“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)
The title to Psalm 51 informs us of why this psalm of confession and repentance was composed. It reads: “For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.”
We know the story from our Sunday school lessons; a story of how King David, the most loved king of Israel, yielded to the temptation of lust. It led to the sin of sexual immorality, and eventually the arranging of the death of Uriah the Hittite, Bathsheba’s husband.
When David sinned, he followed the natural response of so many of us and tried his best to cover it up. But what is true for David is true for us all we can never hide our sins from God.
God sent the prophet Nathan to David to reveal that He was aware. It was when David understood his guilt in God’s eyes that he responded with this confession and plea from Psalm 51.
Alongside the fact that God made us good is the equally basic fact that within our nature we are drawn toward sin. As the Apostle Paul reminds us “all have sinned and fall short,” therefore, we confess our sins to get to the truth about ourselves and to find out how God treats sinners.
Our experience of sin does not consist of just doing some bad things, but in being bad. It is a fundamental condition of our existence, not a temporary lapse into error. Praying our sin isn’t resolving not to sin anymore; it is discovering what God has resolved to do with us sinners.
The good news is that because of God’s abundant grace and mercy, we, like David, can also pray and ask God to create in us a clean heart and renew our spirit. Because of Jesus and his death for us, we can experience the forgiveness of God that lifts the weight of sin from our shoulders.
In my daily devotions this morning, I read this word of encouragement for us who, like David, feel the guilt of failure:
“Confession does not create a relationship with God; it simply nourishes it. If you are a believer, admission of sins does not alter your position before God, but it does enhance your peace with God.” (Max Lucado: Grace For the Moment)
It is peace with God that our soul yearns for, yet we know that our sin interrupts the intimacy with God that brings and sustains our peace. I encourage you to take a moment each day and search your heart with this question what sin have I been avoiding talking to God about?
Take it to Jesus, lay it at His feet, and experience his forgiveness and grace.