Psalm 51 is the appointed psalm for this Sunday. I am sure that most of you have read or prayed it during a worship service or your devotions. It is a record of David’s desperate confession after Nathan revealed his covered-up sin: committing adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband, Uriah (2 Samuel 11 and 12). If you open your Bible to Psalm 51, more than likely, it begins with these words: “For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.”

Although I have never physically violated my marriage covenant with Cathy, I have let my eyes wander and my mind fantasize. Although I have never murdered anyone in cold-blood, I have cursed plenty of people in my anger. Jesus exposes these hidden sins while preaching the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:21–30). He also warned that unless our righteousness “is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees,” we will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Ouch! Many times my righteousness doesn’t even rise to their stringent standards.

So how then should we respond when God reveals our blatant or concealed sin? Psalm 51 is a good guide. In it, in several ways, David begs God to handle him and his sin graciously.

  • He asks God for mercy because he knows that God is compassionate and loving.
  • He asked God to wash away the punishment inflicted by his rebellious heart and sin.
  • He asks God to deliver him from the guilt of disobedience and sin.
  • He asks God to cleanse his mind and soul so that he can know joy and gladness again.
  • He asks God to create a pure, steadfast heart willing to follow His ways.
  • He asks God to draw him into His presence and fill him with His Holy Spirit.
  • He asks God to restore the joy of salvation.
  • He asks God to show him how to help other sinners confess and repent and praise Him for His merciful forgiveness, compassionate love, and gracious salvation.

As we approach the fifth week of Lent, may Psalm 51 guide us as God continues to uncover and we continue to confess our sin because we know that God “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

The Lord’s peace be with you!

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