(PSALM 51)




1.      Today we’re going to look at a story about a man of God who "blew it" in a big way. He committed sins that you simply wouldn’t expect a good man to commit. And it wasn’t one of those cases where he accidentally committed a sin before he realized what was going on. No, he put a great deal of thought and effort into committing his sin, and then he went to even greater trouble to cover his sin. In fact, the events in his life read more like a Oliver Stone script than a Bible story. When the smoke finally cleared, two people were dead and two families destroyed. However, the most amazing fact about this story is that this didn’t ruin the man. He was able to recover from his mistakes and get back on his feet.


2.      You might have already guessed: the man I’m talking about is King David. He’s the same one who as a teenager killed Goliath, and later wrote the most recognizable passage in the Bible, "The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want."


3.      This is the story. One evening, King David had a hard time going to sleep, so he went out on the balcony of his palace to take a walk. Off in the distance he saw a beautiful woman named Bethsheba taking a bath. When he found out that her husband, Uriah, was a soldier and was away at war, David sent for her and seduced her. Sometime later she told him that she was going to have a baby. In an attempt to cover his tracks, David had Uriah brought in from the battlefield for a time of "R&R". David suggested that Uriah go home and spend time with his wife. Uriah politely refused; going home to his wife during a time of war would have been an act of disloyalty to his fellow soldiers. Since Uriah couldn’t be persuaded to compromise, David sent him back to battle with a letter to deliver to the commanding officer. Uriah didn’t know it, but he was delivering his own death warrant. The letter told the CO to put Uriah on the front lines and withdraw the other troops so Uriah would be sure to die. This is exactly what happened. Uriah was killed in battle and David married Bethsheba.


4.      No one in Israel knew the story behind the story, but the Bible says, in 2 Samuel 11:27 that…The Lord was very displeased with what David had done.


5.      It wasn’t long before a prophet named Nathan confronted David with his sin. David knew that he had done wrong, and I’m sure that deep down he knew he couldn’t get away with it. To make matters worse, David and Bethsheba’s newborn child was very sick, and Nathan said it was all David’s fault. He said to David, "Because of what you have done, this baby is going to die." Imagine how David felt about that! He couldn’t hide it any longer. He had blown it in a big way, and now it was time to face the music.


6.      David did face the music. He made things right with God and got his life back on track. At some point during this time, he wrote Psalm 51. This Psalm is all about "What To Do When You’ve Blown It." We can learn from David’s example how to make things right whenever we make a little or big mistake. When that happens, we often make the mistake of thinking that God hates us because of what we’ve done. The truth is, He loves us no matter what. When we sin, even when we sin big, He wants to forgive us and help us get back on our feet.






1.      In the first two verses of Psalm 51, David begs for forgiveness, then says…


*  (v. 3-4) For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.


2.      David was guilty and he knew it. He couldn’t deny his wrongdoing any longer. He could only confess to God and ask forgiveness.




Not to long ago basketball star Dennis Rodman made the headlines when he kicked a cameraman during a basketball game. Luckily for Rodman, he escaped criminal charges and got by with just an 11 game suspension and a $200,000 payout to his victim. A few days after the incident Rodman discussed the event in an interview, and his attitude reflected anything but a change of heart. In fact, he insisted that what he had done wasn’t all that bad. He said that he himself was the victim in this whole ordeal, since he was being forced to pay money only because he’s rich. After all, he said, he just gave the guy a little tap. He must have forgotten that everyone saw the footage of the assault. The bottom line was, even after the payout and the suspension, Dennis Rodman didn’t believe he had done anything wrong.


3.      We’re often that way about our own sin. We try to justify it and pretend that it’s not so bad. We try to explain why it isn’t really sin. As long as we keep this defiant attitude we can never get completely right with God. Getting right with God requires a change of heart.




Jim Bakker’s book is titled "I Was Wrong." In the book, he admits not only to moral failure, but also acknowledges that he led many people astray by teaching theological error. He describes himself during that time of his life as ambitious and self-serving, and considered himself above consequences. When he wound up in prison—alone, broke and abandoned, he experienced a change of heart. He reached a point where he was truly sorry for his sins.


4.      When we stop protecting our sins, and confess them, we not only regain a better relationship with God but we also feel better about ourselves.


5.      In Psalm 32, listen to the inward struggle that David went through while protecting his sins.

*  "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer" (vs. 3-4).


a.       Due to his unconfessed sins, David was miserable.  It sounds as though he was depressed and guilt ridden.


b.     But a dramatic thing happened in (v5).


*  "Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin."


6.      Once David admitted to God that he was wrong, and that he had sinned, he experienced inward healing.  His guilt was taken away.  He received forgiveness!


7.      Likewise, we can experience inward healing, and feel better about ourselves if we would just stop hiding behind prideful hearts and openly confess our sins to God. 


8.      If we want to get our lives back on track, then we must first change our hearts and confess our sins to God.




1.       Have you ever noticed that we gladly take credit for our accomplishments, but we often blame our failures on extenuating circumstances? For example, how many times have you heard someone say something like, "I’m sorry I lost my temper. It’s because I’m so tired…or I’m under pressure…or you were getting on my nerves.


