Psalm 51:1-4 “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bath-sheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.”
Repentance. A change of mind – according to Webster’s dictionary. We all have changed our minds at one point or another. Many who seek a healthier lifestyle change their mind about the food they eat and the activity they participate or lack in their life. From cigarettes to alcohol, laziness to too much work, we all have been confronted with the need to change.
But in the psalm I read today, I found David; a man after God’s own heart, confronted by the prophet Nathan. It is estimated that from the time he had Uriah killed to the time he wrote this psalm was about 18 months. A long time to be away from God. A long time to be without the peace of God and the presence of God. David must have been miserable to live with. I know I am miserable when I am in my sin and away from God.
God sent Nathan to confront David and used an illustration that aroused David’s passion – shepherding. To hear of one treating the care of one’s lamb so carelessly awoke something in David that brought him to his senses. It brought all the turmoil, the conviction, the shame and the hurt to the surface. In this psalm, we read just how David’s heart was turned.
First, he presented himself humbly to God. Begging for mercy, he cast himself down before God. Accepting the consequences for his actions, he knew God to be merciful, longsuffering and gracious. allowing God to determine what He would do showed David’s willingness to get right. We want to get right; we just don’t want it to cost us anything.
Second, he confessed. “I acknowledge my transgressions, my sin is ever before me.” He agreed with what God already knew. Think about it – He says in His Word that He will never leave thee nor forsake thee means that even when we were sinning, His eyes were upon us; he heard me lie. He heard the hatred in my heart. He knew there was lust in my heart when I looked. He watched as my feet turned from the path that He set for me to go.
Third, he asked to be cleansed. “Purge me with hyssop…” It was like David was asking God to take a boar bristle brush to his soul. He knew that his cleansing needed to be thorough and throughout so that he could be restored. The stain went deep. But God’s cleansing goes deeper. “…and I shall be whiter than snow.”
Lastly, David knew that he needed to replace his sinfulness and inactivity with activity that pleases God. “Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.” David knew he had to once again, be a witness for God.
Wherever you find yourself this morning, know that God allows you and I to turn around from any and all directions that have led us away from Him. He, like the prodigal’s father, awaits for us to return with arms to hold us; a clean white robe once He cleanses us; and a ring to remind us we are His child.