Do Not Send Me Away from Your Presence: Psalm 51 (part 12)

“Do not send me away from your presence,

and your Holy Spirit—do not take him from me.”

(Psalm 51:13 {Psalm 51:11 in English Bibles})


In this verse, David returns to a chiastic structure.  The verses that have gone before have been largely arranged in a simple parallel structure and this change is designed to add emphasis.  And the emphasis that David is making strikes at the very heart of the human condition:  sin has driven us out of relationship with God.  In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve walked in communion with God; sin changed that.  Because of sin, man and woman were driven out of paradise and out of the relationship that would make even the most hellish place a paradise to be in—they were driven out of their intimate and personal relationship with God in his presence, and all of the struggles and difficulties we face in our fallen nature when we seek to commune with God all have roots back to this origin.

How could a Holy God remain in communion with those who rebelled in sin?  Indeed, sin must be punished, and the wrath of an infinite, Holy God was the only punishment suitable to the crime.  Beloved, facing someone’s anger is one thing—it is rarely a pleasant thing to do, but it is something we have all done and will likely do again—this kind of anger can be weathered.  But righteous anger is something altogether different—especially when we are in the wrong.  Facing the righteous wrath of a man who has been wronged is a heavy thing to deal with and is grievous to endure.  But what about the righteous anger of an infinite God who is perfect in his holiness and perfect in his righteousness?  No man could stand.  We would be utterly lost—even the best and most noble human being—we would be forever consigned to the fires of hell; and, in doing so, God would be vindicated.

Yet, in God’s unfathomable richness and mercy, he chose to redeem a people for himself.  Sin had to be dealt with, but rather than putting a burden that could not be borne upon men, he allowed his Son to become flesh and to bear that penalty on behalf of those who would cling to him in faith as their substitute, mediator, and paraclete.  Indeed, this is the demonstration of the infinite love of God, that he would give his only begotten son to die and bear the penalty of sin for those whom he would call in faith, that whosoever would believe in him would not perish but have eternal life and those who would reject the offering made by Christ would be forever consigned to their reasonable fate, paying the penalty for their sin in eternal condemnation (John 3:16-21).  There is no other way and no other path to the paradise of God but through Christ.  Adam and Eve lost access to it and Christ has shed his blood to offer it back to humanity once again—what good news that is to a dark and dying world!

Thus, in Christ, communion is restored through the work of the Holy Spirit, and David, recognizing the great blessing connected with God’s presence before him, clung to that above all else.  Though his sin may have caused him to deserve to be forever cast out of God’s presence, the work of Christ allows the prayer offered in faith to be heard and answered.  And though God may remove our sense of assurance for a time as a means of disciplining his children, he will not leave or forsake us because he has called us his own and adopted us as sons and daughters in Christ.  God paid too dear a price to abandon those for whom his Son died.  Thus, David pleads that God not remove from him the closeness and presence of communion that they had enjoyed, and indeed, how this should guide our own prayers of repentance, recognizing that God will not let his people be forever lost, but recognizing how essential that it is that we remain in daily—moment by moment—communion with God.  Loved ones, cling to this promise, and cling to Christ.

O love that will not let me go,

I rest my weary soul in thee;

I give thee back the life I owe,

That in thine ocean depths its flow

May richer, fuller be.

-George Matheson

Author: preacherwin

A pastor, teacher, and a theologian concerned about the confused state of the church in America and elsewhere...Writing because the Christian should think Biblically.

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