“Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!”
Reading through Psalm 51, I am struck by the humility here. The example of what it is to come guilty before the God of Heaven, the way it points to the basis for how one can approach Him when so stained with sin.
The grievous sins of David, and God’s faithfulness to not only bring them out of the dark so David had to face it but also to forgive when he responded with such sincere repentance – this gives us hope. That yes, there are consequences, but there remains steadfast love. There remains mercy.
Honest confession laid out, true repentance and humble requests for that which only God can do – there is hope in this, because our God is mighty to save. He comes faithfully and washes us whiter than snow. Forgiving and cleansing us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
In Isaiah 66:2, God says that He looks to the one who is humble. Seeing David’s requests for cleansing, for the creation of a pure heart and renewal of a right spirit, for the Spirit of God’s continued presence, for restoration of joy and to upheld by God – he is wholly reliant on God to answer. He does not offer anything except humility, utterly broken and needing his God’s intervention.
This is how we come. Not cleansing ourselves, not striving to prove something, not punishing ourselves for what we deserve. But simply coming in humility, seeking mercy on the foundation of our God’s steadfast love. Trusting that He will not despise a broken and contrite heart.
And mercy is what we find.
For our God has provided a mercy seat.
“For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me….
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
Psalm 51:3, 7-17