Sunday Sermon: ‘Plenteous in Mercy’

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A Prayer of David
Psalm 86:1  Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy.  2  Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee. 3  Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily. 4  Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. 5 For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. 6 Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. 7  In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.

The title of today’s message is ‘plenteous in mercy.’ Where would we be if the Lord was not plenteous in mercy? The word mercy means to have pity upon someone and therefore show kindness to them. In other words, being concerned for their needs. I am happy to tell you that the Bible says this concerning God’s mercy –

  • Great in mercy
  • Rich in mercy
  • Abundant in mercy
  • Tender in mercy
  • His mercies are new every morning
  • They are everlasting and sure
  • They are as high as the heavens
  • Fill the earth
  • God delights to show mercy
  • It is the basis of our hope and trust in Him
  • We are encouraged to plead for mercy in our prayers
  • Rejoice in His mercy in our worship
  • Ready to extend mercy in our living
  • “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy”, the Lord says.

David, the author of this psalm, experienced the mercy of the Lord numerous times in his life. In Psalm 86 he is pleading for the Lord to be merciful to him and save him from his enemies. There are other psalms, such as the one we will study today, where David asked the Lord to be merciful to him by forgiving him of his sins.

In 2 Samuel 11, we read of a dark time in David’s life. He, who was once called a man after God’s own heart, has allowed himself to fall into great sin.

2 Samuel 11:1 And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem. 2  And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. 3  And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? 4  And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her…

As you continue to read 2 Sam. 11, you see that David committed the sins of lusting, adultery, deception, hypocrisy and eventually murder. All of those are terrible sins, but perhaps the greatest sin David committed was what he did to the name of the Lord. In chapter 12 we find these words as a part of Nathan’s rebuke – “14  Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme…” i.e. – ‘You have given God’s enemies an opportunity to speak evil against Him.’ Unfortunately more than one Christian has allowed themselves to fall into sin and as a result, caused those who are non-believers to question the goodness and greatness of God.

The question we must ask is how could something like this happen to a man like David? And even more so, could it happen to us? David loved the Lord. He is the one who wrote, ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.’ (Ps 23) And in Ps 27 – ‘One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.’ God had done great things in the life of David. How then could this have happened?

I believe it all boils does to this – David had begun to take his relationship with God for granted.

2 Samuel 11:1 And it came to pass …when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and …David tarried still at Jerusalem.”

Did David still have to go out into the battles? Surely his commander Joab could handle it for him. David has fought his fair share of battles and now in mid-life, it was time for him to focus more on taking care of himself. Only God can say if David should have been out in battle, however, it seems apparent that the Word of God wants us to know that there was a battle going on in the fields and David was lounging back at the palace.

I won’t say that it was David’s staying at home that got him into trouble, but rather his straying from God. Sometimes, when we grow accustomed to something, we begin to take it for granted. Success in David’s life was producing complacency and complacency was producing coldness and coldness was producing callousness. The Bible warns us against the danger of spiritual callousness.

The book of Hebrews is a letter written to Christians who were struggling in their walk with the Lord. They were being tempted to stray and five times in this letter they are warned about spiritual drifting. In chapter three we read the second of these warnings –

Hebrews 3:12  Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13  But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

The writer is encouraging them to examine their spiritual walk to determine whether or not they were still walking closely with the Lord, or perhaps drifting. The writer calls it ‘departing from the living God.’ The thought is someone withdrawing themselves from their walk with the Lord. Perhaps the departing from God caused the evil heart of unbelief. Perhaps the evil heart of unbelief caused the withdrawal. It’s hard to say but it seems that the two go hand in hand.

Because this is such a great danger, the writer encourages the church to watch over and to encourage each another daily while there is still time for recovery. Sin, he tells us, has the ability to deceive a believer and therefore produce a ‘hardened heart.’ The word ‘hardened’ means to become stubborn and resistant.

