July 26, 2022
• Rev. Dr. Jevon Caldwell-Gross
Our lives would not be the same without her. Her accomplishments have single handedly changed the way some live their lives. She is brave. She is smart. She does not scare easily. She does not panic under pressure.
She has a way to staring down a crisis and coming out victorious. She has adverted national catastrophes. She has saved political careers and ruined others. There was no scandal too great for her. She was a fixer. A problem solver.
People would call her when there was no way out. She’s handled everything from attempted assassinations to dismantling covert organizations designed She was small in stature but a giant in her own right. She came on every Thursday night and had millions of people rooting for her. Famous for white hats and oversized red wine glasses. She is the one and only Olivia Pope! (Slide)
If the name or resume for Olivia Pope does not ring a bell, maybe David’s name will. He def could have used her services. She was needed for times like these.
Because our text takes us to a scandal or one of the lowest points in David’s life. It’s almost shocking considering Davids reputation. David is a song writer. Many of the psalms or songs we have talked about in our summer playlist were written by him. David was an excellent musician. He was masterful at playing the harp.
David could defeat giants when everyone else was afraid to step forward. David was anointed as a teenager. David was from a different cloth. David was not afraid to show how much he loved God. On one occasion, David was Dancing before the Lord and got so happy that he danced right out of clothes.
So the context or the background of this psalm seems out of place. It’s not something we would expect from someone that was so close and connected to God. But that’s why everyone believer in here needs this on your playlist. Have this song somewhere close by. Sooner or later you’re going to blow it. You’re going to create a mess.
I’m glad this is David because it’s a reminder that you can be gifted, strong, successful, express your love to God, serve, teach, and still fall short in some other area of your life. Gifted people screw up too. Faithful people mess up. Anointed people still need forgiveness.
The 51st psalm is a plea for forgiveness and a desire to repent. It is a response to an entanglement that David had thats recorded in more details in 2 Samuel 12.
Some of know the story but just bear with me. David was supposed to go out into battle with his men, but this particular tome he stayed at home. And he sees a woman bathing on a roof top. He sends for her and gets her pregnant.
In an attempt to hide the mess he had just made, he sends for her husband Uriah to come home from the battlefield. Uriah is so faith and loyal that he can’t bare to be with his wife while the other men are out fighting so he sleeps outside.
David’s plan doesn’t work! He didn’t count on Uriah being such a man of integrity. But David has another plan, he made arrangements for Uriah to be sent to front lines, ensuring his death. Uriah dies. Problem solved. Situation handled. Problem averted. A page right out of Olivia Pope play book! Whew! Close call.
For nine months David says nothing. The baby is born and David goes in about his life like nothing ever happens. But for 9 months, David does not write a single psalm. Playlist goes silent. But it’s really hard to be delivered from the things I’m afraid to confront or admit. God loves us enough to bring certain things to the surface not to embarrass us but to free us. (Slide)
It wasn’t until Nathan comes to David and tells him about a rich man that stole something from someone else that David gets up and arms and demands this guy be out to death until Nathan says, “Guess what, you’re the man!” And that’s when it hits him. It hurts. He cries. God loves us enough to bring certain things to the surface not to embarrass us but to free us. In light of that David writes this Psalm.
True repentance begins with an acknowledgement of the role played in the situation. (Slide) It’s less about showing emotion than it is about taking responsibility. It’s taking ownership. Listen to David’s words in the Psalm. Listen to how he owns it. Hes honest about “my” mistakes. “My” transgressions. “My” sins. “My” inequities. I did it. It’s my fault. I messed up. I fell short.
What’s the temptation? The temptation is either to share the blame or point the finger. Because it’s always easier to assign blame than it is to own it. If “It’s your fault” was song, it would be played out. That’s not what David does. David takes full responsibility for every single of if those decisions. David didn’t ask for God to change Nathan. If Nathan would have been minding his business none of this would have ever came out. He didn’t ask for God to change Bathsheba. He didn’t ask God to change nobody else but himself!
David could have blamed it on the pressure if being King. If God had not created me this way. If Bathsheba had not been bathing on the roof. If Uriah would have just did what I wanted him to do. If my men would have begged me to come. If they. If they. If they. If they. Repentance always begins with taking responsibility.
I can not be the recipient of Grace if I’m not the owner of the transgression. We rob ourselves of the chance at mercy and forgives when we absolve ourselves from any and all responsibility. (Slide) The reason we it’s so hard to ask for forgiveness is because it requires the finger to point inward. Grace is for the one responsibility. Mercy is for the one at fault. I can not be offered something that I’m not willing to own. David’s owns it. What is God asking you to own today? Not what was done to you? Not what they said? Not what your parents didn’t do, but are their areas where God wants you to own? Not to embarrass you but to move to a place of confession and healing.
Because that my friends is freedom. Because if we are always placing the blame on others, then we have to depend on their transformation for a different outcome. That’s a lot of power to give people! But acceptance is taking responsibility and reclaiming power over the outcome of our lives.
David could not change Bathsheeba. David could not change Uriah (he already killed him off). He could not change the outcome. But David new the one thing that could have made this difference was himself!
Quicker Picker Upper
Notice David’s request when he admits ownership. Not only does he have a remorseful response but there are some things that David wants from God. We see that clearly in verse 10. David wants God to give him a clean heart and renew a right a spirit with him. He knows he’s messed up and he wants to make things right. David doesn’t to be in this situation again.
