A Few Thoughts on Psalm 51

Signpost

I was a blind man stumbling
But now I see
-Burlap to Cashmere

I love maps. I like to see where I am in the context of the country around me. The sobering fact is that I am not the center of the map no more than the earth is in the center of the universe. More often than I’d care to share, I do act as if I believe that I am the center of everything. Referring to Tozer¹, I forget to think rightly of myself because I have shifted from rightly thinking about God. I don’t believe I am a god just as I don’t believe other people are little gods and goddesses running around, but in the course of it all, there still is in this body of flesh, sinful from birth², that which rails against the sanctifying work of Christ. Once I was a slave to sin, but now, happily and joyfully, I am a slave of God³.

The most wonderful thing about knowing what you truly are is knowing that any kindness and mercy received from the God of the whole universe is how low He condescends to lift you out of the mire and how badly you needed His rescuing.

Looking at King David, who in Psalm 51 goes weeping before God in light of his adultery and ordering the murder of the husband of the woman with whom he committed the adultery, there is a picture of one who knew rightly of what he was, a transgressor, a sinner, a rebel. To be those three things, requires one to transgress, sin, and rebel against someone. In Psalm 51:4, David, wrote, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (ESV). David repents, knowing he sinned and who he ultimately sinned against. In verses 12-13, the contrition leads to David requesting restoration with God. “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.” I personally ache with the sweetness of the gospel which permeates this whole passage. Sin, conviction of sin, repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation.

The most wonderful thing about knowing what you truly are is knowing that any kindness and mercy received from the God of the whole universe is how low He condescends to lift you out of the mire and how badly you needed His rescuing. With John Newton, the converted slave ship captain, who once nearly perished in a gale, I can say with conviction and gratitude: “I once was lost, but now am found– was blind, but now I see.” Thinking rightly of God, by default, is thinking of one’s self in the right light. It’s like looking at a map with a flashlight in the dark to see the work of the cartographer’s hand and a compass to know by which direction you must go. I love maps.


¹ The Knowledge of the Holy, Ch. 1: Why We Must Think Rightly About God (A.W. Tozer)

² Psalm 51:5

³ Romans 6:20-23

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