Psalm 51:1-12. Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 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.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Psalm 51 is David’s psalm of confession after committing his great and terrible sin of raping Bathsheba and then murdering her husband (see day 54).
There’s no denying that this psalm is beautifully written, that it is theologically rich, and that it captures the heart of repentance. Some of the greatest declarations about the nature of God are expressed in this psalm. But at the same time many of the requests made of God in Psalm 51 are ones that we who are in Christ never need to pray again. Let’s look at them afresh in light of our union with Christ:
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions – this has been fulfilled in Christ. In him all our trespasses have been forgiven (Eph. 1:7) and all our debts have been cancelled (Col. 2:14).
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin – In Christ the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5) by his cleansing blood (1 John 1:7) has purified his bride (Eph. 5:26).
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice – from within Christ’s eternal forgiveness we rejoice in the Lord always (Phil. 4:4), with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory (1 Peter 1:8), because our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20) where God is rejoicing over us (Zeph. 3:17).
Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities – In Christ our sins are remembered no more (Heb. 8:12), they are blotted out (Acts 3:19), and they have been thrown into the sea (Micah 7:19), never to condemn us again (Rom. 8:1).
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me – In Christ our hearts have been circumcised (Rom. 2:29), and our spirit has been renewed (Eph. 4:23). By the New Covenant we have received a new heart of flesh and a new spirit, the Holy Spirit (Ez. 36:25-27). By the Spirit of Christ, God’s law has been written on our hearts (Heb. 8:10).
Cast me not away from your presence – In Christ the power of his indwelling life (Gal. 2:20) means nothing can separate us from God’s love (Rom. 8:38-39), for Christ will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5).
and take not your Holy Spirit from me – In Christ we are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14), who indwells us as his temple (1 Cor. 6:19), until the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30).
Christian, Christ alone is the answer to your desperate pleas for forgiveness, cleansing, wholeness, and restoration. On the cross Jesus cried out “It is finished.” The work of your salvation has been fully accomplished. There is nothing left for God to do. There is no forgiving, no more cleansing, no more purifying, no more blotting, no more creating, no more renewing, regenerating, restoring, or reconciling left undone. There is no more of Christ for you to gain. You have all of his holiness. All of his righteousness. All of his purity. All of his love.
So read Psalm 51 and cry out, Thank you Heavenly Father. Thank you for your abundant mercy in Christ that has restored to me the joy of my salvation, and upheld me with a willing spirit. Thank you for the New Covenant. Thank you for creating in me a forever clean heart. Thank you for eternal life. Thank you for “to live is Christ.”
What do your prayers of confession sound like? Are they desperate cries for God to do what he has already done, or are they faith in what Christ has already accomplished?
You in Christ
Do you believe that in Christ you are fully forgiven and free from condemnation? How would your life be different if you really believed this?
Christ in you
How does knowing that the Christ in you is pure and holy empower you to live pure and holy today?
Playlist: A Clean Heart
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