We know that we are to come before God to confess our sin and to ask for His forgiveness. But have you ever wondered what true confession and repentance look like? Is it simply enough to say, “I’m sorry”?
Today’s text is extraordinary because we see into David’s thoughts after the prophet Nathan confronted him regarding his sin with Bathsheba and against Uriah. David begins his confession by recognizing his personal sin (vv. 1–6). He then appeals for God’s mercy (vv. 7–13) and concludes with action and thanksgiving (vv. 14–19).
Identifying and acknowledging our sin against God is the first step. David did not deny his sin, but he also affirmed that his primary sin was against the Lord (v. 4). As a result of the Fall, we are all sinners from birth. By nature, we neglect God, giving into our selfish desires (vv. 5–6). David recognized the severity of his sinful nature and expressed his desire to change.
He pleaded for forgiveness and began with a request to be cleansed with hyssop (v. 7). In the Old Testament, hyssop branches were used to apply the blood of a lamb over the doorposts prior to the Passover (Ex. 12:22), used in ceremonial cleanings (Lev. 14:4–7), as well as offerings (Num. 19:6). David’s request symbolized his need for spiritual cleansing. He pleaded for the Lord to create a pure heart and renew an unwavering spirit that is in line with God’s will and ways (v. 10).
Finally, David desired to put his new life into action for the good of others. His new yearning was to use his forgiven sin to teach others about God. The Lord’s forgiveness gave him a reason to praise God for the rest of his life, and it does the same for you and me too (v. 15).
>> Spend time in confession today. As you do, reread David’s prayer and personalize it to fit your situation. Ask the Lord for forgiveness and a renewed heart.
“Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:8–10).