Echoes From the Campfire

Good people, caught up in bad times.  I’m afraid that’s been the way of the world since the first days.  We won’t see the end of it in our short span upon the earth.”
              –Elmer Kelton  (The Buckskin Line)

    “But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.”
              –Jonah 2:9 (NKJV)
    “You are the man!”  How would you like for a prophet to stick his bony finger in your face and make that declaration?  How would you react?  Would anger seethe within you?  Would you strike out in anger?  Or would you break down and acknowledge the fact that before God you are a sinner?  Look are David’s response in Psalm 51.

    1 – Be gracious to me, God, according to Your faithful love; according to Your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion.
    2 – Wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.
    3 – For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me.
    4 – Against You—You alone—I have sinned and done this evil in Your sight.  So You are right when You pass sentence;
You are blameless when You judge.
    5 – Indeed, I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me.
    6 – Surely You desire integrity in the inner self, and You teach me wisdom deep within.
    7 – Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
    8 – Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones You have crushed rejoice.
    9 – Turn Your face away from my sins and blot out all my guilt.
   10 – God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
   11 – Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
   12 – Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit.  (HCSB)

David realized that the only hope he has is in God.  Right from the start, he makes three requests of the Lord.  He recognizes the need for the Lord’s mercy, or as the HCSB “faithful love.”  He then asks for the Lord to “blot” out his sin.  Then he pleads for God to cleanse him.  There is stain left when we sin, we long to be clean and only God can bring the cleansing that we need.
    David knows he must repent.  “Repentance leads us away from our failures into God’s plan for our tomorrows.” (Wood)  There are several things that we see in this Psalm that happens when we repent.

         1)  A pure heart (vs 10)  Only God can give this:  the work of personal repair lies outside any human effort.  The old heart is too clogged with sin to ever function well.
         2)  A renewed spirit (vs 10) When my conscience is clean, I can live energetically in the face of constant pressures–God gives a steadfast spirit.
         3)  Presence with the Lord (vs 11)  David knew the sting of banishment from Saul’s court.  He wants no exile from God.
         4)  Infilling of God’s spirit (vs 11)  The Spirit struggles with us while we are in sin.  He did not cease His faithfulness in convicting us of sin; now, He comes to indwell and empower us for service.
         5)  Restoration of joy (vs 12)  Joy in God vanishes during our season of sin.  When we repent, God puts the lift back into our hearts.
         6)  Readiness to please God (vs 12)  The forgiven person needs no external compulsion to do good, but desires a willing spirit to serve God.  (George O. Wood)

    Many might say that they are too sinful to go before God, and they are correct if they do not get the sin taken care of.  It is at a time such as this that we must go to God in repentance.  We fall before Him realizing that we cannot do it within ourselves, we must have God.  “This kind of prayer requires a certain kind of God.  No man will go to God just because he knows how poor he is in sin, unless he knows how rich God is in mercy.” (David Redding)  God is full of grace and mercy; He is longsuffering and kind; He is faithful to us and loves us despite our failings.  Yet it is up to us to call upon Him.
    There is one more thing I see in verse 12.  I have to think that David was a “New Testament” man.  Notice his cry, “Restore the joy of my salvation”.  He doesn’t say, “save me again,” but he realizes that the joy is gone.  He is down and out.  Then he asks for a willing spirit to obey.  Obedience to the will of the Lord brings joy.  Repentance restores joy.

         “Lord Jesus, you see that I patiently wait;
          Come now, and within me a new heart create;
          To those who have sought you, you never said, ‘No.’
          Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
                  –James Nicholson