Psalm 51: Emmanuel
You haven't really understood Psalm 51 until you have realized that every word of this penitential psalm cries for Jesus. Every promise embedded in this psalm looks for fulfillment in Jesus. Every need of Psalm 51 reaches out for help in Jesus. Every commitment of Psalm 51 honors Jesus. The sin that's at the heart of this psalm will only ever find its cure in the grace of Jesus.
Yes, Psalm 51 is a prayer of confession. And it's true that Psalm 51 is all about what true repentance produces in the heart and life of a man. Psalm 51 defines how true repentance always produces heartfelt worship. But more than anything else, Psalm 51 is Emmanuel's hymn. The forgiveness of Psalm 51 rests on the shoulders of the One whose name would be Emmanuel. The Jesus who would provide everything that David (and we) need took a glorious name. It is a name whose implications are almost too wonderful to grasp and too lofty to imagine. It's a name that summarizes everything the biblical narrative is about.
Genesis 1 reminds us that people were created for relationship with God. This was to be what separated us from the rest of creation and defined our lives. Genesis 3 chronicles the horror of people stepping out of the fellowship in pursuit of the vaporous hope of autonomy. The covenant promises of the Old Testament are God saying that he'll make a way for that fellowship to be restored. The cloud of glory in the holy place of the temple was a physical manifestation of God's presence with his people. All of these things were steps on a ladder that was leading to Emmanuel. The announcement of the angels to those bewildered shepherds was God's announcement that Emmanuel had come. The promise of the Spirit, fulfilled in the visible flames of Acts, declares that Emmanuel had come to stay. The hope of heaven is only understood when you grasp what it means to dwell in the presence of Emmanuel forever.
What is all of this about for you today? David's hope is your hope because David's confession is your confession. You will only get what God has given you when you understand that you need much more than a system of answers, what you actually need is a Redeemer. Why? Because only a Redeemer can rescue you from you! And so God didn't simply offer you legal forgiveness. Praise him that he did that. But he offered you something much more profound. He offered you himself. He knew that your need was so great that it wouldn't be enough to simply forgive you. He literally needed to unzip you and get inside you or you would never be what you were supposed to be and do what you were supposed to do.
And so the whole redemptive story marches toward Emmanuel, the Redeemer who would destroy sin's dominion in our hearts by making our hearts the place where he, in his power, wisdom, and glory would dwell.
So pray Emmanuel prayers. Sing Emmanuel songs. Exercise Emmanuel faith. Live in Emmanuel obedience. Be motivated by Emmanuel glory. And be glad the hope of hopes has come! Emmanuel is with you now and forever!