The following section is how we know that David knows God. He uses the previous acts of God in the world to call on God to remember his past mercy and love shown to His people.
6 Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
What does he mean when he says this? He is saying, Remember God when you delivered Noah and his family from the flood. Remember God when you protected Abraham as a prince among the Canaanites. Remember, God, when you delivered Lot and his daughters at Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction. Remember God when you blessed Jacob, changed his name to Israel, and wrestled with him through that long night at the ford of the Jabbok river. Remember God when you delivered Joseph from the pit and prison twice, eventually making him the savior of his people and prime minister of all Egypt under Pharaoh. Remember God when you delivered Moses as an infant in a basket in the Nile river because he was under a death sentence and brought him into Pharaoh’s house. Remember God when you used a broken Moses keeping sheep in the wilderness to bring your people out of slavery in Egypt. Remember, God, that you didn’t destroy them in all those times they deserved to be destroyed, that you chose mercy and steadfast love. Remember God when you brought the walls of Jericho down with a shout and a trumpet sound. Remember God when you brought them into the land with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and settled them under Joshua. Remember God when you took Gideon out of a wine press where he was hiding from his enemies. You used him to deliver your people from a mighty army through a couple of dreams and a few torches in jars. Remember God when you took me, David, from keeping my father’s sheep and made me king over all Israel. Remember, O God, let it be like that with me now.
David says, “Remember your mercy, O Lord,” but God hasn’t forgotten. David reminds himself of God’s mercy and steadfast love in the light of his goodness. This is why it is so necessary to KNOW THE WORD OF GOD. Not so we can win arguments on Twitter or impress our friends at Bible Study, but so we can recall the mercy and steadfast love of God, especially during the dark days of desperation. How can we preach the Gospel to ourselves if we are not familiar with recounting it and meditating upon it? We must develop the spiritual reflex of turning to God in times of peace, or we will not turn to God in our times of desperation.
David wants God to remember His steadfast love on the one hand, but then, on the other, he asks God to forget his sins according to his steadfast love as well.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!
The mercy of God’s steadfast love is what David desires first, but then he turns to another of God’s traits he is also familiar with to ask that God does not remember the sins of his youth sins that have already been confessed and covered by the blood of sacrifice.
David shows that he had suffered from the same spiritual malady that often afflicts us. We are afraid that the blood of Christ will not be enough and that God will suddenly remember our past sins and bring a swift judgment upon us based on sins long committed in the past. Sins already placed under the blood of Christ. They continue to bear on our minds, so we believe and behave toward God as if he condemns us because we continue secretly to condemn ourselves. If this kind of thing were not true, the Apostle John would not have to write to remind us in 1 John 3:19-21:
19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;
David has confidence before God. I said in the past tense, “David shows that he HAD suffered from the same spiritual malady that often afflicts us.” A spirit of unbelief in the complete washing away of our sins. He has matured beyond it for the most part, or he would not be saying what he is saying. He calls on those things that were “of old,” which are the mercy, steadfast love, and the goodness of God. His calls for remembering and forgetting are based on what he knows about the character of God. He is calling on God to act toward him according to what he knows about God’s character through God’s past acts and his own past personal experience.
We’ll complete our exposition next time together in Part 4