This is one of the most famous psalms. Its subtitle says, “Prayer for Cleansing and Pardon,” with the explanation: To the leader. A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. When Nathan pointed out his sins, the king David repented and wrote this psalm. This is a good example for all of us.
David could repent because God gave him the opportunity. God did not kill him right away. God sent God’s messenger and helped him to realize his own sins. We can live only by God’s Grace: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.”
To ask God’s forgiveness we should know our sins and acknowledge them: “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.”
When we sin, first we sin against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.
Our individual sins are the fruits of our sinfulness. We need to be transformed as well as forgiven. Otherwise we will keep sinning: “Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me. You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”
Our sinfulness is temporary situation which should be overcome by God’s Grace: “Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.”
When we truly repent, we are not just forgiven but transformed, rebuilt, and rejoice. That is the true worship that God would accept. That would be the true sacrifice that God wants to receive: “For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, then you will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.”
Let us pray to God not only forgive us by justifying Grace but also transform us through sanctifying Grace. We will restore our relationship with God and move on to the perfection.