1 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Grace and Peace to you from Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ;
At our house we don’t really watch television. However, we belong to Netflix and once in a while we get a disk of older TV shows. So many people were talking about that medicial show “House” I thought it was time to check it out. So we got a couple of them to watch in the mail. I find these shows very interesting. And I often wonder what the effect of Dr shows on television has been. You know I worked in a hospital for ten years, it was not really like this show or any other I’ve ever seen. I know they have to make the shows interesting but the problems are always the most grave, the most severe, life and death issues. You never see this scene. Phil is nervously sitting in his doctor’s office. The doc is looking over his charts.
“Well, Phil I’ve got really bad news for you. Your case of athletes foot is going to require you to use this ointment for three whole weeks.”
No the TV scenes go like this…
“Phil, there is nothing we can do… you’re heart is just too far gone. Your only option is a heart transplant, and there are no donors available that fit you blood type.”
That’s life on television.
Well, how about you. How serious is your condition. Do you need a heart transplant? Does your heart suffer from a disease that is slowly killing you? Well that’s how the writer of this Psalm talked. That’s how he saw his heart, even though he was a man of great wealth and power. even though he was a man after God’s own heart. David, the King of Israel, tells us about the corruption of sin in his own heart. And the title even tells us when he wrote the psalm. “A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.” When Nathan accused him of murder, David looked at himself, and what he saw caused him to cry out for God’s mercy. He knew that he deserved only death from God. He had indeed done great evil in God’s eyes. Uriah the Hittite was dead as surely as if David had plunged the sword in his heart himself. David had killed him to cover up his affair with Uriah’s wife. When the accusing finger pointed to him, when the Law was spoken in its needed severity, what David saw in himself was more than just the sin of one act. He saw a heart that was totally corrupt, from top to bottom, from its beginning, from its very conception. David saw his sick heart and knew that it had nothing in it that would ever be able to make it clean on its own. The King looked into his own heart and saw the blackness and evil.
At first after Uriah was dead, after Bathsheba had moved into the palace, David actually thought he had gotten away with the sin, the adultery and murder. But, God was biding his time. He waited a whole year or more before he sent the prophet Nathan to accuse David. When he did, David was cut to the core. Death pointed a bony finger right at David’s black heart and said, "You are the man! You are guilty of adultery and murder and conspiracy. You are caught in your sin, you must die!” David was past all hope. There was nothing he could do.
But, there was a chance for salvation; David knew that his only hope was to appeal to God’s undeserved love and mercy. He could do nothing to help himself. When David was confronted with his sin, he saw his black corrupted heart. He saw that what he needed was a new heart; a clean heart; a pure heart. "Rip out this old corruption." He said and "Create in me a clean heart! Oh, God! A heart that has no sin, a heart that loves you fully, a heart that only does what is your will! A heart that will lead me to you and not to death." This Psalm that we repeat here in worship so often was David's cry for mercy to the Lord; the God whom David knew to be full of "unfailing love."
Well, we can always cluck our tongues at David. After all just look at what he DID! But, we must remember God’s law points the bony finger of accusation at our hearts too. We have sick and sinful hearts, corrupted from top to bottom. If we honestly look at our own lives we can see very clearly that all too often we are ruled by the same blackness, the same corruption that ruled David’s life. Most of us aren't guilty of the gross sins of David we haven't had an illicit affair, or directly caused someone's death. Maybe we don't even shoplift, cheat on our taxes, or tell those little white lies that we hope make us look better or smarter to other people. But, Jesus made it very clear,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28, ESV)
He could have said it like this too ladies, “any woman who looks lustfully at a man has done the same thing.” Here Jesus is the one who condemns us all. “It doesn't take the action to be guilty.” he says, “the guilt lies with in your corrupted, blackened, sinful hearts.”
Right before that Jesus talks about being angry.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:21-22, ESV)
Our guilt isn’t here (in our hands) our guilt is here (in our hearts) and here (in our heads) It is in our thoughts and desires. Adultery is more than action, theft is more than physical, murder is more than blood stained hands. We stand with David, "You are the man." Sin was a part of his life and it is a part of ours. Our guilt is certain. Death, our just punishment, according to God himself, points its bony finger at us and threatens us. Our first reaction is to justify ourselves. I have my reasons for hating that person. I’m just too week to resist the temptation to lust after women. I can’t help it I’m genetically predisposed to be a drunk.
Actually you can usually tell when people are coming up to the full realization of the law that condemns them. That’s just unrealistic. That’s just old fashioned. It doesn’t technically include what I do.
We will do anything to avoid the realization that we deserve only one thing from God, punishment.
Our only hope is to turn to God in the hope of His unfailing love and mercy. With David, this Psalm is our cry for mercy too. “Rip out this old corruption! Create in us all clean hearts! Oh God!”
And God answers our prayers. God answers our cries by drowning us. “Wash away my iniquity and cleans my sins.” David wrote. And that’s exactly what God does. He uses a cleansing, renewing water that is poured on us, dripping down onto our corrupted lives and washing away that blackness that is there, and drowning that old dark heart… and there in its place He places there a new heart, a clean heart, a pure heart, a perfect heart… in fact He places there the heart of Jesus. And Jesus heart is not like ours. His heart is spotless and pure, and full of the God’s love for us. We see that great love in all that Jesus Christ did for us. When God demanded death for corrupted hearts Jesus stood in our place. He loved so perfectly that He suffered and died for corrupted hearts. His clean a pure heart took on our sin and with its very last heartbeat drove away sin’s punishment forever. It was an exchange. Jesus Christ took our blackened heart’s punishment on his pure, clean heart that we might take his clean heart for our own.
We need new hearts… we are given the heart of Jesus. His clean, pure and perfect heart is ours by grace… that is because of God’s great, undeserved love for us. It is ours through faith when we hold on to what God tells us is true and believe it. That faith looks to Him for cleansing when we are weighed down by guilt… that faith looks to Him to wash away the blackness that we see in us whenever we look at ourselves carefully… that faith trusts Him to “cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That faith is what brings us here to this house of worship to receive what God has to give us again. Here we remember that great Heart Transplant whenever we hear the Name of God. “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The very words used at our Baptism, when God drowned out our heart and gave us his own. That faith… is very evident in the words of David. “Wash me and I will be whiter than snow." David saw his own sinful heart, but he knew that God, and only God, could cleanse it. He believed in God’s promise to do just that, through the Messiah to come. We too, gather together to call on God to wash us and make us “whiter than snow.”
Life is a struggle, every day we are confronted by our own imperfection. Every day we struggle to not be self-centered. Every day we fight the sinful urges that come up from our blackened hearts. When we read David’s Psalm we see that he struggled just as we do. We may be tempted to think that his sins were greater than ours. But, the truth is that we are all cut from the same mold. We are all capable of exactly what David did… and even more, our thoughts make us just as guilty of them as he was. God’s law crushed David. The finger of death and punishment pointed at him, he turned in faith and repentance to God looking for mercy, and that’s just what he found.
Our sins crush us, too. God’s law tells us that we deserve death and punishment. “Create in me a clean heart, Oh God.” We shout to God in faith, knowing what he has done for us; knowing his promise that he will cleans us “whiter than snow;” knowing that our old heart is drowned and Christ pure heart beats in its place.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.