Monday, September 20, 2010

License Plate Evangelism

Last week I was leaving a hospital parking garage when a West Virginia license plate caught my attention. The tag read "PSALM 51". It got my mind whirring. It's a penitential psalm where King David confesses the sin of his adultery with Bathsheba before God. If you remember your Bible history then you'll know that David committed adultery with the beautiful—married—woman and she became pregnant. To cover his sin David conspired in the murder of her husband, Uriah, a faithful soldier in Israel's army. In punishment God killed David's son born of adultery (see 2 Samuel 11-12.23)
Psalms 51:1-19 ESV
(1) To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
(2) Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
(3) For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
(4) Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
(5) Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
(6) Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
(7) Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
(8) Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
(9) Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
(10) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
(11) Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
(12) Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
(13) Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
(14) Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
(15) O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
(16) For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
(17) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
(18) Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem;
(19) then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
The question, of course, is what did the driver mean to convey? was he:
1. Announcing to the world that he had been forgiven (scandalous?) grave sin?
2. Announcing to the world that they, too, can be forgiven of grave sin?
3. All of the above?
Whatever the original meaning behind paying the fee for the vanity license plate I do wonder how many people instantly got the gist of his witness...or went home and looked up Psalm 51 to see what he was saying?