“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51:10-12
When it comes to deciding which chapter of Scripture has had the greatest influence on my life, this chapter takes the cake. The entire chapter of Psalm 51 has played a crucial role in my walk, but these verses specifically are my all-time favorite.
To give some context for what is happening in these verses, you need to know that this psalm is written as a result of David committing his famous sin with Bathsheba. In case you do not recall, all of this can be found in 2 Samuel 11-12. The quick version though, is that King David commits adultery with Bathsheba, and has her husband killed in battle in order to take Bathsheba as his wife. It is a literal soap opera of events.
Afterwards, David ends up being called out on his actions by a court prophet named Nathan and has to come face to face with his sin. David’s response, which is seemingly appropriate, is that he is absolutely crushed by the reality of his sins. He knows he is surely deserving of death as his punishment. All of this is amplified considering David is the king of God’s people and he has done such bad deeds.
But there is a moment of beauty after Nathan calls out David for his transgressions, where he immediately tells David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die” (2 Samuel 12:13).
In a moment of reflection, David writes Psalm 51 as a response to one of his darkest seasons. One way to think about it, is that this psalm is David’s response to God’s forgiveness. The verses mentioned above show a turning point in David’s life.
In this world we are taught we have to earn forgiveness. I am one who struggles with the idea of performing for forgiveness. When I sin, my first thought is not to simply receive the forgiveness Jesus has for me, rather it is to figure out what I must do to earn back forgiveness. I think about having a second quiet time, or listening to a sermon, or even giving a larger tithe to my church (although my pastors would have appreciated this…). But David learned God’s forgiveness is complete and immediate, and this helped me to realize the same.
What David asks of God is to be restored back to the place he was before he even messed up. He wants to be restored to the joy of God’s salvation, back to the place where he felt most intimate with God before sin entered in. I love this prayer because it is a recognition of God’s forgiveness being immediate and attainable.
This psalm has helped me in two different ways in my life. First, when I give into temptation and sin, I read it as a reminder of God’s forgiveness. It helps to remind me of how perfect, complete, and un-earnable God’s forgiveness is. It reminds me to simply receive it and continue to live as God’s child.
The second purpose it serves for me is as a proactive response to temptation. When temptation comes near, I read this psalm and it realigns my focus on Jesus. It is impossible to still desire to sin when we see Jesus’ mercy played out in someone else’s life.
The greater message I have gotten from this psalm is that forgiveness does not delay, and neither should we. The time we spend trying to earn forgiveness from God is only wasted time. God’s forgiveness for our sins is immediate and complete, and so we need only to receive it.
When we receive forgiveness, we get to truly reflect on what it looks like to be God’s children. The more forgiveness we receive, the more we will forgive those around us. We get to bask in the joy of God’s salvation because of God’s forgiveness, and that certainly changes the way we see everything around us.
Have you ever felt as though forgiveness is far away from you? How does this play out in the way you approach your walk with Jesus?
What are the implications of God’s forgiveness being perfect and immediate?
Is there anything in your life that you need to lay at the feet of Jesus and be accepting of His forgiveness that He has already given to you?
Father, thank you for perfect and complete forgiveness for every single sin I have made and will make. I am unworthy of Your forgiveness; I recognize I cannot earn it. Therefore, I pray for a heart which receives it. I am grateful for You and the chance You have given me to be Your child. I love You Father and pray in Your holy name, Amen.
PC3 writer Davy Nance wrote today’s devotional.