Before you start reading this devotional, take a moment to stop what you’re doing, slow down and focus on Jesus.
Pray and ask him to open your eyes to see as you read the scriptures, and to open your ears to hear as you wait on the leading of the Spirit.
“Be gracious to me, God,
according to your faithful love;
according to your abundant compassion,
blot out my rebellion.
Completely wash away my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I am conscious of my rebellion,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you—you alone—I have sinned
and done this evil in your sight.
So you are right when you pass sentence;
you are blameless when you judge.
Indeed, I was guilty when I was born;
I was sinful when my mother conceived me.
Surely you desire integrity in the inner self,
and you teach me wisdom deep within.
Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Turn your face away from my sins
and blot out all my guilt.
God, create a clean heart for me
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore the joy of your salvation to me,
and sustain me by giving me a willing spirit.
Then I will teach the rebellious your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God—
God of my salvation—
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it;
you are not pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit.
You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.”
There is a real danger to isolation or quarantine or lockdown, or whatever your local government has called what we are all experiencing these days. It’s not the danger of a global economy struggling, and it’s not boredom.
The danger is our sin. Both the temptation towards secret sin that we only commit in isolation and the condemnation we naturally feel on the backside of committing that familiar sin again. That “classic me” sin. That sin that you need convincing that God can forgive again. Or that sin you need convincing won’t satisfy you before you commit it.
Maybe for you it’s the fit of rage that you have inflicted again on those you love most.
Or, it’s your apetite for lust that is satisfied by internet pornography.
Or, the deceitfulness of gluttony, and that regretful night of binge eating
Or, maybe jealousy, coveting or comparison is filling your heart as you scour social media for the ten thousandth time today.
Or, a lack of contentment is gripping your imagination as you think about what would actually “be enough” for you.
Or, it’s been days since you have given a thought to the God you claim to love and worship, as you have instead fixed your eyes upon a news app, instead of the glory of Jesus.
Maybe you actually haven’t “sinned in that same way” again at all, but you have recently slowed down to a pace that unfortunately allows you to replay the BIG sins from your past. Adultery, abortion, a big lie, a friend you betrayed or something worse. You struggle not because you commit this sin so frequently but because the magnitude of the sin almost seems unforgivable.
King David the author of this Psalm knew what it was like to grimace as he thought back on his past actions. He knew what it was like to wonder if God could forgive him as he approached him in prayer. And it probably makes whatever you are struggling look like child’s play.
David used his power as King to manipulate and coerce a married woman into committing sexual sin with him. And after she became pregnant with his child, he had her husband killed, to cover up his actions.
David, God’s King over God’s people, has committed unthinkable actions. There is no way around it. And on top of that he didn’t even come clean on his own, it took Nathan the Prophet to “out him” before David came clean.
How could David even think to ask for forgiveness again?
It is tough to imagine a more awkward or uncertain time of prayer in human history than when David finally confessed his sin to the Lord. I want to look at a few things we can learn from his prayer of confession
Psalm 51v4: “Against you—you alone—I have sinned and done this evil in your sight So you are right when you pass sentence; you are blameless when you judge.”
David fires his inner public relations teams and drops his defenses. He is owning that this is his fault. He is guilty. We can’t experience the amazing gift of God’s forgiveness until we can admit we need it. We need to stop confessing our sins with ‘ifs, ands or buts’ attached, where we blame our circumstances, other people, or even God for our sin.
You can’t say “quarantine made me do it!”
Psalm 51v9-10: “Turn your face away from my sins and blot out all my guilt. God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
After admitting what he has done, he actually asks God to forgive him and to change him. So many followers of Jesus assume God’s forgiveness and never ask for it and are shocked that they don’t feel forgiven. This is an obvious and vital yet often neglected step. Jesus taught his followers to daily ask for forgiveness for their sins, so if you haven’t asked for forgiveness lately it might be good to slow down and ask. Not to earn that forgiveness but to experience the reality and freedom of it.
Psalm 51v12: “Restore the joy of your salvation to me, and sustain me by giving me a willing spirit.”
Even though David pleads guilty in the courtroom of Heaven he doesn’t plan on wallowing in his guilt! He moves quickly to a request to experience the joy of his salvation. The forgiveness of our sins should be something we celebrate if we have truly experienced it! Even for the millionth time. What a thing that we have a relationship with God that is based on his covenant with us not our faithfulness to him! What safety and confidence we have to move forward in our journey to become like Jesus!
Respond to God in prayer by speaking to Him about what stood out to you from this passage this morning.
What is the Holy Spirit asking you to confess to Him this morning?
Confess your sins to the Father, take full responsibility. Then ask him a few more questions…
What can I do practically to experience freedom from this freshly forgiven sin? (i.e. Someone to let in on what’s going on for help or setting up a system of accountability or encouragement)
Can you restore to me the joy of my salvation? (Can you help me believe that you aren’t withholding your affection from me? Can you remind me of your love in Jesus?)