Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.
When I share an evangelistic message and want to invite people to respond to Jesus’ call to salvation, I often say that coming to Jesus is as easy as saying, “Thank you, sorry and please.” You thank God for loving you and sending Jesus to be your Savior. You say you are sorry for all you have done to hurt God and hurt other people. Then, you ask God to please forgive your sins and give you the gift of eternal life. Thank you, sorry and please. It’s a simple way to help someone take that first, essential step of faith. It’s simple, and yet it’s really, really hard, especially to say, “I’m sorry.” Those may be the hardest words any of us ever have to say. Admitting your faults, owning up to your mistakes, acknowledging that you are to blame for hurting someone else. It takes courage motivated by a heart-felt desire to set things right.
David was haunted by what he had done, and he had to put things right with God. This psalm was written after Nathan confronted David over his sinful relationship with Bathsheba. It was a sordid affair that started with lust, became adultery, then escalated into murder and deception. David took another man’s wife, maybe against her will, and then did terrible things to cover-up his actions. He must have known at each step along that dark path that what he was doing was sinful, but it wasn’t until Nathan brought it all into the light that David knew he had to confess. Psalm 51 is that confession, and it reminds us how serious and dangerous sin really is. Look at the words he used to describe his actions and their consequences: stain, guilt, sin, rebellion, evil. Also notice the attributes of God: mercy, unfailing love, compassion, right, just.
David knew he had to put things right with God, and he was willing to confess because he knew who God is. If God were not merciful, there would be no reason to confess. If God were not compassionate, confession would be useless. Even more, if Jesus had not died to take away your sins, confessing would get you nowhere. But now, you can know for sure that God is gracious. When you sin, tell God you’re sorry and trust Him to wash you clean.
Father, You are merciful and compassionate. Thank you for showing me grace through Jesus. I’m sorry for all I have done to hurt You and to hurt others. Purify me from my sin and help me to do what is good in Your sight. I pray in my Savior’s name. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian