Psalm 51:11 Do Not Cast Me Away

David was always a Yahweh loyalist.  He was single-mindedly devoted to God.  Did he sin?  He most definitely did in some of the most terrible ways.  He was far from perfect, but he always turned his attention to God.  When he sinned, he confessed it to God.  Does that mean that we can willingly sin and automatically get forgiveness for it?  Of course we cannot continue in sin, but if we have sinned we can come to God with a genuinely repentant heart and truthfully confess our sins to Him.  The Scripture promises that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.  When God revealed His name to Moses what did He say?  He said, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, . . .” (Ex 33:6).  David knows this truth as well.  In Psalm 103:8, a psalm of David, he proclaims by unique inspiration of the Spirit, “The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.”

The thing that really shows that David was single-mindedly devoted to God is that he never chased after foreign gods.  Unlike Saul before him who went to find help from a medium or Solomon after him whose heart was turned to foreign gods by his many wives, David was a man after God’s heart.  Psalm 51 demonstrates these realities.  He knew that he had sinned and that ultimately against God only.  He knew that there would be consequences for his sins, so he calls out to God with a healthy fear of His wrath but also with a solid confidence.  Let’s remember the whole of Psalm 51 and its background, yet our focus will be verse eleven today.

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Do Not Cast Me Away
Sin separates us from God.  David feared that he could not approach God in worship because of his sin.  He knew that he could be rejected by God.  The king before him had been rejected.  David could only plead for mercy and that is what he does here.  He had nothing to lose in his mind because God was either going to reject him in order to raise up another king over Israel or God was going to have mercy on David.  Those of you who will not call out to the Lord, for whatever reason(s); you have nothing to lose except your pride.  And what good is pride?  It only isolates you from others and from God.  Call out to Him and find divine forgiveness.

Most of us do not believe in some kind of once-saved-always-saved doctrine.  We believe that the Bible is clear that though someone has come to faith in God, they may turn away from Him and ultimately be rejected by Him.  God is a righteous and holy God.  He is light and there is no darkness in Him at all.  He cannot overlook sin.  It must be dealt with.  David knows these things and he is thus fearful.  He pleads with God, “Do not cast me away from Your presence.”

When I first moved here, I began with a sermon series titled, “My Presence will Go with You.”  In those sermons, we went through the major event of Israel’s history, the Exodus.  In Exodus chapters 32-34 Moses was pleading with God to not withdraw His presence from Israel, to not reject the people.  They had sinned grievously.  Moses knew that God could forsake the people.

After they had sinned by making the golden calf, “. . . the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book” (Ex 32:33).  Moses knew the prospect of divine rejection and, we must say, many were rejected though they were Israelites.

Those of old, even those mighty men called by God like Moses and David, knew that God was/is holy and righteous.  They knew that sin would separate them from God.  All they could do is what Moses did in Exodus 32-33 and what David did in Psalm 51.  They had to call out to God for mercy and ask Him to not cast them away from His presence.

Notice the parallel statements.  The first phrase says do not cast me away, and the second says do not take yourself away.  Both are fitting ways to describe rejection by God.  In either case, David would be separated from God which was his greatest fear.  I cannot help be notice the healthy fear that David has of the Lord.  The Scriptures teach that the fear of the Lord is righteous and good.  Deut 6:13 commands, “You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him . . . .”  Josh 24:14 echoes that command, “Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth . . . .”  Job is commended for being one who feared the Lord.  Psalm 2:11 instructs, “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.  Psalm 19:9 says, “The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; . . . .”  David’s psalm, Psalm 103:17 says, “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, . . . .  It is certainly healthy to fear God.  He is the One who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Do Not Take Your Holy Spirit from Me
The next phrase parallels the first, but is more specific.  That God could remove His Holy Spirit was a real possibility from David’s perspective.  How can I be so certain about that?  David’s predecessor was who?  King Saul came before David, and God took His Holy Spirit from Saul. (1 Sam 16:14)

In verse ten David asked for his human spirit to be renewed which would make it steadfast.  Now in verse eleven he asked for God’s Holy Spirit to stay with him.  The doctrine of the Holy Spirit was not fully developed in the Old Testament, but David knew that he needed the Spirit of God if he was going to continue to stay in God’s will.  The Spirit would not be given internally and permanently until after Christ had been glorified.  We know the same Spirit that David knew.  We are also empowered by the Holy Spirit of God.

What can we take home with us?

Confess your sins. 
Fear the Lord. 
Know that God does reject those who rely on themselves.
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 51:10 Renew a Steadfast Spirit


Week after week, year after year ministers walk into their pulpits on Sunday mornings, and they tell their congregations what they need to do to fix everything. They tell them to take control of their own lives and be all that they can be. They tell you how to live your best life now. They give three steps for this and ten steps for that. Throw a few jokes in and a story or two and this is called great preaching. The largest churches in our country are based on this ideology.

