William S. Cline
The first Psalm’s theme is, “Blessed is the man who has not sinned.” The thirty-second Psalm says, “Blessed is the man, though he has sinned, he has been forgiven.” The fifty-first Psalm is concerned with “Removal of sin by pardon which is so difficult that only God can do it.”
The fifty-first Psalm is one of the great biblical passages on confession and cleansing from the defilement of sin. The first 14 verses of this Psalm of David reads:
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: According to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions; And my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, And done that which is evil in thy sight; That thou mayest be justified when thou speakest, And be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; And in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts; And in the hidden part thou wilt make me to know wisdom. Purify 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. Create in me a clean heart, O God; And renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; And take not thy holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; And uphold me with a willing spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; And sinners shall be converted unto thee. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation; And my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
David’s repentance included:
(1) A godly sorrow for his sin. Man will never repent or turn away from sin until he sees that sin as disgustingly as God sees it. Sin in the church or the individual is enough to make the Christ sick to His stomach so as to vomit. God abhors sin. Before there can be true repentance and consequently true restoration, the sinner must see that sin the same light that God sees it. Too often it is the nature of man to be sorry for sin and at the same time not be guided by a godly sorrow which works repentance.
(2) Confession of that sin. John wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We are of the disposition of David and John—sin must be confessed if sin is to be forgiven. It is within the doctrine of the New Testament teach that no sin can be forgiven without confession. All sin is against God and must be confessed to Him. When one sins against another, he must confess to that one and ask for forgiveness. When one’s sin is public, public confession must be made.
(3) A turning from sin. A godly sorrow for sin is naturally followed by a turning from sin. This is as natural as night following day or the rainbow following the rain. One will not persist in that which he views to be as disgusting as God views sin.
(4) Forgiveness of that sin. When David had godly sorrow toward his sin, confessed that sin and turned away from it, God forgave him. One of the blessed assurances that the Christian has is to know that when he confesses his sin, repents of his sin, and prays to God for forgiveness that his sin is forgiven. See Acts 8:22, James 5:16-20; 1 John 1:7-2:2.
(5) Restoration. Sin separates man from God (Isa. 59:1-2). Reconciliation for the alien sinner is in the body through the blood of Christ (Eph. 2:16). Restoration for the child of God is through obedience to God’s law of pardon for the child. The prodigal must return home and when he does restoration is effected.
(6) Rejoicing. When the nobleman of Acts 8 obeyed the gospel there was rejoicing on his part for he was then in a blessed relationship with God. When the widow found the lost coin; when the shepherd found the lost sheep; and when the lost boy came home there was rejoicing and merrymaking. Jesus said angels in heaven rejoice when that which is lost is regained. Truly there is no joy any more precious than the joy experienced when sin has been forgiven and restoration has taken place.
(7) A readiness to tell others about the grace of God. David said, “Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness” (Psa. 51:13-16). One can only wonder if this is not one of the reasons why so many in the church do so little for the cause of Christ. The one who is knowingly living in sin will not be anxious to serve the Lord, but the one who has sinned and has been forgiven will serve the King with enthusiasm and zeal.
All of us sin. Perhaps most of us sin more than we are willing to admit. We need the humility of spirit and the conviction of character to admit our sins and seek the forgiveness of them according to the teachings of the New Testament. David’s restoration should serve as an encouragement and a guide for us as we continually miss the mark which the Christ has set before us.