In compiling psalms that deal with trying to fool God or being foolish enough to think you can hide things from God, the compilers chose to include David’s confession following his adultery with Bathsheba, and the pain of Nathan’s exposure of his foolishness. David wrote this psalm in an effort to reconcile with his Heavenly King, and was anxious to regain his position as a man after God’s own heart. David learned a valuable lesson in dealing with his sinful nature: Admit that you did wrong; Confess that wrong in its entirety to God; then, Pledge with God’s help never to repeat it. Only a full and complete confession will result in full and complete forgiveness.

O One True God, please find a way to forgive me and love me once again; let Your compassion be sufficient to remove this rebellious act from my record; yes, wash the dirt from my soiled soul. I know I did wrong; I’ve had constant nightmares over it. You’re the One I failed; You saw me commit this awful deed; who could blame You for finding me guilty and giving me the punishment I deserve? I’ve struggled with sin all my life; I was born with these evil tendencies already in my heart. That’s why You cause us to feel conviction; to make us aware of these secret urges. So cleanse me ‘til I feel pure; yes, wash me ‘til I know every spot is gone. This will allow me to experience joy and contentment again after You turn my pain and grief into rejoicing. Please keep me from becoming obsessed with my sinfulness, by erasing it completely from my mind. Then design a pure heart for me, O One True God, and fill it with a spirit of dedication. Whatever You do, don’t dismiss me from Your presence or withdraw Your Holy Spirit from me. But let me once more rejoice in Your saving power; so with a grateful spirit I can keep going. Believe me, I will certainly let others dealing with the same temptations know what You’ve done, so they will turn back to You. So I ask You now, O One True God, pardon me so I won’t die in my sins; I want so much to sing with all my heart about the One True God and His marvelous grace.” Psalm 51:1-14

Reflection: A woman angrily confronted her husband about his affair with another woman in town. With trembling shoulders he bowed his head, and as tears streamed over his cheeks he asked her forgiveness. In response she gave him a list of things she wanted him to do before she would forgive him. It took quite a while until he finished the last item on the list, which he then gave to his wife for approval. After looking it over, and with a smirk on her face, she tore up the completed list and with little sincerity said, “Okay, I guess I have to forgive you.” That’s when her husband turned, walked to the front door and opened it. As he prepared to exit he looked back at his wife and said with a calm voice, “You don’t need to give me your forgiveness, I’ve earned it!” then walked out and never came back. They ended up getting a divorce; he married the other woman and went on with his life, while she continued to sit at home each evening in misery, stewing in frustration and anger because she didn’t feel she made him pay a big enough price. David knew there was no sacrifice to cover his sin; there was nothing he could do to earn it. So he threw himself completely on God’s mercy and grace, falling at God’s feet and pleading for forgiveness. He didn’t do this to garner pity, or see what bargain he could make with God; he did it but because of whom God is and what God can do. God did not give him a list of things to accomplish in order to earn forgiveness, because He knew that was impossible. What a great lesson for anyone trying to pay for or earn forgiveness from God, when all along His grace and mercy offers it freely to those who are sincere.

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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