According to tradition, King David wrote this Psalm after he had been accused of adultery and murder. According to this tradition, he was stricken with remorse, repented of his sin, and begged God’s forgiveness.
God forgave King David of his sins, but he was still held accountable. His love child died. He remained in power in Israel, but his rule was marred by rebellion and warfare. The act of contrition and repentance was not easy. Neither was the aftermath.
So it is for many of us in our own lives. Sometimes we are caught in our sins, and like David we have to beg for God’s mercy and grace. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.” At some times we don’t think we need forgiveness. Or we may claim that we are not as bad as some other folks. It may be our thought that our sins won’t be noticed. Sometimes we aren’t ever aware that we have sinned in thought, word, or deed.
If so, we are wrong! Dead wrong! Eternally wrong!
The fact of the matter is that we all sin and deserve God’s righteous and everlasting wrath. We have earned for ourselves condemnation in hell.
King David had one thing right, though. He knew he was guilty, so he prayed: “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
In true repentance David knew he could turn to God for forgiveness and healing. He prayed, “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. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.”
God did exactly this! St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatian Christians: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:4-6 (ESV)
Jesus Christ, God’s Son, came into this world to redeem sinners; to buy us back from the curse of our sins, to free us from the power of Satan, and then to show us the only way to heaven. Jesus said to His disciple Thomas, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 (ESV)
David’s prayer was: “Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
God heard David’s plea. He will hear our plea for mercy, too! “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Jesus was and is God’s answer! David closed this portion of the Psalm by saying, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.”
May this be so for you and me!