The pollen from my bouquet left a dark yellow stain on the neckline of my once pure white wedding dress. We went into crisis mode to renew the lace and prepare for presentation to my husband-to-be. With little time, there was no way to truly cleanse it; covering it up was the best we could do.
The Need for Repentance
None of us begins with a pure heart; we’re all born with a sin problem. We’re delivered to this world with a need for deliverance. When the prophet Nathan confronted David with his adultery and murder, the Psalmist’s sin stared him in the face. The King was “always aware” of his offense “against God,” so “evil to God,” recognizing he was born that way (v.5). David shared his individual longing to be made right in Psalm 51’s words, written for a congregational group to song together. The ceremonial system required worshipers to “wash” and “cleanse” themselves before coming into God’s presence. Knowing he was undeserving, he appealed to the character of God, marked by steadfast love and abundant mercy.
- David knew the scope of his offense and responded with a humble heart.
- David knew the scope of God’s mercy and responded with a plea for deliverance.
- David knew the scope of God’s love and responded with a worshipful heart.
Have mercy, wash me, cleanse me, purge me, wash me, hide your face, blot my sin, create a new heart, renew my spirit, don’t cast me away, don’t remove your Spirit, restore my joy, uphold me….
These are the words of a man who was sin-stained and knew it. These are the cries of a man who was unworthy to be in God’s presence and knew it. These are the pleas of a man who knew God’s mercy and love surpassed his dirtiness and evil. These are the hopes of a man who knew he could not make himself clean, but God could. Could these be your words?
Because He is the “God of my salvation” (v.14), He looks for more than a covering up of our outward stain; He wants inward purity demonstrated by outward obedience. Cleansing prepares us to enter His presence. Without it, our dirty condition overflows to the whole community of believers. A gathering of the cleansed and forgiven cannot help but respond in worship to the One who mercifully gives what isn’t deserved.
The Joy of Restoration
David knew the joy of having his personal evil washed to a miraculously whiter-than snow condition. He felt the joy of having his contrite heart and broken spirit healed and accepted. Deliverance from sin opens the door for freedom in worship, so he promised, “my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness … and my mouth will declare your praise” (vv. 14-15). Worship is the song of a forgiven heart.
There was no time to cleanse my wedding dress. A heavy spray of hairspray, covered by a dousing of baby powder, masked the stain on my yellowed bridal lace. It was covered, but not clean.
God isn’t fooled by our attempts to cover up our sin. Only the God of our Salvation has the power to cleanse the deep fibers of our hearts and restore our broken spirit. For those who know the joy of undeserved mercy, let’s join David’s congregation and sing the song of the forgiven hearts!
- Do you have a humble heart that’s honest about your stained condition?
- Have you appealed to God’s mercy with a plea for cleansing and to be upheld?
- Are you taking time to worship God privately and with a group of other forgiven people?