Restore to Me the Joy of Your Salvation

December 31, 2021

Pastor Gunnar Ledermann

Psalm 51

Psalm 51

He got a job making deliveries. He quickly became known as one of the best delivery drivers they had. Then, a report came in about him delivering a package that had been tampered with. A customer had ordered an expensive workout bike, but the box they received contained an off-brand bike. So, the company reviewed the footage from the delivery truck camera, and sure enough, the delivery driver switched out the expensive bike for the off-brand. The next day, the delivery man was called into his manager’s office to watch the tape. After watching, he turned to his manager expecting to be fired.

The heading for Psalm 51 reads, “For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.” The account of David and Bathsheba is recorded in 2 Samuel 11-12. Here is a quick recap. David was king of Israel and married, but one night saw Bathsheba, who was also married, bathing and had her brought to the palace to sleep with her. She becomes pregnant, so David tries to make it look like her soldier husband was the father, but he stayed with his troops while on leave instead of going home. So, David has his army leader put Bathsheba’s husband on the front line in battle, where he was killed. Then, David took Bathsheba home to be his wife. After all of this took place, we read in 2 Samuel 11, 27 … “But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.”

David thought he had gotten away with all of this until God sent the prophet Nathan to David to tell him a story. Nathan told David about a rich man with many sheep and cattle who stole a poor man’s one and only little ewe lamb to serve it to a traveler who came to visit him. After hearing the story, we hear in 2 Samuel 12, 5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” 7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! When David was confronted with his sin, he had no excuse, he feared punishment and death, and he had only one hope.

The opening lines to Psalm 51 reveal the only place sinners can go to escape punishment. God’s mercy, love and compassion are the only hope for sinners like David, you and me. David identifies God as the only hope for sinners because we were all sinful from conception and our sins are always before us. Throughout the Advent season, we were reminded of John the Baptists’ message to prepare the people for Jesus’ coming. In Luke 3, we hear the focus of John’s message was repentance, 3 “He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”

As we close out another year to begin another, it is good to be reminded that your life as a believer is one of repentance. Repentance has three parts. First, confess, admit, recognize and own your sins, their terrible nature, need of punishment and your inability to get rid of them. Second, trust in God alone for forgiveness through the gift of faith from the Holy Spirit. And, third, to leave sin behind and follow God’s will with a thankful heart filled with faith and love for God. Psalm 51 has all three parts of repentance beginning with verses 1-5 as a confession of sins.

Before I read those verses, you and I must realize that we are the delivery driver. You and I are guilty of taking for granted the blessings God has given us and stealing blessings from others. Throughout the past year, you have not been satisfied with the good things God has given you, so you have put your time and effort into getting things that God does not want you to have. You have also taken blessings from others by not showing them mercy, love and compassion. Instead, you have been judgmental, selfish and impatient. If you were called into God’s office to watch back the last year, there would be many moments that would leave you feeling like God should fire you from being a believer.

You and I with David must confess our sin.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,

    according to your unfailing love;

according to your great compassion

    blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash away all my iniquity

    and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,

    and my sin is always before me.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned

    and done what is evil in your sight;

so you are right in your verdict

    and justified when you judge.

5 Surely I was sinful at birth,

    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

After the delivery driver and his boss finished watching the tape together, he lost his delivery job. But his boss did not fire him from the company. Instead, he allowed him to stay on and work the cash register. His new job would consist of selling stamps and taking people’s packages out in the open with other cashiers around him and still on video surveillance. He could not believe that his boss allowed him to stay with the company. He was so thankful and full of joy each day that he had been shown mercy.

After the prophet Nathan exposed King David’s sin, God showed him mercy. We read in 2 Samuel 12, 11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’” 13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.” For David’s sins, God would have been justified to take the kingdom from him that moment, strike him dead and send him to hell. Instead, God gave David consequences for his actions, but allowed him to continue as King, he allowed him to live many more years, he took away his sin and kept him in the faith so that he went to heaven. Plus, he kept his promise that the Savior of the world would come from one of his descendants.

After considering the many sins of your past year, the consequences they have brought are overshadowed by God’s mercy. Verses 6-12 of Psalm 51 reveal God’s mercy in many ways.

When you foolishly wander back to the same sins, God teaches you wisdom.

When your dirty thoughts, words and actions stain your reputation, God washes you clean making you whiter than snow.

When sorrow, loss and sickness brought you to your knees, God heals your heart to again feel joy and gladness.

When you have sinned in public and you fear they are more permanent than something etched into stone or recorded by the internet, God promises to hide and erase your sins.

When your sinful nature fights on against God and pulls you away, God creates a new spirit in you and sends the Holy Spirit to keep your faith strong. And your faith is the guarantee of your forgiveness because it trusts in the salvation won by Jesus. His coming to this world to suffer for our sins and give us his perfect record of righteousness has saved you. Like King David, you and I rely only on God’s forgiveness.

6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;

    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

7 Cleanse 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 Hide your face from my sins

    and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,

    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me from your presence

    or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation

    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

When people come into the delivery store, they are surprised by one of the employees behind the counter. The former delivery man greets each customer with a smile and offers the best service, whether they are buying a simple roll of stamps or trying to send multiple packages of all sizes and weights, both across town and internationally, paying for some with cash, some with a check and some with a card, and asking for the boxes to be taped up or for new boxes because one of the fruit cakes started to melt and ruined one of the boxes. He loves his job, and now you know why. His boss showed him compassion and his thankfulness affects him each day. His thankfulness leads him to show mercy, love and compassion to customers and to his coworkers.

Reading the words of Psalm 51 reveal King David’s heart of repentance. You can see in these words that the man who committed terrible sins, trusts in God alone for forgiveness and now prays that God would work in him a heart that flees temptation and eagerly serves God.

Your life is different because God has forgiven you. Your life of repentance is not simply repeating the words, “I have sinned, please forgive me for Jesus’ sake.” God is at work in you now to live for him. You are called to teach others what you now know. You are to show them their sins and show them their Savior. You are to call others to repentance. You are called to praise God with joy and thankfulness for giving you a future in heaven, protecting you from sin, evil, death and hell, for giving you a family of believers who will call you to repentance with mercy, love and compassion. And as you consider New Year’s resolutions, stop thinking about what you want, and consider what God wants. He wants your broken spirit so that he can forgive you. He wants your thankful heart so that you pause often to thank him for his blessings and to give to others from your joyful heart. Brothers and sisters, with a repentant heart praise God in the New Year each day saying with King David, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” Amen.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,

    so that sinners will turn back to you.

14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,

    you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

15 Open my lips, Lord,

    and my mouth will declare your praise.

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;

    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;

    a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

18 May it please you to prosper Zion,

    to build up the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole;

    then bulls will be offered on your altar.

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