Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night…Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you…The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. – Psalms 51:1-3, 7-12, 17
True remorse can be a very painful emotion. To wish with all your heart that you could go back in time and undo something you did. Or to unsay something you said. To play back the situation in your head thinking of how different things would be right now if you had only gone a different way.
King David experienced this deep remorse after committing adultery, trying to cover it up and then ultimately committing murder. (2 Samuel 11 & 12) The “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) had blown it big time and the realization of what he’d done, beyond even the consequences of his actions, cut him deep within his soul. He knew he had ended up in a place he never intended on being. I can just imagine him thinking back to the moment he first saw Bathseeba from his rooftop and sent for her. “If only I had looked away. If only I had been out on the battlefield with my men. If only…”
It was in this anguish that David wrote Psalm 51. He called on God to be merciful. To “blot out the stains” of his sin. He acknowledged that he could ask this because of God’s “unfailing love” and “great compassion.” He begged God to give him back his joy! The joy of his salvation! He knew God would not reject a truly repentant heart. Our God is the same today for us as he was then for David. We, too, can come to him in our remorse and know that he will not reject us.
After this particular Psalm, David went on to write many more as he continued to lead God’s people. He had given his regret to God that day. He didn’t hang on to it and allow it to push him further from God. We must do the same. Satan would like nothing more than for us to believe that because we screwed up God doesn’t want us anymore. But that is a lie! The Bible says that it was “while we were still sinners” that Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) Once we acknowledge our need for a Savior and turn to Jesus, the price for our sin has been paid and there is no undoing that.
Cry out to God for forgiveness then praise him because it’s done!
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead. – Psalm 86:12-13
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me. – Psalm 13:5-6
Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. – Psalm 28:6-7