Summary: A look at the confession of David in psalm 51. David reveals a heart that is truly pursuing God

Calling Out in Confession

Psalm 51:1-17

Spring Life Series

May 4, 2008

Morning Service


In the late 1850’s immigrants from Europe settled in the hills of Appalachia and brought some strange and unique customs with them. One of the more unusual customs was that of the sin eater.

The sin eater provided a way of confession and forgiveness through human means. The belief was that if you took an offering to the sin eater and confessed your sins, the sin eater would take your sins upon himself.

Francine Rivers wrote of this custom in her book the Last Sin Eater. In the book a young girl named Cadie Forbes seeks out the sin eater to have her sins taken away. Here is a clip from The Last Sin Eater.

Play Clip

Cadie is searching for an inner cleansing that even the sin eater could not provide. She was seeking an inner change and redemption from her sins. Cadie was seeking what the sin eater could never provide.

How often do people feel the need for inner change but so often look at only the solutions that they can provide?

What does it mean to confess?

Many times we simply apply confession to the life of someone who is admitting their sins before God. However, there is more to confession than just admitting wrongdoing. Confession is an open manner of speaking out. Paul tells the Romans that they must confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord. Is Paul telling them to confess their sins in this statement? Not at all. Paul is telling the Roman believers to boldly speak out in the name of Christ and tell what He had done for them.


To admit or declare

To declare openly by the way of speaking out freely

To admit wrongdoing through the result of inner conviction

Biblical examples of confession

• Aaron confessed his sin to Moses

• Israel confessed their sins after God sent the serpents into their camp in the wilderness

• Saul confessed to Samuel

• Nehemiah confessed the sins of the Israelites before God

• Peter confessed his sin to Jesus after the great catch of fish

• The thief on the cross confessed his sin to Jesus before he died

This morning I want to look at one of the best Biblical examples of confession. Open your Bibles with me to Psalm 51.

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. 14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

David’s Five Step Process of Confession

1.) Ask for Mercy

Before David says anything else he asks God for mercy. Why does David do this? He is revealing the humble nature of his heart. Look at those first words again: have mercy on me O God. Can you feel the emotion in them? Can you see the depth of personal brokenness? We have to remember that before we can approach God, we must first humble ourselves.

God is merciful beyond our ability to measure. If you doubt this, you need to remember that God sent Jesus to the cross as an act of divine mercy. God is rich in mercy and gives the gift of new life through Jesus.

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