Psalm 51. 1-9. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness; according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight; that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. 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 thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
The sin with Bathsheba and against Uriah was not the only one which David felt; he confesses: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” A true knowledge of sin does not see the sinful acts only but is sensible of the deep depravity of the heart, and finds therein a terribly poisonous fountain out of which flow all sinful acts. In the heart are lies, and hate, and unchastity, and covetousness, as the plant is hid in the seed; and this poison has permeated us, and made the heart evil from our childhood. “For out of the heart,” says Jesus, “proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” — The Lord so arranged it that David saw Bathsheba, and that he was, by means of the visit of Uriah to his home, prevented from hiding his sin. If the Spirit can in no other way bring us to a knowledge of sin, the Lord permits the hidden lust of the heart to come out into the light, in order that we may be moved to humble ourselves, and to sue for mercy. Let none, however, dally with sin, and do that which is evil in order to learn contrition, and to prove the truth of God’s word! Quench the spark that it may not burst forth into a fierce flame! Ask God to keep you from the dreadful way of David; and be on your guard against the evil enemy, who lies in wait at the door. God will not fail so to shape your life that you shall taste the bitterness of sin, if you be upright and will obey his Spirit. And this sense of sin is absolutely necessary; he who does not feel his sin with sorrow, and recognize the justice of God’s judgments, can not know the sweet and blissful peace of his mercy. — Note the prayer and confession of David. They are not words proceeding out of a cold heart, but the piercing cry of a heart on fire and pleading for mercy. It is not a dull admission that he has the human frailties common to all; but it is a contrite soul’s deep and true confession that he is a malefactor from his birth. He is not done with the matter as soon as he has spoken his prayer and confession, but it is of inexpressible importance to him to receive mercy and be made clean. “Wash me thoroughly from my sin; purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Have you also, dear reader, this prayer in your heart? Have you likewise given to God the true sacrifices, a broken spirit and a broken and a contrite heart ? Humbly pray God to give you the true spirit of contrition, and say in the words of Asaph:
Feed me, O Lord, with the bread of tears, and give me tears to drink in great measure.
Lord God, we do not have the deep humility of David; but we feel our depravity and guilt with contrition and sorrow. Truly, I am wretched and wicked; cleanse me and heal me, O God, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
To thee may raise our hearts and eyes,
Repenting sore with bitter sighs,
And seek thy pardon for our sin,
And respite from our griefs within.
For thou hast promised graciously— TLH 369, “All Mankind Fell in Adam’s Fall”; [tune]
To hear all those who cry to thee,
Through him whose name alone is great,
Our Savior and our advocate.