Psalm 51:1-12 Overcoming Sin and Sorrow

Psalm 51:1-12             Overcoming Sin and Sorrow                         WC McCarter
Chapter 12 of The Story puts sin and sorrow on full display for all to see. Much of this David brought upon himself, but there were also sorrows that came from outside threats that were not directly connected to the king’s sin. The chapter opened with the account of David’s sin with Bathsheba.
This was a righteous and godly man, David, who had it all. He was now the most famous man in all of Israel, the most powerful, and the wealthiest. Yet, on one particular day, all that God had given David was not enough. You see, when you start to become unsatisfied in what God has given you, you are greatly vulnerable to temptation. You know the story, but let me jog your memory. During the spring of the year, when kings go off to battle, Israel’s king was at home in his royal palace. With that nugget of information we can already see that something is suspect. David woke up from a nap one day and went out on the roof of his palace to overlook all that he had built and accomplished. He could see a woman bathing, and he did not turn his eyes away from her. Instead, in his lust, he calls for her to be brought to him, even after he had been told that she was married. He coveted his neighbor’s wife. It appears that he slept with her that very day and she conceived. That sin (and let me say that the people of God are to be sexually pure; apparently Christians have forgotten that) of adultery led to the sin of David causing another person to become drunk, and it also led to the sin of murder as David called for Uriah to be killed in battle. Can we also add that David sinned by lying for his cover-up story? Lust, covetousness, adultery, drunkenness, dishonesty, and murder are all wrapped up in this one event found in chapter 12 of The Story. David was the instigator of all this sin, and there were consequences. The child conceived in adultery died seven days later. David’s family began to fall apart: his son, Absalom, started a rebellion against David and his daughter, Tamar, was raped by her half-brother. David was not allowed to build the Temple either, which was one of his life’s dreams. David brought it all upon himself. We bring challenging times upon ourselves so often as well. Have you sinned in such a distinct and destructive way? Maybe you have, but maybe not. Have you sinned and brought trying times upon yourself and your family? I am sure that you have. I know that I have. How do you overcome your own sin?
Part of the crumble of David’s family was seen in the rebellion of his son, Absalom. Surely Absalom and others sensed weakness in David as he mourned over his own sin and the death of the baby conceived with Bathsheba, but there is no direct link between David’s sin and Absalom’s rebellion. So, let us consider the sorrow caused by the rebellion to be outside of David’s control. In other words, David did not directly bring that sorrow upon himself. Absalom began to politically sway the people of Israel away from his father, David, and to himself. He persuaded the people for about four years. He set himself up as king in the city of Hebron and continued to gain an increasing number of followers. David got word of this threat and fled. Absalom even slept with David’s concubines as an act of betrayal. Finally, David’s men crushed the rebellion and Absalom was killed in battle. When David got the news, this is what we are told: “The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: ‘O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!’” At times sorrow comes upon us by no consequence of our own.
The question that I would like for us to begin to answer from Psalm 51 today is, how do you overcome sin and sorrow? To be more elaborate, how do you overcome your own sin, and also, how do you overcome the sorrow that comes upon you simply by virtue of living in this fallen, rebellious world? There are things we bring upon ourselves and there are things that come upon us by no seeming fault of our own. Let’s look at Psalm 51:1-12 found on pages 163-164 for some answers.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Psalm 51 was written by David when the prophet Nathan confronted him about his sin of adultery with Bathsheba. David’s world had started to come crashing in on him. How would he respond when confronted by his own sin? Would he answer like the first king, Saul, with excuses and lies? Or would he seek restoration with the Lord? In his act of confession and repentance, the Holy Spirit uniquely used him to pen for us the means of overcoming sin and sorrow. I will give you three components that will enable you to overcome: utter dependence, total surrender, and complete confidence.
Utter Dependence (1-2)
We can say first that whether you overcome or not depends upon your relationship with God. Do you belong to Him? Do you trust Him to take care of you? David begins his prayer with an appeal to the mercy of God. He showed utter dependence upon the God of his salvation. He did not deserve God’s forgiveness. Only God can blot out transgressions, wash away all iniquity, and cleanse a person from their sin. Only God. David tried to fix his problems on his own, didn’t he? How did that work out? The situation got worse and worse. David utterly depends on God to restore their relationship, to repair his reputation, and to remove the sin now on his account.
Total Surrender (3-6)
In the next paragraph, David totally surrenders to God. He owns-up to his own sins. It takes a real man to do such a thing. It is the natural thing (in our fallen state) to do what David had done before: try and fix the problem on his own because he was not willing to admit his wrongdoing. Yet, to overcome sin and sorrow, a man or woman must confess their own sin. Not only must we confess our specific sins, but we must also admit our own weaknesses and overall shortcomings. Had David’s sin only affected himself? Of course not, he also sinned against Bathsheba, Uriah, the baby conceived, his family, and his nation, but ultimately his sin was against God. God is holy, righteous, just, and perfect in all His ways. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. David had sinned against Him.
Complete Confidence (7-12)
Of course this last point leans heavily upon the first point, but David now looks more to the cleansing he needs on the inside. You must have complete confidence in the cleansing work of God (let me say specifically, in the cleansing work of God in Christ). David is completely confident that he can overcome his own sin and sorrows because God never does a job half-way. God can restore someone’s relationship with Him, their reputation in a society, and remove sin from their account. And He can do far more than that! He can create a new heart within a person. He can plunge to the depths of us and renew a steadfast spirit.
Conclusion and Christian Application
This psalm is a song and prayer for repentance. The main points of this sermon from Psalm 51 are a detailed description of repentance. This is how you overcome sin and sorrow. You must utterly depend on God because whether you overcome or not depends upon your relationship with Him. You must totally surrender, confessing sinfulness and rebellion. Lastly, you must live with complete confidence in the cleansing work of God.
These are great examples of how to overcome those things that you bring upon yourself and those things that come at you by no fault of your own. Does this mean that it will be easy to overcome your sins and sorrows? It certainly does not mean that. It will be difficult no matter what you do, but this will determine whether you will overcome or not. If you do not utterly depend on God, totally surrender to Him, and put complete confidence in His cleansing work, then you will be destroyed by sin and this present wicked age. When you receive forgiveness from God will you still have to deal with the results of sin? Yes, sometimes you will. David was forced to mourn the death of his baby. He also had to accept the fact that God would not allow him to build the Temple. Maybe you have found forgiveness for some sin in your life and you cannot figure out why you are still paying for it. It is because we live in a fallen world.
Let me assure you of this, though, there will be no eternal consequences for your sin if you put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. If you submit to His saving work and His lordship, you will one day be completely and forever cleansed from the sins and sorrow that haunt you. You can overcome now for brief periods of time, but with one challenge after another. This life will always be a struggle because after you overcome one thing it will be followed by another. Yet, there is coming a day when the world will be purged from all of this sin and sorrow, the old sin-nature will no longer be able to haunt us, and Satan will be cast into the lake of fire. The world will be renewed and we will live in Christ’s glorious presence forever. Until that day, keep fighting to overcome your sin and sorrow with the design of Scripture such as Psalm 51.