Before we jump into this Psalm, I think it is important to give a little background on how this Psalm came to be and what David, the author, was writing about. This is a Psalm written by a broken, guilt ridden and repentant man. His transgressions were great and he tried with all his might to cover up his sin, but he was eventually found out and called to the carpet for his wickedness.
King David was hanging out on the rooftop relaxing while all the other men of Israel were out fighting the war. As he was chilling on the rooftop he caught a glimpse of a beautiful woman bathing, her name was Bathsheba. His gazing became lust and it overtook him. The end result was an adulterous affair with Bathsheba.
After his romp in the hay, so to speak, he finds that she has become pregnant with David’s child. This was a problem because she was a married woman. David tries to cover his sin by coming up with a scheme…
- First he gives an opportunity for her husband to come home from battle and hopefully lie with her. He figured then at least the husband would think it was his.
- When this failed, David made the unwise choice of putting her husband in the front line of battle, and he was killed
- After his death David takes Bathsheba to be his wife.
Four Pleas of a Broken and Guilty Man
- Plea for mercy (Vs 1): Once David’s sin (adultery and murder) is exposed he begs for pity from God. He pleads for God to be gracious and show him favor. David knew he was guilty but he also knew God was a loving and forgiving God. He was not asking for forgiveness because he wanted an escape route, or because he deserved it; he was genuinely pleading for God in His loving kindness to grant him mercy.
- Plea of confession and forgiveness (Vs 2, 3): Upon acknowledging his sin, David begs God for forgiveness. His remorse has become so great that the only thing that can make his guilt subside is to plead for a washing away of his trespass. He publicly confesses his sin to God in repentance. David knows he has done wrong in the site of God and he owns up to his sin.
- Plea for cleansing (Vs 7 – 9): He is asking God to blot out or obliterate from His memory the transgression before him. The process spoken of in verse 7a (purge me with hyssop) is a cleansing ritual of a leper. In 7b the "washing" may refer to the ritual washing that was involved after contact with a dead person. David knows he is unclean and he acknowledges his unworthiness and seeks to be purged and cleansed by God so that he may be spiritually cleansed.
- Plea for spiritual restoration/ New life (Vs 10 - 12): David knows his sin is great. He knows the consequences of sin also means separation from God. He asks God to create (make new) his heart and reboot, if you will, his spirit because they have become dirty and foul. He also begs that God would not cast him from his presence but instead give him back the joy he once had in the salvation God had promised.
Pleasing Sacrifices to God
In verse 17 David comes to the realization that his cleansing and new life does not come through ritualistic means. Most people in his time knew that if they sinned they would just have to go through the rituals of cleansing and then they would feel alright with God. This is the ritual of religion… trying to do something for God (following the rule book) and yet not really doing anything to change or guard themselves from happening again. David acknowledges what God truly desires of him.
- A Humble spirit – To know and understand the magnitude of sin and change his sinful ways.
- A Remorseful heart – True repentance. Repentance is not just being sorry for what you did. A Bible college professor explained to me that repentance as “being sorry enough to change.” It simply means to change one’s mind and actions.
Jesus, Repentance & Forgiveness
Because of Jesus we are…
- Granted mercy – 1 Peter 1:3: As David pleaded for mercy to be made new, we can know that mercy is available to us through Christ. Because God is merciful and we can experience the opportunity to receive the gift of being born again (salvation, the new birth).
- Forgiven – 1 John 1:9: In Christ we know that we are truly forgiven if we confess our sins to God and seek his forgiveness. If we ask for forgiveness we will receive forgiveness.
- Cleansed – 1 Cor. 6:11: In Jesus Christ we are cleansed… Every one of us has a past. Some of our pasts are more colorful than others, but we need to take comfort in the words of Paul … “and such were some of you.” We are all sinners and unworthy of the Kingdom of God, yet when God called you to be his son or daughter you were cleansed, you were sanctified (made holy), and justified (made right with God) through Jesus Christ.
- Spiritually restored/ New Creation – 2 Cor. 5:17: If you have confessed your sins and sought forgiveness from God, you are clean. Not only are you clean but you are now a NEW creation. You are not a better you… you are a new you and the old sinful nature has passed away and now all things are new. If you are a believer in Jesus then you have been made right and your relationship has been restored with God.
In Jesus Christ it is no longer necessary to offer the blood sacrifices of animals for our sins, because the ultimate sacrifice has been made through him. So let us rejoice in the new life… May we know full well that those who are in Christ have received mercy, forgiveness, cleansing and a new life here on this earth and a new life for all eternity in the presence of our Almighty and loving God.