Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions. (Psalms 51:1)
David had failed God–not only committing adultery, but trying to cover his tracks by having his lover’s husband killed. What is secret sin on earth, is open scandal in heaven. David’s sin had been exposed. For months, this evil had eaten at him–a malignant thing–which had now been exposed with surgical precision by the prophet Nathan. What was David to do now? Surely he wondered, “Will God forgive me?” Maybe you are wondering the same thing. Satan is so crafty. Before we sin, he whispers, “Go ahead! God is merciful and He will forgive you.” Then, as soon as we yield to temptation, he shouts, “Give up! God is righteous and He will never forgive you!” David’s response needs to be ours.
We hear THE CRY THAT ASKS FORGIVENESS (Ps.51:1-2). He asks God for compassion. On blended knee and with a broken-heart He falls upon the mercy of God. He asks for covering. David had tried to cover up his sin to no avail. Only God can blot out our iniquity, and He does so as we confess it. David asks for cleansing. Sin makes us dirty where soap cannot cleanse. “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!”
We also hear THE CONFESSION THAT ANTICIPATES FORGIVENESS (Ps.51:3-6). “Passing the buck,” is a common human trait that can be traced to the first sin in Eden. When God confronted them, Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. The promise of Scripture in 1 John 1:9 is conditional, “IF WE CONFESS our sins, HE IS FAITHFUL AND JUST TO FORGIVE US our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (emphasis added)
Then, there follows THE CLEANSING THAT ACCOMPLISHES FORGIVENESS (Ps.51:7-9). Cleansing from sin restores holiness. The stain of sin that we cannot remove is cleansed by God. Cleansing returns happiness. The sorrow of sin that we cannot escape is replaced by the gladness of experiencing grace. Cleansing resumes hopefulness. The Devil is quite the prosecuting attorney. He wants a guilty verdict, but our Defense Attorney–Jesus Christ–is superior.
Next we find THE COMMUNION THAT ACCOMPANIES FORGIVENESS (Ps.51:10-12). The child of God, once born into His family, will never be disowned, but if he or she rebels they will be disciplined. The relationship is settled, but sin will cause the fellowship to be strained. The Spirit who seemed so near at one time, will be as though He has taken flight. The shouts of joy that once erupted from our lips, out of the wellspring of a soul in communion with God, are silenced by our disobedience. There is only one way to get back–like the Prodigal Son returning in repentance to his Father–and what a communion and celebration awaits!
It all ends with THE CONSECRATION THAT ACKNOWLEDGES FORGIVENESS (Ps.51:13-19). Grace experienced leads to gratitude expressed. How can we fail to serve a God who has been so merciful? There is the consecration of our witness. Having received forgiveness, we want others to have it. There is the consecration of our worship. Our mouth sings of His grace! There is the consecration of our work. David had a great responsibility, and he was now able to get back to it.
Will God forgive me? YES–over and over–YES!
Dennis Thurman has pastored churches in Western North Carolina for 36 years. Currently, he is Senior Pastor of Pole Creek Baptist Church where he has served for almost 20 years. Married to Marilyn for 40 years, they have 5 children and 11 grandchildren.
This article was originally posted on Dennis’ blog, Mountain Top Musings