many Christians who are borderline Christians. They try to live as close to the world and still be a Christian as they can, and they are always just trying to find out just how close that is. Always experimenting. Just living on the edge. Flirting with the other side. And they have the dilemma of having too much of Christ to be happy in the world, but too much of the world to be happy in Christ. "Restore unto me Lord, the joy of my salvation. And uphold me with Your free Spirit."

Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee ( Psalm 51:13 ).

In other words, once you have experienced the grace and the goodness of God, then you go out and share it with others. "I"ll teach transgressors Thy ways."

Deliver me from blood guiltiness ( Psalm 51:14 ),

This is, no doubt, that being guilty of the blood of Uriah. Actually, David was a conspirator in his murder. Praying now forgiveness from that.

O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise. For you don"t desire a sacrifice; else I would give it: you don"t delight in burnt offerings. But the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: and a broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise ( Psalm 51:14-17 ).

What God really desires is only your being broken over your sin. God isn"t asking or requiring sacrifice. "God, You don"t want sacrifice, else I would give it. But what You really want is just a broken spirit."

Do good in your good pleasure unto Zion: build the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with the burnt offering, with the whole burnt offering: and then shall they offer the bullocks upon your altar ( Psalm 51:18-19 ). "

 


Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.

Bibliography Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Psalms 52:4". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/psalms-52.html. 2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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