If ever there was ever a man in need of revival, it was David. How far this once young, humble worshiper had fallen. One bad decision to yield to lust had set off a chain of events that took him from a man of consecration to a man of covetousness, from adoration to adultery, devotion to deceit and from a musician to a murderer.
He had fallen far from righteousness, but thankfully – not far from God’s grace. It was a Father’s love that sent the prophet Nathan to confront this prodigal. What a shame it had gone this far, at one point the Lord could have simply pricked David’s heart and provoked him to repentance, but now he had to send a prophet to arrest his attention. Proof that God’s desire is always to bring us back to Himself. David’s response to the Lord is scribed for all to see within the nineteen verses of Psalm 51. These powerful words offer each of us a recipe for revival.
1) David RETURNS
“Have mercy on me, O God” – vs 1
What was David’s response the moment he realized how far from the Lord he was? He simply returned to the Lord. David ran back to the only One who could truly save him. He didn’t run from God’s conviction, nor did he run from his own sin…he simply ran to the Lord.
No matter how far we feel we are from God, God is never far from us. In fact, when we feel as though we have drifted miles apart, He is only one step behind. We simply must follow David’s example and turn back to our Lord.
I’ve met far too many people who are conscious of their fallen lives yet feel that before they can return to the Lord they must first right their wrongs. Friend, the mess of sin is not a mess you and I can clean up ourselves. Before the stain of sin can be removed from your heart, your heart must return to the Lord!
2) David REPENTS
“For I recognize my rebellion…Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean” – vs 3,7
David returns to the Lord and repents. Repentance means to turn around. It is a true change of mind that results in a change of behavior. It is not simply asking for forgiveness, though forgiveness will accompany true repentance. Repentance requires an about face in your thinking as well as your actions.
Some are in the habit of treating repentance as a shower of grace that removes the guilt of sin, yet have no desire to leave behind the lifestyle that keeps producing the guilt. You have not truly repented until you make the decision to leave the sin. Anything less is simply uttering empty words, hoping for a temporary forgiveness until the next time you find yourself in the same place.
True repentance turns around. It recognizes that my walk, my thinking, everything has been going in the wrong direction and now I stop and turn back to the Lord.
3) David takes RESPONSIBILITY
David chose to take personal responsibility for his own sins. Notice throughout his Psalm as he says, “my sins… my guilt… my sin rebellion… I sinned… I have done what is evil… I was born a sinner.”
David does not excuse his sin, he takes responsibility for it. Neither does he blame another for his sin. He could have passed the blame onto Bathsheba as a common man would have. “Lord if she had not been bathing on her rooftop…she seduced me, caused me to sin!” No, David recognizes that this sin was his and his alone.
David doesn’t blame the circumstances either. He easily could have uttered, “Lord I was tired, I wasn’t thinking, I was alone.” However, David comes before the Lord and lays the blame and responsibility where it belongs…on himself.
I believe this is the reason David won God’s heart. He wasn’t a man who tried to hide like Adam did when he sinned. The moment David realized how far he had fallen, He returned, repented and took responsibility for his transgressions.
We too must do the same. Don’t blame someone else! Not your parents, your friends, your peers or spouse. Don’t blame your circumstances! Not your upbringing, your culture, your economic standing or past. Let the blame fall where it belongs. It’s my sin, it’s my fault.
Return, repent, responsibility…this was as far as David could go with this recipe for revival, now the rest would have to come from the Lord.
4) The Lord REMOVES
“Remove the stain of my guilt.” – vs 9
Only God can remove the stain of sin. David knew that the heaviness of his heart and the guilt that he felt was the conviction of God. Therefore only God could lift it from his life.
None of us like the way we look when our sins come to light. Some choose to run from that light. They try to alleviate the guilt with worldly methods. They drown it with a drink, medicate it with a drug, console it with secular counseling or try to ignore it with entertainment.
The stain is only lifted by the Lord. When the Lord is dealing with your heart, don’t remove it from the light, let it remain. When the lost sons and daughters return and repent and God then removes their guilt and cleanses them from their sins, this is where revival is initiated. This is true forgiveness.
