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Saturday, December 5, 2020

Pastor ?Nelda’s Notes: God’s love …

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This text is one that should be handled with care. It is not one to be read lightly, and certainly not one to be preached on lightly. The voice in Psalm 51:1-12 is one of desperation, which could very well echo the voices of desperation among the listeners. {{more: continue …}}
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The speaker in this Psalm feels he is worthless, the stain of sin felt so deep that it cannot be removed. David feels beyond mercy, and yet prays this prayer of desperation to the one from whom mercy is assured. Here is where we find the word for those in despair: despite our conviction that we are beyond mercy, the God who is mercy has bound to us eternally.
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The text begins with a cry for mercy and is rooted in the speaker?s prior experience of who God is. The speaker is calling on God?s love, “the overflowing, eternal love that a mother has for her child. Both of these refer to a love that can be counted on, rooted in, and rested in. The speaker knows who God is, and pleads for mercy from within the fold of God?s never-ending compassion.
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David also seems to fear that sin has irreparably broken that unbreakable bond. ?Against you, you alone, have I sinned,? the psalmist writes, addressing God. We have all sinned, and all sin is a betrayal of God?s love for us. Such a betrayal is so terrible that the psalmist is convinced that God would be justified in removing His divine presence from the sinner, and the speaker pleads with God not to cast him away. The psalmist?s pleas for God to ?blot out my transgressions? and to ?hide your face from my sins?. These statements are rooted in the fear that if God sees the depth of the betrayal, that is all that God will see. It is saying, ?Look at me, see me, your son, not the sin that I have committed.? Sin, in the psalmist?s understanding, is a deep-set stain on the soul, which only God can make clean.
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“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean” is referring to a cleansing ceremony. Just as one with leprosy or a similar disease is exiled from community, the psalmist believes that the sin he committed justifies his exile from God?s presence. The speaker is longing to be cleansed, so that communion with God can be restored.
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?Let me hear joy and gladness. Let the bones that you have crushed rejoice?. The separation that sin has caused in the relationship between God and David has drained all joy from the psalmist?s life. We find joy in God?s ?salvation?, in the communion with God from which David feels he is exiled. Only when the soul has been purified, when God creates an ?a clean heart? in the sinner and ?a new and right spirit? can the joy of salvation be restored.
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The words of Psalm 51 are the desperate words of one who feels cut off from the presence of God. The psalmist here is broken by guilt and sin and is pleading with God for restoration. There are many among our congregants who share such brokenness.?
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God is calling us back to right relationship with Him. Repentance is not the path that leads to restoration. Restoration comes when we are freed from the guilt that has for too long crushed our bones. The word that Psalm 51 offers to the desperate is the reminder of the nature of the God to whom we pray: abundant mercy and steadfast love, a God who is eternally with us and for us, with the endless love of a mother for her child. The God with an everlasting love that will never abandon us, no matter what our guilt says. Abundant mercy and steadfast love not only heal us of the stain of sin but also of the lie that we are worthless. Who among us doesn?t need to hear that word?

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See you on Sunday!
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“I don’t know how, but I know WHO!”
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Peace,
Pastor Nelda

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