Psalm 51 holds a very special place in my heart, and I will be spending more than one day trying to go through this amazing portion of scripture. But first, I want take the time to tell you why this psalm is so meaningful to me.
As many of you probably know, David wrote this Psalm after it was made known to him that the affair he had with Bathsheba, which caused David to arrange for Uriah’s death, was a sin against God, and not just an act against Uriah. You can read the whole account in 2 Samuel 11-12. It s a low point in David’s life, but as always David does the right thing and repents and this Psalm was his psalm of repentance.
In 2003, it was discovered by my daughter that I was involved in sexual sin. Not an affair or anything, but internet pron had captured me, and I was caught up in many things that were despicable. She alerted our Pastor, who called me and my wife into his office quickly. Now to add to this, I was the worship leader at the church, and filled in preaching when Pastor needed to be gone. I was also on the deacon board, and no one had a clue I had the problems I had.
My pastor’s plan was to attack it head on. Of course, he pulled me from any ministry at the church until there was a real sign of change in my life. He met with me every morning to pray before work, and we spent countless hours at the altar of that church praying through to victory. About three weeks into this time, he told me to memorize Psalm 51, and I set out to do that. It pierced me to the heart as I started to let it sink in. And we gained victory – for a while.
I actually started back into ministry with worship and fill in preaching, but slowly drifted back down into the cesspool again. I couldn’t tell anyone – I was too ashamed. But in spring of 2008, it was discovered that I was misusing company computers to fill my desires, and I was immediately let go from a job I had for 20 years. My wife was furious, my pastor was shocked and extremely disappointed. He was ready to kick me out of the church, and my wife wasn’t sure what do.
After doing some research, my pastor found a place called Pure Life Ministries in Dry Ridge, Kentucky. They had a resident program for men just like me. Men who were in ministry but got caught u in sexual sin. My pastor told me either I go there, or I never set foot in his church again. So my wife and I decided I would go. It was a minimum 6 month commitment, and we needed $3,000 u front to even get it going, which we did not have. But friends and family came through, and we figured out a budget my wife could live on and made the plunge.
Pure Life Ministries is an amazing place, and I am not going to spend a lot of time explaining the program, but let me just say that they really never dealt with the sexual sin. They dealt with pride. Pride is at the center of any sin, and especially this one. So the counselors and all the teaching (church 7 times a week, studying out of 3 books at a time) and the work we had to do all was in place to strip us of the pride that had led us to sin.
Psalm 51 was on my mind the whole time I was there. I remember one particular night I could not sleep. I was distraught with my sin and myself. I wandered out on the ridge behind all the buildings. At the end of the ridge, just before the trail went down into the woods, was a life-size cross where we could to to pray. I knelt down at the foot of that cross, weeping from my innermost being, and slowly recited this Psalm that my pastor had so wisely asked me to memorize 5 years earlier. It shook me to the core, and took about 20 minutes to get through between the tears. My life changed that night.
As we go through Psalm 51 over the next few days, I hope I can convey the depth of despair and contrition that David must have felt, and that I know I felt, when this Psalm was worded. It will be a memorable journey.