Wash and Cleanse - Psalm 51

David is known as a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14, Acts 13:22). As much as we look up to David and all God did through him, he was not perfect. David was a sinful man. One example of this is his relationship with Bathsheba. David stayed in the palace and sent his men into battle (a huge no-no for kings) and while his men died fighting in the battle field, he was hanging out at home. While relaxing on his rooftop he looked over and saw a married woman bathing at her home. He summoned her to the palace. Shortly thereafter he received word that she was pregnant…by him. (Her husband was away at war.) King David ended up having her husband killed to cover up his sin. But God was not fooled. God sent the prophet Nathan to rebuke David. This Psalm is a result of David finally confronting his sin.

There is much in this psalm we can learn about confession. David held nothing back. Notice that David turned to God – not sacrifices – to cleanse him from his sin (vs. 1-4). He knew that only God’s compassion and loving-kindness could ever take away his sins. David does not stop with confessing his sin, he pleads for restoration (vs. 7-12). He also shows a desire to praise God for salvation and to teach others about God’s salvation (vs. 13-17).

It is important to note two differences between David’s prayer and how we, who live after Jesus’ death and resurrection, should pray/confess. First, David’s plea that God will not remove His Holy Spirit from David (v. 11) is not something that we must fear. As we have mentioned previously in these devotionals, there is a difference with how God related to His people before Jesus’ sacrifice, and how He relates to them after it. During David’s day God’s Holy Spirit did not indwell His people as He does today (Acts 2). If you have received salvation, God will not remove His Holy Spirit from you (2 Cor. 1:22, Eph. 1:13-14). Second, while we do need to continually confess our sins to God, we know that God has already forgiven us. All our sins have been paid for on the Cross by Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:9, James 5:16).

Thoughts to Ponder
Carefully read through this psalm. What portions stand out to you the most? Are there any sins that you know you need to confess? Pray the words of David as you confess your sins to God. Thank God that He will not take His Holy Spirit from us.