I would rather tell you what God can and will do for you. One of my favorite Bible verses is Romans 8:3; it reads, “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh. . . .” The Gospel tells us, all of Scripture tells us, that we cannot save ourselves. We cannot be born again by our own wills. John 1:12-13 say, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Outward changes are only superficial. Yes, you can get a nice haircut, put on a tie, or spray on some perfume, but God knows your heart. Just before Nicodemus came to speak with Jesus at night, John tells us in 2:25 that Jesus “knew what was in man.” Jesus told the Pharisees in Luke 16:15, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” Anyone can clean up their act for just a while. We are so worried about people’s behavior or appearance, and we should know better. No one can live a godly life, a holy life, unless their minds are transformed. What is it that Romans 12:2 says? “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

For a lasting change we must be transformed inwardly. We must admit that we are poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3). We must repent of our sins and turn to God (Acts 3:19). We must realize our weakness, but know that God is strong (2 Cor 12:10). In all of that it seems that we have a lot to do, but don’t you see that none of it is meritorious. You don’t get any credit for acknowledging you failures or weaknesses. God gets the glory because He does what we cannot do.

Psalm 51 is all about looking to God. In this case, King David is the sinner and must trust that God will forgive, cleanse, and renew him. We know the promise of 1 John 1:9, and I think David knew this fact, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

I would like to spend the next three weeks in this psalm. We will focus our minds on renewal, and hopefully look to God for cleansing, renewal, and vigor as individuals and as a church. We will read the entire psalm, but concentrate today on verse ten only. Next week we’ll look at v11, and the next week v12.

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Background: Psalm 51 notes in the header that this was David’s composition after he had been confronted by the prophet Nathan about his sin with Bathsheba. David had lusted, committed adultery, in essence lied, plotted maliciously, and ultimately murdered another human being. His sins were grievous and gross to say the least. Now we see that his confession poured out of him. I made sure to check 1 Samuel 12 and when the prophet approached David, he did not give him a list of rituals to fulfill or some formula to fix everything. He stated the facts to the king. He stated his sin, directed him to Almighty God, and told him the consequences. The only thing that could remedy the situation would be to turn to God in repentance and confession. That is exactly what David did in this psalm.

Creating a Clean Heart

When the psalmist asks God to create, he asks for a miracle. This is something only God can do. Cleansing involves blotting out the past failures, but also helping to prevent future ones. The stains from our sins need to be cleaned, but we also need a way to prevent future ones. David doesn’t pray to God and say, “Tell me how to cleanse myself.” No, he knows that God can and will cleanse him. Instead he prays, “. . . Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly . . . cleanse me . . . . Purge me . . ., and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. . . . And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God. . . .”

The Necessities

Both cleansing and renewal are needed. This is about spiritual restoration. He may have had a clean heart and steadfast spirit at one time before this sinful event, but he needed restoration. Yet, we can also say that we never stay in that position without God. It is difficult to get back on the horse once you fall off. Getting back in the swing of things is complicated once you’ve had an injury. Once there is a strain, things just don’t feel the same anymore. Cleansing and renewal by God are needed. There is no greater hope in the entire world than what is found in Jesus Christ. He can mend relationships, fix unfixable problems, perform miracles, and forgive sins.

Renewing a Steadfast Spirit

On heart and spirit, see v17. We may not want to admit it, but acknowledging that we are poor in spirit allows for cleansing and renewal. Steadfast combines stability and vigorous activity that produces progress. A steadfast spirit is what this church needs. I don’t think I am alone in this thought either. Are we going to sit back and ponder the glory years of our history or are we going to push forward in faith? Are we going to continue to make progress or live in the past?

Conclusion: A cleansed heart and steadfast spirit will lack all of the weaknesses spoken of in this psalm. We need to be reliable, but also prepared to move into the future. We need to focus on our own stability, but also on progress. The thing about it is, we cannot look to ourselves for the necessary renewal, we must look to God. This is something that only God can do. We can only look to Him, simply admit our weaknesses, and allow Him to work in us.

I don't have any steps for you to follow. I don’t have any specific applications, even though that’s what’s expected. I can only direct your attention to God. I do know this: we need a steadfast spirit renewed in this congregation. I also have a hunch that many of you need a cleansed heart and you, too, need you spirit renewed. The only way this can take place is if God is acknowledged and relied upon in this church.

John 17:20-26 That They All May be One


The Lord Jesus has spent the night of His betrayal with His closest followers.  He has now finished His farewell discourse in the upper room, and has begun His High Priestly Prayer.  He has prayed about His coming sufferings and exaltation, His immediate followers, and now He prays for all future believers.  As we listen in on the last few verses of the Lord’s prayer in today’s passage we will hear Him praying for us.