Don’t make light of his request. Because the response is not a given. He didn’t ask God to fix the problem. He didn’t ask God to delete the consequences of his actions. He didn’t ask God to clean his reputation or save his kingship. He has to fix “him.”
It’s semantics, I know. But it makes the world of difference. There is a difference between cleaning up my mess and changing my behavior. (Slide). That’s why some people can be in relationships with different people and have the same problems. Different church. Same issues. different job. We simply walked away from the mess without changing our behaviors.
Here’s a great example of our understanding of grace and forgiveness (video). Bounty is great at cleaning up messes. It’s what they do. They come behind us and clean up our spills. Let’s do a poll. How many can attest that Bounty has at some point in your life cleaned up a mess you’ve made? Bounty is so great, it doesn’t take a whole lot. Few sheets, few swipes and it’s gone….
And thats what many of us want in God. The temptation that exists for David is the same one that exist for us. We want to a quicker picker upper. That’s what David wanted for those 9 months. We love a God that can clean up a mess. We want a God that wipes away every trace of our transgressions. We love a God that can right our wrongs. We subconsciously evaluate the power of God and Grace based on how well the mess has been cleaned! Grace does not mean we won’t have to live with the consequences of our decisions. (Slide).
One of the most difficult things we will have accept is not only Gods capacity for Grace but our capacity to get it wrong. At some point we get to a place where we realize what we are actually capable of doing….For better or for worse. David was capable of leading a nation and leading a cover up. He was cable of writing music and creative havoc. Both can be 100 percent.
It’s when David realizes the capabilities of his depravity that he desires a new heart. Because even if God cleans up the mess that’s just a temporary solution. Anybody can clean up your mess. Olivia Pope can clean up a good mess. A good PR firm can do that. You got some friends and crazy cousins that will get the job for you no questions ask.
But we always find ourselves in similar situations and cycles because the mess was cleaned but the behavior or heart was not changed. David wasn’t as concerned about the consequences as he was about getting right with God again. The need for forgives is not synonymous to a desire for change. (Slide) David wasn’t just sorry, he wanted something different. Some of us have been praying for forgiveness but to yearning for anything different.
But if David can pray that prayer and put that on his playlist, it means You are more than your worst day. (Slide). Let’s take another look at this to see if we have the facts. Remember this is the same David that stole. Lied. Murdered. Deceived. Manipulated. Abused his power. Schemed. If this was today, David would have been canceled immediately. It would have been on TMZ. I think in some ways we find entertainment and intrigued in the downfall in others. How many of us have been at the line at the grocery store and seen these (National Inquirer Clips.). Do u know why they still make them, because people still by them. Do you know why people still buy them, because it’s easier to look at other peoples’ mess and forget about our own.
Here’s why this is important. Because the King before David, Saul, also messed up. But he showed very little remorse. He was not interested. It became a defining moment of his leadership and walks with God. In fact, here was Gods response, Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. (1st Samuel 15:28) slide.
The difference is not the gravity of their mistake or failure, it was in their willingness to be different. To receive grace. To embrace Mercy. To have a change of heart
The temptation after every mess is the believe that Gods grace is not sufficient for this. It’s the belief that this decision will be the defining moment in our lives. But it doesn’t have to be, if we decide we want hearts to be clean and renew our relationship with God. As if to suggest that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.
It’s possible for someone that has made such a complete mess to have a clean heart. It’s possible to have really bad season and give yourself grace to still show up. It’s possible for Gods hand to still be on you. David can’t hide! His real courage wasn’t just facing giants, but it was facing the people, facing himself, and facing God after a really bad season.
Our great fear is that we will be defined by those moments. Our greatest fear is that we won’t be able to live it down or let it go. Our fear is that we are no longer worthy. That’s the song that keeps playing in our heads. It’s the song that just has all our mistakes and failures on repeat. Every time we meet someone we hear the lyrics. Every time something good happens, the song comes on. The hardest part of embracing Gods redemption is not just asking for it, but living like it!
There’s a book that always struck me. It was called the Scarlet Letter. In the book, the townspeople found this woman guilty of something they believed she has done wrong. So they make her wear a scarlet letter A on her gown to signify her mess. It was to a reminder to her and everyone else what she had done.
You may not have read the book, but we’ve all lived the story. Because when we mess up that’s what it feels like we’ve made a complete mess. It’s feel like every can see our messes. It feels like every can see the letters.
Some people will only see the consequences of your mistakes and not the change in your heart. Letters. Mess.
We don’t think we are worthy of love because of the letters. We don’t think we are worthy of our gifts. Aren’t worthy of second chance.
There’s no way we can ever be clean! So you know what we do try to clean it off ourselves. We try to atone for the mess we created. We can fix it. We can get it. We will take care.
But there are some things only God can clean. David was asking God to clean what only God could do! Money. Fame . Title. Did he still bear the consequences for years to come absolutely, but that didn’t mean that couldn’t clean his heart or renew his spirit.
David didn’t ask for a clean slate. He didn’t ask for a clean start. He didn’t ask fir a clean record. He didn’t ask for this never be written about or told. No that’s not the kind of clean he didn’t. He asked God for a clean heart.
We place such a high priority in perfection, we forget you can be messy and clean. Courage is showing up knowing you’ve been forgiven while your still dealing with the consequences. Sometimes you’ll have to parent line this. You’ll have to show up at the job like this. Live out your call like this. Because you can be a person that’s imperfect with a clean heart.
Worthy of Gods call. Worthy of God love. Worthy of every good thing that God has.
David asked God for a clean heart.