When we fail God: Psalm 51

Today’s reading: Psalms 51-57.

David was a man after God’s own heart, yet he failed God greatly. First he committed adultery with Bathsheba, then he tried to cover up his sin by arranging the death of Bathsheba’s husband. But when confronted with his sin, David confessed and repented, making it possible for God to restore him to a right relationship. Psalm 51 is David’s own account of his cry for forgiveness.

Cleanse 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. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:7-11

He prayed based on the character of God. David prayed effectively because he based his plea on the promises and character of God. “According to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.”

He took responsibility and ownership for his sin. He didn’t make excuses or blame anyone else.  “I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.”

He realized sin is a rebellion against God. Sin is disobedience to an absolute law or command, and that law came directly from the LORD.

He believed God had the power to remove his sin. “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” His sin was great, but his faith was greater.

David learned that sin is an issue of the heart. He sinned because he lost control of his desires. His return to God meant giving his heart back to the LORD. No external ritual or sacrificial offering would make a difference. His inner man needed to be remade: a pre-Christian witness to the necessity of regeneration by the Holy Spirit. David goes on to list all the things that God will do to keep him faithful. David can’t do them, but God will. Create, renew, restore, sustain. He understood we are unable to remain obedient by our own strength. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit will a man desire to obey the LORD.

David was broken the minute he sinned. Admitting and mourning his brokenness opened the door for God to mend him.

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3 thoughts on “When we fail God: Psalm 51

  1. I have heard it said one could sin like David, if one could repent like David. I find little edifying in that. I think the message is that sin is always harmful, that man is broken, but that God is perfect and forgiving, as long as we ask for forgiveness.

    As we will see later, the newly resurrected Messiah’s first action is to institute the sacrament of forgiveness and reconciliation. As he reveals the way, he gives us sacramental grace to help us follow Him.

  2. Pingback: Bible Daily Devotional – Psalm 51 – When we fail God | ChristianBlessings

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