5) The Lord RENEWS
“Renew a loyal spirit within me.” – vs 10
Simply finding forgiveness from his sins is not enough. David now asks the Lord to renew his spirit. Without life coming back to the dead and dry places within him, he is likely to return to his sin. He asks the Lord to renew a loyal spirit, one that once again fears and longs to love and worship his Savior as he once had.
We too must let the Lord renew a right spirit within us. No doubt it was an offense, bitterness, lust, pride, jealously or idolatry that was left unchecked in our life that brought about death within our spirit. These things cannot remain. We must ask the Lord to renew our spirit, pulling out each of these sins by their roots. Only then can we truly be healed and renewed.
6) The Lord RESTORES
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation” – vs 12
David asks the Lord to restore him as well. Restoration means to bring back to the original. David wants the Lord to bring him back to the relationship they enjoyed when he was just a humble shepherd. It was there that he learned to worship God beneath the canopy of the stars and write psalms upon his harp.
It’s God’s desire to not just save us, but restore us to his original plan and purpose for our lives. Some may feel that because of the mistakes of their past or because of the magnitude of their sins that they have forfeited the future God designed for them. This view puts more faith in our ability to fail than in God’s ability to prevail.
It doesn’t matter if your eight, eighteen or eighty, God’s ability to restore you to the joy of your salvation and His original plan for your life is not limited by the depth or your sin. It’s unleashed by the depths of His love.
Do you see where we are? David has returned to the lord, repented and took responsibility for his actions. God has removed the sins, renewed his spirit and restored his son. This is personal revival. Personal revival is always the precursor to a corporate revival. Don’t believe me? Study the history of revival. You’ll always find a man or woman who experienced a revival in their own life and then went on to ignite it within the lives of those around them.
7) I will REACH
13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you… 15 Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.
The logical, proper reaction to revival is outreach. When God truly moves on your life in power, your lips are unsealed and your mouth sings His praise. David promises the Lord that when revival touches his life, he will then reach out to those in need.
Personal revival has to lead to corporate revival. It is impossible to light a flame in the midst of dry tender without setting the whole thing ablaze. This is the nature of and precursor to corporate revival. If there is no outward fire, chance are there was no inward flame.
You’ll know the genuineness of the revival in your life by your compulsion to share what you have with others. Revival and evangelism always go hand in hand. They sustain one another.
I will REJECT religion
“You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” vs 16-17
David affirms that this is not about religion. By religion I mean rules, regulations, requirements, rituals and routines. It’s a sad reality but often times when God moves powerfully in our lives what begins in the spirit ends in the flesh. David could have, as king, required the entire kingdom to come to the tabernacle and offer sacrifices. On the exterior it may have looked like a corporate revival, but on the interior of people’s hearts there would be no personal renewal. He knew that requiring the people to do something wasn’t what they needed.
We can’t legislate our response to revival to be someone else’s requirement. We have to let each person find revival through the same means we did. We must lead them to the One we returned to and trust God to do the rest.
9) We will REBUILD
“Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit— with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings.” – vs 18-19
David ends his psalm with a prayer for the rebuilding of the city of God. Just as he experienced restoration in his own life, he prayed that his nation would be restored as well.
This is joint effort between us and the Lord. We must each offer up our lives to the Lord as living sacrifices. We must remain in a state of personal revival and trust God to sustain the corporate revival that will rebuild His glorious church. When the personal fires of revival begin to die, the corporate fires are not far behind.
The Bottom Line…
Are there areas of your life that need to experience personal revival? Are there sins in your life that you know need to be dealt with? How is your devotional life progressing? Are you more in love with Jesus today than you were yesterday? Are there mindsets or mind games that you find yourself constantly wrestling with? Do you deal with condemnation or shame in areas of your life? Are you depressed?
If so… Return to the only One who can save you. Return to the Lord. Fall on your knees and cry out to Him. Repent for your ways, your way of thinking and your actions. Take full responsibility for your sins. Then trust Him to come remove, restore, and renew you.