Summary: The result of our confession of sin and God cleansing us from our sin is to proclaim his righteousness through teaching others and worshiping him through our brokenness.
The Psalm that we have been studying during this Lenten season has taken us deep into our hearts, confronted us with the reality of our sin, and given us incredibly beautiful words with which to pray for forgiveness and cleansing. Last week we concentrated on the verses where we pray, “cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow… create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
I led a little exercise, where I invited us to imagine holding our hearts in our hands before God, asking what we see when we look at our hearts, and then praying those verses over our hearts – “create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me…”. I had a few great conversations, really encouraging conversations, following that exercise, where some people shared that they really felt God show them some truths and touch them with cleansing and encouragement and forgiveness and healing. And I share that to encourage us all that these ancient words, beautiful words of poetry, really do contain truth for today, really are opportunities to experience the touch of God, they really are alive and powerful – if we choose to engage.
My point here is that it can be easy for us to sit and listen, and agree, and do nothing with any of this. But when we really engage, when we do what Scripture shows us, when we choose to live differently, it really does work! God keeps His promises, and our lives are ever so much richer and more beautiful.
That is a key point, because without it the rest of the Psalm, which we will look at today, is little more than some more nice words. But when enacted, they are words of life that bring hope and newness and joy and power.
But let’s back up and read the whole Psalm:
Psalm 51 (NIV): (read together)
For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
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 you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 You desire truth in the inward being;[a]
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.(NRSV)
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,