PSALM 51: For When My Life Just Isn't Right
Sometimes my life is messed up.
Sometimes, I realize that I'm either ignoring God's commandments, missing His Will for my life, or just doing things 100% wrong. Other times, I'm unaware that I'm falling short, but I don't know what it is. I can only assume that I've stepped outside God's Will, and I have to do SOMETHING to fix it.
What I've found is that it's difficult to always know exactly what to pray, but for that, I turn to Psalm 51.
Psalm 51 takes place after David commits adultery with Bathsheba, impregnates her, kills her husband, Uriah, and marries her in an effort to conceal his sin. Nathan the prophet approaches David, declares God's punishment for his sin (which would be to take the life of the child), and leaves David to confront his disunity with God.
What results is what I consider to be one of the most powerful chapters in the Word of God: Psalm 51.
Let's go through it, pausing occasionally to consider the weight of these words.
1 Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
4 Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.
David doesn't offer excuses. He doesn't hide from his mistakes. He owns them. He confesses them. And he approaches God with pure honesty.
"I. Messed. Up. Have mercy on me, God, and cleanse me."
Verse 4 makes it clear: David's sin affected Uriah. It affected Bathsheba. It affected the throne of Israel. It affected the innocent child, conceived in an adulterous act of lust and listless passion. But it was God who David truly wronged, and His justice demands repentance.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
I am a sinner. I was born with this human flesh.
But God can change me. He can make me perfectly clean, perfectly pure.
8 Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may 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 steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
When you've cleansed me, restore my fellowship with You. Help me to find joy despite my human frailty.
Verse 9 is one of my favorites, but Verse 12 reminds us that along with God's salvation should come joy. Joy is that ever-elusive quality that goes beyond happiness — beyond emotion. There should be a contentment and a peace that comes along with God's forgiveness and acceptance.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
And here it is: IT'S NOT REALLY ABOUT US.
Does God want to restore us to Him? Yes!
Does God want us to find joy in His presence? Yes!
Does God want to cast our sins into the sea of forgetfulness? Yes!
But what is the result? To witness. To share. To extend the message of repentance, redemption, and revival in the lives of those around us. It's not enough to be content with our own forgiveness. We must declare the Gospel with our lives and our worship.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.
A repentant heart, turned away from the desires of this world, is the sacrifice that God awaits from us.
A broken, contrite heart? Remember what God's Word says elsewhere: Psalm 34:18.
18 Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.
If you find yourself, as I do, feeling as though you have more to give, more to change, or more to release into God's hands, bookmark Psalm 51.
It will change your life. I promise.