This psalm is for the guilty. The author, David, is writing a journal entry after he has forsaken all he knew was right. David acted on his lust and committed adultery with another man’s wife. If that was not enough, he had the husband killed to cover up the fact that he got the woman pregnant. David’s heart had grown cold and desensitized to his wrong doing. Yet, God grabbed his attention causing him to see his destructive pathway. What you read in this psalm is the expression of a person guilty, crushed, and broken.
Brokenness comes from guilt (51:1-5).
David cried for mercy, begging God to wash away his sin. His failures haunted his heart and mind. He understood that his actions offended a holy God, he was guilty.
Most people try to avoid feeling desperate and helpless. Vulnerability is not easy when there are few people you can trust. However, it is at this point in our life when we experience brokenness or can become vulnerable that we can actually achieve the most growth. God waits for us to get to this point because it is at this time when we realize our need for him. God does his greatest work with broken people.
Guilt leads to repentance (51:6-12).
David’s knew where to go after his failure. Many times people allow failure to define their future. David confessed his sin, turned from it and begged for God’s cleansing grace.
Students often experience guilt from actions or attitudes they feel sorry about. However, the next step after guilt is what defines their maturity. People can stuff away guilt or completely ignore it, or they can allow it to lead to repentance; a complete turning away from the wrongs. God wired us this way that we might act on guilt the proper way.
2 Cor 7:10 “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
Repentance turns to worship (51:13-19).
David’s receiving of forgiveness turned to praise and delight in God. Those who are broken from great sin understand the depth of God’s grace after repentance (Luke 7:47). Following repentance a person is cleansed, forgiven and restored to fellowship. God lifts your head up to remind you that you are still one of his children. He has not forsaken you. This realization can bring tears of relief, joy, and celebration. This is what worship is all about. Praise to a merciful, loving God.
TAKING IT HOME
· Read Psalm 51. What words capture your attention? Why?
· What does it mean to be broken? Have you ever experienced this in your life? When do you feel most broken?
· How can guilt be a good thing?
· Explain Psalm 51:16-17 and why these are key verses.
· What is your typical reaction when you realize you are guilty?
· Who can you talk with about feelings of guilt and brokenness?
· Why is repentance the most important step following guilt?
· Read Luke 7:36-47. How does this story relate to worship?