April 21, 2014
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
We are looking at Psalm 51 – David’s great psalm of confession after he committed adultery with Bathsheba and tried to cover it up by having her husband Uriah murdered. It was perhaps a year later – a dry year spiritually for the king of Israel who was said to be “…a man after [God’s]…own heart…” (Acts 13:22) – that Nathan the prophet confronted David about his evil deeds. David confessed, “I have sinned against the Lord.” (II Samuel 12:13). The king must have often contemplated the deeds he had done. And he wrote at least three psalms related to his sinful actions – Psalms 51, 38 and 32 – in that probable order. We will consider all three in this study, but today we’ll concentrate on Psalm 51:7 through 10:
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter
than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which You
have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my
iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a steadfast spirit
If you are like me, Christian, I sometimes tend to beat myself up over past sinful actions in my own life. But this section of Psalm 51 tells us to what extent our sins are forgiven – and I rejoice in its truth!
When he pleads, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean,” David is thinking back to Israel’s beginning as a nation – redeemed from slavery in Egypt by God’s mighty power. Ten plagues pounded the Egyptians. And ten plagues defeated the god’s whom they worshiped. The tenth plague took the life of the firstborn of every man and beast in Egypt – except in the homes marked with the blood of the Passover lamb. That blood was applied to the entrance doorways of the house – the sides and lintel – by dipping hyssop sprigs into a bowl of the lamb’s blood and striking the three upper parts of the entrance. God said in Exodus 12:13:
Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And
when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be on
you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
So the blood spared the Israelite from God’s judgement!
Of course, this pointed toward “…the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (I Peter 1:19). But David did not see the fulness of the coming Messiah. So he looked back to the great act of redemption in the Old Testament – the Exodus. “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean….”
“…wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Isaiah wrote three centuries later using the same theme – perhaps inspired by David’s words: “…though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18). “Whiter than snow?” Every snowflake – or raindrop for that matter – has a speck of dust or dirt at its center around which water vapor coalesces. Therefore, if God cleanses us by the blood, we are “whiter than snow!”
“Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which You have broken may rejoice.” I’m glad God is in the bone-breaking business – not literally, but figuratively! We are broken when we see our sins as God sees them! They are horrible in His sight – an affront to His holiness and justice! We deserve His condemnation because we are sinners! But when we come to Him in faith, confessing our sins and trusting in His provision for taking away our sins, He so heals our brokenness that we will surely rejoice!
“Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.” God has both blotted out our sins and has hidden His face from our iniquities! So complete is His work that He tells us in Hebrews 10:17, “…their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Our sins are gone – washed away by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ!
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” This prayer fits naturally with the plea of the repentant sinner to cleanse away his sins. It is for living life from that point of confession forward. Once cleansed of sin, David did not want to fall into sin again – and neither should we! So in other words our request might be “God, help me not to sin against you from this moment on. Now that I am cleansed from my sins, keep me clean in my heart and make me strong in my spirit so I can stay away from sin!” That’s my prayer. Is it yours?