A CLEAN SLATE
God, you are so great. You are mighty and worthy of all my praise.
Read PSALM 51
For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectSlowly say the ancient ‘Jesus Prayer’: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
We once called a carpet cleaning company to remove a stain on a rug. When done, it looked fine, but a couple of days later the stain reappeared. My wife, being a chemist, identified a key ingredient of the shampoo as a temporary bleach! The stain of sin in our lives requires permanent cleansing, not temporary hiding.
After being confronted by the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12:1–14), David recognized his sin and prayed this psalm. He makes no excuses but, relying on God’s unfailing love and mercy, he asks God not to simply overlook his transgressions but to ‘blot them out’ (v 1). Sin needs to be removed and the sinner cleansed (v 2).
In saying his sin is only against God (v 4), David does not deny the dreadful things done to Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Samuel 11) but acknowledges that all sin stems from rebellion against God.
Hyssop (v 7), a plant with hairy leaves and stem, made a natural brush used for sprinkling the blood of sacrifices in Old Testament cleansing ceremonies. These pointed toward Christ’s sacrifice for sin (see Hebrews 9:19–28).
Forgiveness is not just a legal state. A broken relationship is restored with the indwelling Spirit empowering us to live for God. The appropriate responses to God’s forgiveness are praise and a transformed life (vs 15–17).
Imagine the sins which trouble you being listed on a whiteboard, then being wiped away. Praise God.
Lord, I know sin can enter my life and be allowed to settle down and stay. I pray for a sensitivity to sin and an eagerness to repent when under your conviction.
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