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The Apostle’s Word Reaches Even Us [20]

Jesus now turns His attention to not only those with Him that night, but to those who will believe in Him in the future.  He acknowledges that others will believe in Him through the message of those men.  You and I are in that category.  We have come to saving faith in Jesus Christ because of the work of the Apostles.  The Lord used them to write the pages of Holy Scripture.  The Gospel message that we have believed is found in the New Testament which they wrote.  So, we have continued in the Apostle’s doctrine even until today.  The doctrinal authority of this church is not the preaching and teaching pastor, but the Apostles themselves.  I believe what they believed, preach/teach what they proclaimed, and follow their practices in the New Testament.

Paul said in 1 Cor 11:1, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”  I would hope that you would follow me as I follow the Apostles.  Learn from my teaching, as I learn from the teaching of the Bible.

What is my point in all of this?  Christ prayed for those who would later believe because of the Apostle’s word.  You and I have believed their message about Christ. So, He was praying for us!

That They All May be One [21-23]

Jesus’ chief concern for you and me in this prayer is unity.  This was His same prayer for the first followers.  What is it that unites us?  At this point He has said nothing about love.  We will get to that in just a little while.  All He has mentioned thus far is the message of the Apostles.  What is their message?  The Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is the Gospel that unites us.  We are all called to believe, obey, and proclaim the Gospel of Christ.  The glory of Christ is found in the Gospel which has been passed down to us.  I’m not sure that we all understand how much the Gospel is worth.  The message of Christ crucified is the greatest treasure in all the world, and we are partakers in it.  The glory that Jesus is talking about is the value of the plan of redemption.  The Father gave this glorious plan of redemption to the Son, and He has accomplished it for us.

The Gospel message of the Apostles and the glorious plan of redemption given to us by the Lord Himself are passed on to us so that we may be one, but there is even more that unites us.  Christ Himself has said that He would be in us.  He will bring us together.  That is how we are made perfect in one.  The unity that the Lord wants to create among believers allows the world to see that the Father has sent the Son and that He loves us.  I wonder if that message is getting across to the world.  I wonder if that message is getting across to our community.  Do they know that Jesus Christ has come to save them because of our unity?  Do they know that the Father loves us because we are united?  I can only hope so, and work to that end.  Jesus prays in verse 23 that we would be perfectly united that is, completely united in purpose and love.

Christ Wants You All to be Saved [24]

Jesus expresses His desires in verse 24, which are no less than the desires of the Father.  He has already prayed that He would return to the glory which He had with the Father before the foundations of the world.  Now He prays that all believers, whether first or last, would be with Him in that place and see his glory.  In simple terms, Christ wants you to be saved.  To be saved is to avoid the judgment of God and escape the tragedy of Hell, but that much more it is the pleasure of being in the presence of Jesus Christ and enjoying the sight of His glory forever.  I cannot begin to tell you the glories that there are to experience in His presence.  He wants that for you!  I want it for myself, and I want it for you as well.

Love and Christ in Us [25-26]

The Lord could not talk about unity and not include love.  Love is the last note of His lengthy prayer for His followers.  On several occasions in the New Testament, love is called upon last like the covering that binds all things together.  The Scripture says that love covers a multitude of sins, and that is exactly what we need for unity.  We need our sins covered, and they are by the blood of Christ and out love for one another.  The Father loves the Son and He loves us. 

Jesus declared the Father’s name to the Apostles and to us by extension.  In doing so the knowledge of God has been declared to us; His person, righteousness, and love.  Christ says that He has declared the Father’s name and that He would continue to declare it.  I interpret His continuing work of revealing the Father to be through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  In this way, believers are indwelt with the love of the Father and the person of Jesus Christ.  In Romans we are told that the Spirit pours the love of God into our hearts.  The last phrase of the prayers is that Christ would be in us.  We can truly unite in the person and work of God.


In this passage of Scripture, the Lord prays for not only His immediate believers who were present with Him at that time, but for all believers, even those in the future like you and me.

We often think that the Bible was written directly to us as individuals, but we forget that the books and letters of Scripture were written to certain groups of people at certain times in history with certain circumstances.  It is our task to learn about those things, and then apply the lessons to our own lives.  We must bridge the gap between Bible times and the contemporary era, yet there is no more direct comment made to future believers in all of Scripture than John 17:20-26.  The Lord Jesus Christ was praying for us! 

Of all the things we can learn from this part of the Lord’s prayer, two points are most important.  Christ wants us to be united and He wants us to be glorified.  He has not only prayed for our unity, but he has shown us those things that will unite us.  Let us look to those things that will bind us together.  In doing so we will find wonderful Christian friendship, a thriving church, and the community will know that Christ has come to demonstrate the love of God.

