Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. (Psalm 51:1-2)
No heart beats for God until it first beats in repentance. We know this to be true, for it was the very first message of salvation from our Lord Jesus Christ: “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15 ESV).
Psalm 51 has been called the great psalm of repentance; it was penned by David after he was confronted by the prophet Nathan regarding David’s sin with Bathsheba. Nathan was an instrument of sanctification in David’s life; God sent him to confront the king about his wicked acts of adultery and murder. When David’s conscience was seared by his sinful acts, he raised his eyes to heaven and said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13).
I told you last week that I was bothered by David when I was young in the faith, and this statement was one of the things that bothered me! I would have thought that a truly repentant David would have confessed that he had sinned against Bathsheba, her husband Uriah, and the people of Israel before he brought God into the picture.
But I learned something valuable early on: At the deepest level, all sin is against God. Yes, David sinned against Bathsheba, Uriah, and all the people of God whom David had been entrusted to lead as king. But ultimately, David’s sin—and all of your sin and mine—rises to the level of God, and at that level, it includes everyone else that he (and we) sinned against along the way. Notice David’s confession in Psalm 51:4—
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.”
Only when we understand that all our sins are an offense to God and a rebellion against His will for our lives do we begin to understand true, biblical repentance of the heart. David understood this and cried out for God’s merciful forgiveness. Consider David’s actions within the context of Psalm 91, which reads in part –
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” . . . “Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (Psalm 91:1-2, 14-16)
David saw God as his refuge and his fortress of salvation. Even though he recognized that he had sinned terribly against both God and man, he knew that there was only one place to go for deliverance—only one place where forgiveness is found: at the throne of grace of the Most High. David called upon his Lord; God heard David’s prayer and knew David’s heart. This is why God could call David “a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22) and why God forgave His sin.
The Lord does not look with compassion on a heart that beats perfectly, because there is no such thing among all the sons of men (Psalm 14:2-3). But our God does smile with favor on the heart that beats for Him and trusts in Him alone for redemption and forgiveness.This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!