Sermon Title: Have Mercy On Me, O God
Text: Psalm 51
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, . . . Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. . . . Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. . . . Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. . . . (Psalm 51:1-19).
Psalm 51 is one of the most famous of all the Psalms, perhaps because we’re drawn to David’s emotional rawness and vulnerability. According to tradition, he wrote this Psalm after Nathan had come to him and convicted him of the sins he had committed against Bathsheba and her husband, but especially against God.
In the sermon Sunday we reflected on what this Psalm teaches us about the ugliness of sin and what it does to us. We considered how David’s response models how we should feel when we rebel against God’s will for us. And we emphasized the beauty of a “broken and contrite heart.”
Sometimes our hearts need to be broken, and we need to acknowledge the secret sins of our own hearts. God often waits to bless us with healing and freedom until our hearts are truly convicted. And then, of course, he showers with his grace.
Here’s the outline of the sermon:
- Call it what it is.
- Notice the words David used to describe his sin: “transgressions,” “iniquity,” “sin,” and “evil.” In other words, he didn’t mince words.
- Take personal responsibility.
- Notice how many first-person pronouns David used: “me,” “my,” and “I.” He didn’t try to shift the blame to someone else.
- Ask God for forgiveness.
- Resolve to use past failure for future ministry.
Notice particularly verses 13-15.
- How can our class pray for you or a friend or loved one tonight?
Start Reading(read Psalm 51)
- What is the background of this Psalm? Does your Bible contain the superscript concerning when it was written?
- Perhaps you don’t want to share the specifics, but can you share generally with the class a time when God convicted you of sin in your life and you could relate to what David is feeling when he writes this?
- Notice the four points at the bottom of the left column, and discuss these questions:
- How are we tempted to rationalize our sin by calling it something other than what it is?
- How do we sometimes shift the blame for our sin to someone or something else? (Remember Adam and Eve?)
- Why is it important for us to actually ask God for forgiveness?
- How does God use our sin (and his forgiving it) to equip us to serve others?
- When is the last time you asked God to convict you of sin? How can we all commit to praying that prayer this week?
- For parents, how do we handle our sins with our children? How open are we with them about sins in our lives? How do we determine how transparent to be?
- In what other ways has God used Psalm 51 to cause you to commit to specific changes in your life?
Start Praying(ACTS acronym)
- Adoration: Praise God for his patience and grace.
- Confession: Confess to God that we so often sin against him and stubbornly refuse to admit it.
- Thanksgiving: Thank God for being so willing to forgive us in Christ.
- Supplication: Pray that God will convict every member of this class with the awareness of the sins in our lives.