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.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
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.