Can that happen to a Christian? Can a child of God actually become resistant to the things of God? Yes they can and many of us have experienced it at some point in our Christian life. How does it happen? The Bible tells us that it happens because of the ‘deceitfulness of sin.’ Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that we are in a constant battle with the forces of evil and that Satan uses for his attacks – ‘schemes, craftiness, deceit and trickery’. Satan knows how to make what’s wrong seem right and what’s right seem wrong. James also tells us that we are often ‘lured away’ by our own lusts. Each of us have areas of weakness and vulnerability. For some it may be lust. For others it may be greed. Many struggle with pride while others wrestle with bitterness or depression. What it is doesn’t matter as much as what it does to us. The Bible teaches us that sin deceives us, it deadens us, and it will eventually destroy us. That’s why scripture says that we are to ‘exhort one another daily…’ The danger of drifting away is always present and therefore we need to constantly be on guard, not only for ourselves, but for each other.

David had drifted in his relationship with the Lord and in a moment of great vulnerability, Satan set a trap that David couldn’t resist. Yet the Lord did not abandon His child David. The Lord is plenteous in mercy and in His mercy, the Lord sent the prophet Nathan to confront David with his sin and to call him back. I’m sure that it must have been very embarrassing for David to have Nathan point out his sin, yet it must have finally brought some relief. For nine months David had been wrestling with this issue and in Psalm 51, we read of David’s repentance and restoration.

For the rest of this message, I want us to focus on three things David desired of the Lord. These are the steps to personal revival.

Psalm 51 ‘A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.’

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. 5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

1. Wash Me Thoroughly. ‘Wash me in an exceeding amount. Cleanse me over and over until all of the stain has been removed.’ This is true repentance of sin. Repentance is not – “Oh silly me, I guess I shouldn’t have done that. Oh well, no one is perfect.” The kind of repentance that brings revival is when a man or woman is willing to say the same thing about their sin that God says about it. That’s what the word ‘confess’ means. Many years ago a man tried to convince me that it was the right thing for him to leave his wife and run off with another woman. His words were – “Once we’re on the other side of this, we can ask God to forgive us and then go on with our lives.” I told him, “If you ever truly repent of this sin, you will hate yourself for committing this sin.” David hated his sin and he hated himself the sinner and so he begged for a thorough washing that would make him clean. David well understood that God is holy and that we cannot come into His presence with unconfessed sin. The man after God’s own heart now had a dirty heart and he wanted forgiveness and restoration. Vs. 1 “O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.” Brethren, God is plenteous in mercy and His Word says – “1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

2. Renew a Right Spirit Within Me.

Psalm 51:8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. 9  Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

David not only wanted to be cleansed, he wanted to be restored to his former relationship with the Lord. “Make me to hear joy and gladness.” It seemed at the moment that fulfilling his lust with Bathsheba would make him happy, but instead it brought his sorrow. He had lost his song. He had become unable to feel God’s presence in his life. He had lost the joy of his salvation. He could no longer feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life. Spiritually speaking, he was in the drought of summer. (see Psalm 32)

Praise God, David was not content to remain there, not as long as the Lord is plenteous in mercy. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation…”

3. Open My Lips.

Psalm 51:13  Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. 14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. 15 O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

In Luke’s gospel there is a story of an adulteress woman who anointed the feet of Jesus with her tears and wipe them with her hair. The Pharisees who were watching this criticized Jesus for allowing the woman to touch her. In response to their criticism Jesus said, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” (Lk 7:47)

Conclusion

Jesus told His disciples – “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean.” (John 13:10) Two different words and thoughts are used here for cleansing.

He who has been ‘bathed all over’ does not need to bathe all over again. Jesus said these words in such a way that indicates that the action has been performed upon the person once in the past and does not need to be repeated over and over. “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins; And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.” (from There is a Fountain by William Cowper)

But Jesus also said,  “…need to wash … the feet, to be entirely clean.” The word used here for ‘wash’ is a different word and it refers to someone who washes their own hands, feet or face. What does this mean?

Salvation cleanses a person from their sins. To be washed in the blood of the lamb is to be bathed all over. However, as we walk through this world, our feet often become dirty. Therefore, they need to be cleansed for full fellowship with the Father.

Have you been washed in the blood of the Lamb? Have you been bathed all over in His saving blood?

If so, have your feet become contaminated with the filth of this world and do you need to seek forgiveness so that you might enjoy full fellowship with the Father? David’s three steps are a good example for us all to follow:

  1. Wash Me
  2. Renew Me
  3. Fill My Mouth With Thy Praise

Those three steps will return to us the joy of God’s salvation.

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