Originally posted at: http://purehope.net/psalm-51/
This summer on facebook, our interns took you through Psalm 51. One of ours and the interns’ and favorite things to do is 51//58 prayer. Praying through Psalm 51 for personal repentance and the pursuit of purity, followed by praying through Isaiah 58 for church revival and the pursuit of justice. We finished today, so here is the full compilation of those posts for your devotional delight…
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. 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!
David cries out to God for forgiveness after he committed adultery with Bathsheba (see 2 Samuel 11) with a desperation for healing and sanctification that we should all desire.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
We can’t properly turn to God in repentance until we acknowledge our sin. Jesus Himself said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” As long as we think we are “okay”, we will walk as if we have no need of Him.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (Bonus: Our staff is loving this band, Rivers & Robots check out their song White As Snow)
Notice what David does not say: “Hold on, God, while I try and clean myself.” He understands that cleansing is the work of God. May we come before Him in humble repentance and ask Him to do what only He can do.
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.
It is an interior issue! David gets it. Jesus called the Pharisees out in Matthew 23 for being like whitewashed tombs, clean on the outside but dirty on the inside. David petitions, “Renew me from the inside out.” Lord, create a clean heart in all of us.
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.
Though this Psalm is written in repentance from a sexual sin, David doesn’t mention sexual sin once. His prayer is for the joy of the Lord. Why? Because David understands the heart of the issue: that he’s not seeking to be satisfied in God. And what is the natural flow of having the joy of the Lord in you? You’ll want to tell others about Him and serve Him. Faithful living always begins with being satisfied in Him.
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.
David prays for deliverance because in his sin, his worship of God is hindered. Where is our heart in repentance? Our prayers for freedom should ultimately be so that we can enjoy Him more. And in freedom we will enjoy Him more.
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.
He doesn’t just want our lip service or our good deeds- He wants our heart. Cry out to the Lord, come before him with a humble and broken heart. His word promises he will not reject that. He will receive you. And He will bring forgiveness and freedom.
Do good to Zion in Your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then will You delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on Your altar.
David is acknowledging that because of his leadership, his sin has a communal effect. His repentance and earnest pursuit of the Most High, then, can also have a profound impact on his kingdom. David’s prayer begins with himself and ends with a longing for the good of his people.
Jesus, we pray akin to David’s prayer: Cleanse us individually, build us up together. You are our Cornerstone! May our worship be a fragrant offering.