2.       Our natural tendency is to blame someone or something else whenever we fail.  It’s not always easy to accept responsibility for our failures, but we have to if we want to get our lives back on track. We have to change our mind about who is in control of our life. We have to stop blaming others and accept responsibility for our actions.




In 1980 New York City Mayor Ed Koch appeared on a local news program in the middle of the city’s financial crisis. Koch had spent over a quarter of a million dollars to put up bike lanes in Manhattan, and they turned out to be a disaster. Cars were driving in the bike lanes, pedestrians were walking in the them, and bikers were getting crowded out. It was a mess and many people in New York were irate about it. Koch was coming up for re-election, so a handful of journalists cornered him on this show, planning to tear him to pieces for spending money foolishly when the city was nearly broke. One reporter said, "Mayor, in light of the financial difficulties New York City is facing, how could you possibly justify wasting $300,000 on bike lanes?"


The stage was set for a half-hour confrontation. Instead, Koch said, "It was a terrible idea. I thought it would work, but it didn’t. It was one of the worst mistakes I ever made." Then he stopped. None of the other journalists knew what to say or do. They were expecting him to squirm and make excuses, but he didn’t even try. The next journalist stammered and said, "But Mayor Koch, how could you do this?" Koch said, "I already told you. It was a stupid idea. It didn’t work." Then he stopped. There was still 26 minutes left to go on the news show, and the reporters had to find something else to talk about. The last thing they expected that day was for the mayor take responsibility for his actions. Ultimately, of course, Koch went on to receive both the Democratic and the Republican endorsements for re-election.


3.       The principle here is that we have to change our mind about who is in control of our lives. We cannot blame our sin on anyone else. We cannot blame our sin on the Devil.  We are responsible for our own lives. It does no good to say, "I am a victim of my environment, or a victim of my circumstances, or a victim of genealogy, or a victim of bad luck."


a.       David could have said, "It was Bethsheba’s fault—look what she was wearing at the time." Or he could have blamed God. Or he could have blamed his others wives (yes, wives—he had hundreds of them) for not being sensitive to his needs. He could have placed blame in several different areas, but he realized that it was now time to take responsibility for his actions and take back control of his life. That’s why he said…


*  In (vs. 4) of Psalm 51, "Against you, you only have I sinned…"


4.       David was saying, "I am responsible for my actions. I can’t blame anyone but myself." Getting back on track requires a change of heart, a change of mind.




1.       David’s life got off track because he started doing things his way and going his own direction. Suddenly, he recognized that things had skidded out of control, and that he needed to make things right. He also realized that he couldn’t do it without God’s help. Listen to his words…


*  (v. 7-12) Cleanse me…wash me…blot out all my iniquity…create in me a clean heart…renew a steadfast spirit within me.


2.       We can mess things up on our own without anyone’s help, but it takes an act of God to get us back on track. We must depend on Him to cleanse us, and wash us, and forgive us. Too often we are guilty of trying to clean ourselves up and make ourselves "good" so that we will be acceptable to God—and that is simply not acceptable to God! There is only way I can come to God—"Just As I Am." When we come to Him this way, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1John 1:9).


3.       Getting back on track requires a change of direction—where we stop going our way and start going His way. And what does it mean to "go God’s way"? It means that we…


a.      Spend time alone with God on a consistent basis. David said, "Do not cast me from your presence" because he recognized that spending time is what gives our lives direction.


b.     Be filled with the Holy Spirit. David said, "Do not take your Holy Spirit from me," because he recognized that we need the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives to overcome the power of sin.


c.      Ask God to give us a sense of joy. David said, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation," because he recognized that a relationship with God is supposed to make you happy, not miserable. We can’t get back on track if we think that serving God is torture.

d.     Ask for the power to be consistent. David said, "Grant me a willing spirit to sustain me," because he recognized that we can’t be changed if we’re not willing to be changed on an on-going basis.


e.      Look for the chance to help others. David said, "Then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will turn back to you" because he recognized the Good News is worth sharing with others.



1.       A change of heart. A change of mind. A change of direction. Do you know what all of this adds up to? Repentance. When we blow it, we need to repent. Some people think that repentance is feeling guilty, but I’ve got "bad news" for those people: feeling guilty isn’t enough. There’s more to repentance than just feeling bad. Of course, when we sin we do feel guilty. That’s natural. But if you feel guilty too long, you haven’t really repented. Repentance removes guilt. When David asked for God’s forgiveness he also asked God to restore the joy of salvation. Repentance results in joy. If you’ve blown it, you need to get past feeling guilty and get back on track. Ask God to help you change your heart, and change your mind, and change your direction.


2.       "If you have blown it," this morning you can make things right with God and your fellow man.  By repenting of sins, and being baptized for the forgiveness of your sins, you can walk out of this place today a new, regenerated, revived, refreshed, and reinvigorated, man or woman of God.  If the Lord is urging you to come forward, don't turn away, come now as we stand and sing.


 Sermon adopted from Ministry Now by Stephen May