7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;Psalm 51:7-12
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
I am excited to bring you some good news today! That is, after all, what the gospel is – good news.
Over the past few weeks, we have been diving into what repentance is and how it fits into our walk with Christ. Part One showed us the example of King David. We saw how sin occurred in his life and how God uses David’s situation and the repentance that followed to teach us that repentance is a part of worship. Part Two helped us to realize that we need to acknowledge that our sin is against God and that we need a Savior.
The reality of our sin and our role in committing it is definitely bad news. My pastor, John Goldwater – who loves good news more than bad news, said in a sermon a couple weeks ago that we need the bad news to help us see and appreciate the good news. I agree. The reality of our sin and our realization that we need to cry out to our God and Savior Jesus Christ help us see the good news in the gospel. And, through the gospel, we can begin this week in looking at the good news regarding repentance.
As we journey through David’s song of repentance in Psalm 51, I hope that we can see what it is to be restored to the joy of salvation. I want to highlight the verses in today’s passage by looking at them in sections. As we walk through these verses, it is my prayer that you seek the Lord. Maybe you are missing the joy of His salvation in your life. It is my hope that you find yourself restored in your relationship to Him through the working of His Spirit in the reading of His Word!
vv. 7, 9
Verses 7 and 9 point to our need for cleansing. This carries over from last week’s passage, acknowledging our sin and need for salvation. The language that is used here – to be “purged” or “purified” with hyssop – brings up some Old Testament images. The priests used hyssop branches to sprinkle blood in various sacrifices. The biggest sacrifice was on the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, when the priest would make a sacrifice on behalf of all of Israel and sprinkle the blood on the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant. That day was very important in the life of Israel. It was a day that represented removing sin. But the priest would have to repeat it every year; in fact, Yom Kippur is coming up on September 28th.
The good news for us is that Jesus’ sacrifice takes away our sin forever! Hebrews 9:26b says, “But as it is, He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” When we cry out to be cleansed, purified, and have the stain of our sin removed, we can rejoice because Jesus handles it once for all time! We can trust that God, through the finished work of Jesus, removes our sin “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). We can praise the Lord that He has “compassion on us”, tramples “our iniquities underfoot”, and casts “all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). You see, when Jesus cleanses from our sins, we are clean!
If, at first glance, you find this verse to sound crazy, you are not alone. It defies logic and typical human thinking. Why would someone rejoice over being broken? Broken bones will certainly make someone cry out, but in praise? It is unheard of!
It is tempting to try and excuse this verse or glaze over it, but to do so would be to weaken what it is to repent. You see, repentance can only come out of a place of brokenness. Unless we reach that place in our lives where we truly understand our need to be saved, we will never submit to Christ. And, since our sin is against the holy, righteous God of the universe, the brokenness comes out of being chastised by Him:
- Psalm 44:19 — …yet You have broken us in the place of jackals and covered us with the shadow of death.
- Psalm 32:3-4 – For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me, my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
But God does not break us to hurt us. He breaks us so that we find healing and Life in Him alone. There is good news because of the bad. The same hand that chastises us is reached out to pull us out of the muck and the mire, into His Fatherly embrace. 1 Peter 5:6-7 tells us to “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”
Many people complain about old injuries and formerly broken bones aching when it rains or when bad weather approaches. For the believer, storms are going to happen in life – this much I can promise you. Jesus said it this way in Matthew 7:25: “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the Rock.” If you have your faith and trust in Christ, the wind and rain will not make the bones that He has broken ache; they will remind you of the grace and mercy He has already shone. They will remind you that His hand is outstretched to help you again and again and again.
It is easy to forget that our hearts so often lead us astray. So much advice is spent trying to tell us to follow our hearts that we forget that God’s Word tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). And, while Jeremiah’s warning about our hearts is true, God also uses Him to bring us good news about our hearts: “I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be there God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart” (Jeremiah 24:7). And how do we return to Him? By repenting of our sin and turning toward Him!
Through repentance and a relationship with Him, the reality is that He does create a new heart within us. Not only that, but He gives us His Spirit! I love these verses from Ezekiel because they give such vivid imagery for the change that occurs within our hearts:
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”Ezekiel 36:26
That’s good news! A heart of stone is dead, but praise God He, “being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us…made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-5)!
Our true fear is revealed in this portion of the song. We are afraid that God will abandon us, banish us, or stop loving us because we sin against Him. Everyone has felt this way as a child. I can remember a time in each of my kids’ lives where – when being punished – they asked if I still loved them. I can remember that it broke my heart when they asked. But do you know what I cannot remember? I cannot remember what they did to be punished. And the reason I cannot remember is because it has long since been forgiven.
We fear that God is going to abandon us because it is human nature to want to discard things that cause us pain. Part of repentance is acknowledging the pain that we cause our Father when we sin against Him. But the good news is that He will “never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Nothing will “be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).
We can trust that He will not remove His Spirit from us because He is Emmanuel – God with us (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23), and He has promised to be with us “always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 20:28). And it is because He will never leave us – because He will keep His Spirit with us – that we can rejoice! As painful as the process of repentance can be, it is – in and of itself – evidence of God’s Spirit at work in our lives (2 Timothy 2:25). So, if you feel the need to repent, rejoice! God is not done with you!
I do not know where you are in your journey, but, I assure you, God is not done with you! Maybe you are cast down in your spirit. Maybe you feel like you are far away from the Lord. But let me encourage you to “draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8a). Turn away from your sin and toward the Savior. Find joy in the comfort of His mercy and grace.