What unites us?  The Gospel, Christ in us, the love of God, and our love for one another

John 17:6-19 That They May be One


As we open the Scripture today, we must keep in mind that what we are reading is a prayer of our Lord.  He is having a conversation with the Father, and in this passage He is referring to the disciples that He would soon be leaving.  The largest part of the Lord’s prayer in John chapter 17 is devoted to His disciples.  The prayer continues Jesus’ theme in the Upper Room Discourse of preparing those men for His departure.  He had taught them all that He could, and now He prays for them.  On the last night of Jesus’ life on earth, He spends much of His time in prayer.  He prays here in John 17.  We also know that He prayed in Gethsemane.

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They have Believed [6-8]
The Father had given these men to Christ, and Christ manifested the Father’s name to them.  We know that the disciples that the Lord Jesus had gathered to Himself were weak men on several occasions.  Jesus said, “O, you of little faith” quite a few times during His ministry.  In fact, Christ has already predicted that they would desert Him.  In John 16:32, Christ said, “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.”  Yet, Jesus acknowledges their proper response to the Gospel.  They may have been weak, but they had put their faith in Christ.  They may have had very little understanding of the things that He said at first, but they never doubted that Christ was from the Father or that His words were not true.

I Pray for Them [9-10] Care
Jesus states in verse nine of His prayer that His concern was restricted to only the eleven men who were with Him.  At this time, His prayer is not for the world.  You can see the Lord’s great care for His people.  Verse ten shows that the Father and Son share in all things.  God cares for His people and is glorified in them.  We know that God loves the world (John 3:16 “For God so loved the world…”), but He loves His own in an exceptional way.  It is your life that He has re-birthed.  The Father calls you His child.  He has sent His Spirit to dwell in you.  There is nothing that can separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, if you continue in the faith.

That They May be One [11-13] Protection
Throughout the Upper Room Discourse Jesus told His disciples that He would be leaving.  He acknowledges to the Father that He was going back to His previous state of glory.  He asks that the Father continue to protect those who had put their faith in the One who was sent.  The Lord’s keeping of the disciples was to bring unity.  They were to be one, and so are we.  Our culture has promoted independence and privacy, of which I hold near and dear.  Americans have built a great country by working hard, supporting themselves and their own families, and by minding their own business.  To some degree these are Christian principles as well.  But, I must add that Christians are to be loyal to one another.  We are to be uniquely united with one another and devoted to one another in love.  We all bear the same name because we have the same Lord.

Listen carefully, God cares for you and seeks to protect you in Jesus Christ.  He also wants your joy to be fulfilled.  The men were about to face great pressure, persecution, and many problems.  Jesus had kept those men while He was in the world, but now the Father must keep them because Christ was leaving.  Despite their gloomy future, Jesus intended that the disciples be united and He intended to fulfill their joy.  Even in the worst of situations, your joy can be full.

Keep Them from the Evil One [14-15] Preservation
The reason that the disciples could be said to be “not of the world” is somehow linked to them receiving the Word of God.  I think this point is crucial.  What is it that makes you outstanding from this world?  You have received the revelation of God.  You have received, believed, and kept the Word of God, which has at its center the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jesus was not praying that the Father would take His disciples out of the world.  He was praying that the Father would keep them from the evil one.  When we come to the faith, when we accept Christ, we are not plucked out of this world and taken to heaven.  We are left here, obviously with a task to do.  I am convinced that we should use this time as a preparatory period.  We should prepare ourselves for Christ’s return, and we should reach out to others in an effort to prepare them as well.  Christ is confident in His prayer that the Father will keep   He has already prayed for the disciples protection.  Now He prays for their preservation.

Sanctify Them by Your Truth [16-19] Sanctification
We must live in this world, but not be “of the world.”  We are called out of this present wicked age to be sanctified by God’s truth.  The truth that we are called to and made holy by is the word of God.  Sanctification is the progress of the believer’s life in Christ.  It is growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This is done by the truth, the very word of God written on the pages of Holy Scripture, and by the inner working of the Holy Spirit.

The eleven disciples with Jesus that last night had been called out of the world by believing on the Son of God who was sent by the Father to redeem mankind from the curse of sin.  Christ Himself prayed to the heavenly Father in order that His hand of care may continue on them, His arms of protection may continue to surround them, and so that they may be preserved from the world and the evil one.  They would be sanctified by the truth that they had already believed by continuing to grow in a knowledge of it.
We, too, have been called out of this world by believing on the Son of God.  The Father’s same work of care, protection, preservation, and sanctification are also ours in Christ.