Born in Sin (Psalm 51)
- Order of Service: Divine Service 3
- Hymns: "The Old Rugged Cross", #615, 609, 610, 450
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psalm 51:5)
"When in the hour of deepest need" (LSB #615.1)? What do you know about NEED? What have you in common with a man of great despair like myself? Let me introduce myself. My name is Christopher Benchet. I'd like to invite you to go on a journey with me. A journey beyond sight and sound. A journey that will change your life forever. It's a journey to Hell and back. A journey deep into the heart and soul of the forsaken.
Once there was this powerful king. His enemies trembled in the shadows. Hoping he would not see them. He had everything he could possibly ever want. But he wasn't satisfied. There was one thing he wanted that he couldn't have. But he was the king. He ruled over the whole country. Everything in the country belonged to him. So he could have it. It all seemed logical. It all seemed legal. It all seemed to wrap itself up perfectly.
This king thought that he had everything under control. But everything spiraled out of his control and into the dark oblivion of sin. This great and powerful king became a merciless member of the family. The Benchet mafia. The worst of the worst. Have you seen those bumper stickers that say, "Heaven doesn't want me and Hell's afraid I'll take over"? They were originally created for the Benchet family.
But the family's name isn't our actual surname. It's a confession of who we are. Benchet means "son of sin." With the name, we confess that what that great king once wrote is true about us: "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me" (v5). Being a Benchet should be a great shame, but the family often finds itself puffed up with pride about how bad we are. Many of us find it to be more of a competition to see how much worse we can make ourselves.
But we don't do it openly. We're too smart for that. We know our limitations. We know how to influence and affect things so that everyone thinks we're great people. We're exactly who Jesus warns about: "When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others" (Matthew 6:5). We Benchets do well at making ourselves look good in front of others while being terrible sinners on the inside. We are sons of sin. Sinning is what we're good at. We're even better at hiding our sins from others.
Follow me into the darkness of one of our favorite hiding spots. King David of Israel wrote the fifty-first psalm after the multitude of sins from his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba were revealed to him. It wasn't just one thing. It was a multitude of things. And he hid them so well that only a prophet of God would be able to discover them. He hid them in public. He hidthem among the official channels of Israelite society. He made himself look gracious and kind as he continued to live in his sin. He fooled everyone around him.
But God was not fooled. God knew and saw the iniquity and the hypocrisy of the man He had chosen to rule over His people. He had been considered a man after God's own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). But he allowed himself to place his treasures on what he had. The power. The prestige. The women. His heart had grown around his treasures (Matthew 6:21). He trusted in what he had acquired. God made sure to uncover his hiding place.
David's heart was torn. He knew his actions hadn't been as hidden as he had thought. While forgiveness was pronounced, the punishment was more than he could bear (2 Samuel 12:13-14). The child in Bathsheba's womb. The child of their adultery was going to die.
The pronouncement cut David to his very core. For the week of that child's life, he fasted and prayed. Rending his heart with his tears. Begging God to spare the child's life. In the midst of this agony, he writes the fifty-first psalm. Out of his agony, he confesses that he is a "son of sin": "I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me" (v5). David knows that he cannot stand before God. He's facedown on the floor of his bedroom, begging the Lord of the universe to be gracious to him:
- "Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!" (v2)
- "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow" (v7)
The horror of a father who knows his child is going to die. The darkness. The depths of Hell on earth. But the depths of Hell are not restricted to David and his laments over his son. Jesus suffered the complete depths of Hell as He hung on the cross. Three hours of pitch black darkness was truly Hell on earth. God the Father had turned his back on His Son. Allowing Him to die for David's sin. For the sins of every "son of sin." Hell is separation from God. Eternal separation that you need not worry about any longer.
"Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love" (Joel 2:13). St. Paul tells us: "On behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20). Being reconciled to God must come through Christ. Believing that He died on the cross for you. That He went to Hell and back for you. That God the Father "made Him to be sin who knew no sin" for you. That He will make you His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). That the old rugged cross, symbolized by the one standing here. The cross we will have to pass by in order to approach God's table to receive Jesus' body and blood. The cross cherished by Christians because it is there where we can receive the great blessings of the forgiveness of sins. Therefore we see that "Jesus sinners doth receive" (LSB #609).
Jesus came to us in the likeness of flesh so that He might redeem us. This is the consolation that we have in the crucifixion. Jesus suffered and died to grant you the forgiveness of your sins. Just as He forgave David's sins. He forgives the sins of all the "sons of sin" throughout the world. Everyone born in sin and broken by their need for forgiveness. Your deepest need has been taken care of. You have gone to Hell and back and have received the promise of entrance into Heaven at the end of your days. Amen.
O God, our merciful Father, by Your holy Law do You work in us the true knowledge of our sin, that our heart may be penitent and our soul humble before You. Blot out our iniquities with the blood of Your Son, cleanse our souls from the dark spots with which we have soiled them, and comfort us with the assurance of Your grace. Build Your Church with us and our children, that Your name may be glorified by many generations. Amen.