Perhaps one of the most beautiful expressions of redemption can be found in Psalm 51. In fact, this may well be one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture.
Psalm 51 is an expression of repentance. And it displays the possibility of redemption for those who are willing to confess their sin and repent of it.
It is the result of David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba. You probably know the story found in 2 Samuel 11-12. David saw a beautiful woman whom he desired. He took her and committed adultery with her, resulting in a pregnancy. In order to cover his tracks, he tried to have the woman’s husband come home from war and visit is wife. When that failed, he had the husband murdered. And he thought he got away with it.
But he didn’t. God knew what David had done, and sent the prophet Nathan to convict David of his sin. It worked. David repented, and wrote Psalm 51 as a result.
That’s a very condensed version of the events that transpired, but I think you get the big idea. What David’s words in Psalm 51 show is that there is power in confessing our sin and repenting of it before God.
Psalm 51 can be broken into three different sections, and show us the progression he went through as he turned from his sin and returned to God.
Repentance (verses 1-6)
First of all, David had to repent, or turn away from his sin. He cries out for forgiveness and confesses his guilt. He appeals to the mercy of God, even before he mentions his sin. He pleads with God to “blot out my transgressions.” This literally means “rebellions,” a setting of one’s self against the will and law of God. It is treason against God. David saw God as the one to whom he must answer, and so he offers up a pray of confession, and repeats this plea twenty-two times in Psalm 51.
David’s cry is that God would wash him clean of his iniquity (verse 2). Iniquity is a word that identifies something as twisted or warped or crooked. David pleads with God to “wash me thoroughly from my iniquity.” Purity as well as pardon is desired by those who are truly repentant. And conviction of sin always precedes the petition for forgiveness of sin. David’s sin was opening himself up to the temptation of adultery with Bathsheba, and then committing that adultery! This led to the murder of her husband, Uriah the Hittite, an honorable man, a patriot, and one of David’s 30 Mighty Men. Now David hated and confessed his sin. He died to the practice of such sin. That is repentance from sin.
Redemption (verses 7-11)
First, David prays for full cleansing (verses 7-9). He longs to be purified, to receive atonement. Next, he asks for a new heart (verses 10-11). He knows that new heart is required to match the purification that he is longing for. And he knows that no one but God can create a new heart. God’s part in salvation is to provide the way of escape through the giving of His only Son (John 3:16). Man’s part is to believe and obey the gospel of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Restoration (verses 12-19)
Finally, David asks God to restore his joy, because to be saved from sin brings joy. Deliberately departing from the way of righteousness brings condemnation, and a lack of joy and peace! David lost his joy in God when he sinned. According to the Law, David deserved to die for the sins of murder and lust. He prays for freedom, and then praises God that he receives it. As a result, David’s sole desire now is to please God. He deserved to die for the murder of Uriah and for adultery with Bathsheba. Nevertheless, God forgave him. David resolved to let his life and his lips forever praise God for victory over sin (verses 16-17).
David’s cry to God could be anyone’s cry. Because we all have sinned. We all have fallen short. And we all can be restored with the simple acts of confession and repentance. That’s what is so amazing about the grace of God.
And I am profoundly grateful for it.
Question: Do you have anything in your life that you need to confess and repent of, and seek God’s forgiveness? If so, take care of that matter right now. You can leave a comment by clicking here.