A Psalm for the Season of Remorse [Part 2]
By — May 09, 2018
Are you ready for some good news?
God doesn’t just want you forgiven; He wants you glad!
Today’s Text: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.” (Psalm 51:7–8, ESV)
When you have sinned, the offer of the Gospel is not only forgiveness, but renewed gladness. God does not require penance or performance. He does not wait for you to prove yourself worthy of His love. Instead, He invites you back into the celebration.
After David committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband Uriah, the prophet Nathan confronted Israel’s king. David’s confessional prayer is replete with breathtaking boldness. He dares to ask God for a complete cleansing:
Though preachers and interpreters normally focus on the nature of David’s earnest confession, what’s remarkable about Psalm 51 is what David asks of God. He asks that his sin be “blotted out” (completely removed from the record book). He asks that he be “purged with hyssop” (the leafy hyssop was used by Hebrew fathers to paint blood over their doors at Passover and by priests to declare the diseased clean). But it’s what David asks next that beggars belief: “Let me hear joy and gladness.”
David wants more than forgiveness; he wants the joy of the Lord!
Once sin is confessed and forgiven, God has no interest in your prolonged, self-condemning remorse. He invites you into His grace. Charles Spurgeon put it well:
“A penitent need not ask to be an hired servant, or settle down in despairing content with perpetual mourning; he may ask for gladness and he shall have it; for if when prodigals return the father is glad, and the neighbours and friends rejoice and are merry with music and dancing, what need can there be that the restored one himself should be wretched?” (from Spurgeon, The Treasury of David)
David’s remarkable prayer of confession sees into the heart of God and makes an appeal to the very work that Christ would come to do. Christ came so that He could become your sin and that you would be merited with His righteousness. God came in Christ not just to forgive you so that you wouldn’t be damned forever. God came in Christ so that you would enjoy Him forever. And that’s the Gospel!