“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.”
Psalms 51:2 NKJV
I love the example of true repentance David portrays in Psalms 51. David had been confronted by Nathan the prophet about his adultery with Bathsheba. I encourage you to go read the entire chapter now. (Click the reference above.)
Three Steps of True Repentance:
- Acknowledge the sin: When Nathan confronted David with his sin he didn’t try to make excuses for what he had done. He accepted responsibility and his prayer reflects sincere conviction. Initially he tried to hide his sin by committing yet another sin, the murder of Bathsheba’s husband. I imagine David was already feeling the weight of his guilt long before Nathan ever confronted him. God used Nathan to help David see we cannot hide from our past. We have to confront it before we can leave it behind.
- Accept the consequences: David’s sin cost him the life of his son. (See: 2 Samuel 12) God will always forgive our sin, but that doesn’t mean we will always escape the consequences of our actions. God’s punishments have purpose. They are not about vengeance.
- Pray for God’s mercy, cleansing and restoration: Most of David’s prayer is spent asking for God’s mercy, cleansing and restoration. As dire as the loss of his son was, David knew he couldn’t live without his fellowship with God. He needed God to do what he was not capable of doing himself. When we do our part (repent), God does His part (restore). God loves us. He longs to forgive us and cleanse us. When my son was a child he hated taking a bath, but once I got him in the tub, he didn’t want to get out. When I think of our reluctance to go to God with a spirit of true repentance I imagine the same scenario . Just dive into the cleansing stream. You won’t want to leave.
Prayer: Father, thank You for giving me an example of what repentance looks like in David’s prayer. This Psalm has been a favorite of mine for many years because I can relate to David’s desire for inner healing. My heart longs for the purity only You can provide, Lord. I don’t want anything to interfere with my fellowship with You. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Convict me when needed and remind me to dive into Your cleansing stream. Bathe me in the joy of Your salvation. Keep me humble enough Lord to allow my transparency to impact others who need to know You are a God of love and mercy.